After dominating West Forsyth last Friday night 49-14, the Page Pirates, ranked first in the state by MaxPreps, host Charlotte’s Vance High School in the 4-AA West Regional Final game on Friday night at Marion Kirby Stadium in Greensboro.
The Vance Cougars come into town boasting a 13-1 record, same as the Pirates. The Cougars are ranked fourth in the state in the 4-AA rankings by MaxPreps and have the firepower to outscore a Page team who has had no problem putting up points this season. The Cougars’ quarterback, Kingsley Ifedi, an East Carolina commit, has the ability to sling the ball all over the field, receivers who can haul in passes, and an offensive line that can give him the time he needs to find those receivers.
When Ifedi doesn’t throw the ball, Vance FB and Oklahoma commit, 6’3” 225-pound Jeremiah Hall can do damage on the ground and will be a factor in the game for sure.
The Cougars have scored 41 points in 12 of 14 games this year, but Page has a high-power, dominating offense that has scored 41 or more in nine of 14 games on the year.
The Pirate defense has come up big in clutch games this year, most recently stopping an undefeated Dudley team who was on the goal-line as time expired to hold on to a 23-22 win. They are tried and true, and will be prepared for a battle on Friday.
The only thing that could hurt the Page defense is the possibility of the absence of safety Alex Angus who left the second-round game against West Mecklenburg with a hyperextended elbow and was in street clothes for last week’s game against West Forsyth. Angus’ absence caused Javon Leake and Ronald Polite to share duties at the safety position. Polite, however, intercepted a pass that was called back due to a Pirate penalty. Angus would make a big difference in the Pirate secondary.
Look for Alan Tisdale and Tyler DeBerry to dominate on defense for the Pirates, as usual.
Page quarterback Will Jones will have to be on his “A” game, as he has been in the last two playoff games, and his receivers will have to do the same. I would imagine, after seeing the highlight-reel catch by Ronald Polite from last week, that Vance will have him covered well. Naseem and Assad Alston, along with Anthony Rodriguez, will have to make big plays, as they did last Friday night if Polite struggles to beat the coverage.
With Jones’ 12 touchdowns in the two games, eight passing and four rushing, have carried Page and taken a load off of Maryland-commit RB Javon Leake. The Pirates will need a break-out game from Leake who has yet to look 100 percent since his high-ankle sprain over a month ago. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Leake-Jones combo take over this game and let the defensive efforts of DeBerry, Tisdale, and, hopefully, for Page’s sake, Alex Angus, do their thing in another big game.
Thomas Murray’s punting will be a factor in Friday night’s game as well. Murray has risen to the occasion in big games so far this season, pinning opposing teams deep in their own territory. If Page is going to win the field position battle, Murray will be a big part of that.
If Page plays the way that they have been playing the last two weeks, and has a big night from Javon Leake, the Pirates will advance to their second straight State Championship game, and Vance will head home runners-up in the West Regional final game.