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It’s FINALLY playoff time here in North Carolina. The brackets have been set and matchups announced, so let’s do a quick run through of what to expect from the first round matchup between the number 2 seed Robbinsville Black Knights and the number 7 seed Winston-Salem Prep Phoenix.
Winston-Salem Prep comes into the playoffs as the number 7 seed. They are 5-2 on the year, with losses to 3rd ranked East Surry and 8th ranked Mount Airy. By far the two best teams that they have played this year, and they didn’t put up much of a fight. Robbinsville is right up there with East Surry and Mount Airy, as they are ranked 5th in the State.
If W-S Prep wants to be the Cinderella story of this year’s playoffs, they are going to have to lean heavy on their air-raid offense.
Being in the SMC- a run first conference- Robbinsville has not seen the kind of passing attack the Phoenix are bringing. Junior W-S Prep QB Tim Davis can make plays both through the air and on the ground. He averages 300 yards passing per game and has eclipsed the 2,000 total yard passing mark already this year. He has also thrown for 21 touchdowns and ran for nearly 500 yards and 5 TDs. Another important note is that even though he has nearly 200 attempts on the year, he’s only thrown 4 interceptions.
#8 Tresean Stewart is Davis’ favorite target. Stewart leads the team in rushing and receiving yards. He’s averaging over 200 all purpose yards per game (90 rushing, 115 receiving) and is a definite threat in the backfield since you don’t know where they are going to line him up.
On the defensive side of things, W-S Prep is going to try to create problems for Black Knight QB Nathan Collins. The Phoenix defense is led by #3 Zaire Patterson. Patterson has nearly 50 tackles on the year, and he is always in the backfield. He’s accumulated 12.5 Tackles for loss already this year.
Okay, we’ve talked about how W-S Prep is bringing this new air-raid offense and how the Balck Knights may struggle against it, which they might. But we are still talking about the defending state champs here. You don’t complete 2 back to back dominant undefeated regular seasons and then not prepare for a first round opponent. Don’t expect Robbinsville to be shocked when W-S Prep starts throwing the ball around. I know the Black Knights coaching staff has studied and prepped all week for this one, and they’ve got some things in place to try to shut down the passing game.
In my opinion, all Robbinsville needs to do to win is play their game. Get your QB Nathan Collins and RB Lex Hooper going on the ground early and punish the Phoenix defense by simply holding on to the ball. Robbinsville needs to implement the same game plan they had against Murphy in the SMC Champiomship game last week. Hold on to the football and limit the opposing offenses big plays and you’ll win this game easily. I’m not saying it’s going to be a cakewalk here for Robbinsville. W-S Prep could very well come out and shock the Knights. But as long as Robbinsville plays their game and stays with the same mountain football mentality they’ve had for the past decade, then I expect the Knights to roll here.