The old adage is you throw out the records when a pair of rivals meet. Certainly that is the case whenever Rose and New Bern play, especially on the football field. Tonight's Game of the Week features the first of two - that's right, first of two - meetings between the Bears and the Rampants.
We hit the airwaves on 103.7 WTIB and 94.1 WNBU at 7 o'clock with a kickoff at 7:30 p.m. with this non-conference match up. Both teams play in the Mid-Eastern 4-A Conference and the last game of the regular season will be a league game. Tonight is for bragging rights and certainly is a key game as far as early season momentum goes.
Because of their success, both teams have had to play in locations like Scotland County, Durham County, Davie County and Wake County traditionally in the non-conference schedule. In the current economic times, that makes very little sense. Having a problem scheduling out of league this past off season prompted the two schools to agree to play at the Minges-Farley Athletic Complex for one of two meetings.
At the time they scheduled the match up, Rose had only three home games on the docket this season, New Bern had only seven games on their schedule. The price of success, Rose ripped off four straight Class 4-A state titles from 2003 through 2006. New Bern, a perennial contender for the Class 4-AA title throughout the last decade, finally slayed Goliath (Charlotte Independence) in 2007 to win the state title. It's important to note, both schools would scrimmage in the preseason if they didn't schedule this non-conference game.
It's a short week for New Bern, who enters play at 2-1 and is coming off a 70-27 shellacking of rival West Craven on Monday. Coach Bobby Curlings has a veteran, Josh Taylor, leading his triple-option attack. Taylor, a junior, ran for three touchdowns on Monday and has nearly 800 yards of total offense on the young season and fullback Joc Waters leads the Bears with five rushing scores. The Bears run behind a big, experienced offensive line.
Rose won at home last Friday night over upstart South Central, 41-20. Coach Todd Lipe's Rampants went to the ground game, attempting 37 rushes for 177 yards and scoring three rushing touchdowns. Junior T.J. Tate is quickly establishing himself as one of Eastern North Carolina's top running backs. Tate ran for 139 yards last week and scored two touchdowns on the ground. He also caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Cole Vonlehmden, who played his best game of the season last week in the win over the Falcons.
Expect sparks as both teams are big play capable and both have had some problems defensively this season.
I wouldn't usually mention the kickers, but both teams feature guys with big legs. Rose's Jerrett Ozimek has hit all but one PAT kick this season and has routinely been putting the ball in the end zone on kickoffs the last two weeks. New Bern kicker Kyle O'Conner has had some trouble with his point after kicks, but is improving and hit six PAT kicks against the Eagles on Monday. If the game comes down to a field goal, both coaches are confident in their respective kicker's abilities.
Ken Whitehurst and I are looking forward to calling the action tonight in Greenville for the audience on 103.7 WTIB and on 94.1 WNBU beginning at 7 p.m. for another great edition of this heated rivalry between the Rampants and the Bears.