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Battle of East at R-S, TJCA gets big test in Football

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It's that time of the year again, East Rutherford will battle R-S Central in Rutherford for round two of the Rutherford County football championship.

East Rutherford (4-5, 2-4) won last year 16-6 on a Monday night, but R-S Central (4-5, 1-4) won the last meeting at The Palace, 20-17. East Rutherford comes off a 48-0 loss last week versus Crest, while Central fell 42-28 at East Burke.

This Friday (10-30-15) is big for both teams since both have the potential to win their last two games of the regular season and make the playoffs. However, somebody will lose and maybe five overall wins can sneak the other into the playoffs.

I expect Jarvis Hutchins and Kameron Garrison to do whatever they can to help East, while Tyrese Tate and Ramon Rodriguez to lead the way for the Hilltoppers.

The coaches and players know each other pretty well, so it will be a matter of execution. Who can run the ball better and make the least mistakes are the keys. Still, it should be a close ballgame. Seven of the last nine meetings between the two clubs have ended in a 12-point difference or less.

If that wasn't big enough, Thomas Jefferson (7-1, 3-1) has a monstrous game coming to Avondale. Undefeated Pine Lake Prep (9-0, 4-0) with a Southern Piedmont 1A Conference title implications on the line strolls to Rutherford County this Friday (10-30-15).

Both teams can score and defend. The Gryphons offense has been impressive, scoring an average of 41 per game, but Pine Lake has registered five shutouts this season. It's a little worrisome that the Gryphons have given up 50 points in the last two weeks, but both of those games were on the road. Expect a close game here as well.

The Pride aren't much of a passing team, but they got a lot of different runners in their offense as they have chewed up 300 yards a game this season. That could play into the Gryphons favor. Will Harwood and Taylor Hochman are close to 1,000 yards rushing each and have 27 combined touchdowns on the year.

Meanwhile Nick Mintz guides the Gryphons offense and Hogan Modirzadeh has 9.5 tackles for loss on defense.

Chase will host East Burke this coming Friday and likely will not make the playoffs this season. Depth and injuries have bitten Chase again this season. That doesn't mean Chase won't play with pride and try to defend home turf on senior night.

The Trojans must control possession, which would allow the defense to stay off the field. East Burke has been about unstoppable on offense scoring 32 points or more in five games and held to single digits just once all season.

The Panthers rose to the occasion again, but on Sunday Night Football this time. Carolina, now 6-0, will take on Indy after beating Philly 27-16. A couple of Cam Newton interceptions went for points, two of which were not his fault. Carolina still has some improvement to do offense, while the defense is still holding their own.

Well, it's one of my favorite weekends of the year as NASCAR invades the Martinsville Speedway. It's short track racing at its best and a championship still on the line for eight drivers. Joey Logano has won three races in a row now, but has never won at Martinsville. As a matter of fact, four of the eight drivers advancing into the third round of the playoffs have never won at Martinsville.

The swan song is also in tune for Jeff Gordon, who makes his final start in a Cup car Martinsville. Nobody in the field is happier to see Martinsville than Gordon, who also remains a playoff contender. There is no reason not to like Gordon this weekend, but I will take Rowdy Busch, who has come close a number of times to winning at the paper-clip.

As for Kevin Harvick, I hate to cast blame on the guy, just because I wasn't in the car when it happened, but it does look like he could have caused the race ending caution to keep his championship chances alive. I didn't say that he did. I am not saying that he did do it on purpose. Kevin complained that he had motor issues with a few laps to go, but in causing the wreck, Harvick and his teammate advanced to the next round, while Joe Gibbs Racing had two ousted on Sunday.

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