Week 3 Preview: Northern Guilford vs Northwest Guilford – Wyatt Smith Reporting

On Friday night at R.L. Billings Stadium at Northwest High School, the Northern Guilford Nighthawks and the Northwest Vikings will meet for the tenth time since 2009. Kickoff is at 7:30pm.

The Nighthawks dominated the Vikings for the first seven years that the teams met. Recently, however, the Vikings are on a two-game winning streak in this heated rivalry and look to add their third straight victory against their arch-rivals come Friday.

Northwest has begun the season undefeated with a record of (3-0). The Vikings’ ground success has been in large part because of double threat Jacob Hardy who has had two 100-plus yard rushing games. Hardy (RB/NG) ran for substantial gains in the Vikings’ final scoring drive against Southeast last Friday, putting his team in position to score the tying touchdown after they fumbled inside the red zone late in the game on their previous possession.

Johnny Pagano, the Northwest quarterback, accounted for four touchdowns and 243 total yards, including the game-winning score, against the Southeast Falcons in overtime Friday. With this performance, Pagano was week three’s High School Player of the Week awarded by Danny Pigge (Ameriprise Financial) and GreensboroSports.com, along with Roberto Cruz at Greensboro Trophy.

Through three games, Pagano is (16-42) 424yds, 6TD, 4INT. Comparatively, the Nighthawks quarterbacks are (18-46) 215yds with 4 INT.

Another player to watch for the Vikings is WR/RB Cam Cloud, a standout receiver who has blazing speed once he finds open field. Cloud struggled to hang onto kickoff and punt receptions during the Southeast game, but you can be sure his skills will be tuned as the Vikings welcome Northern to Billings Stadium Friday. In the Vikings’ first three contests, Cloud has 12 receptions for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Cloud is also a potent weapon in the Northwest run-game.

The Nighthawks have not won since they beat Grimsley in week one of the regular season and are coming off two big losses to both Greensboro Page (48-0) and Statesville (34-7). The Nighthawks will have to find some offense that works as they are averaging just 68.3 yards per game on the ground and 71.6 yards through the air per game so far this season. The Nighthawks’ defense will have the formidable task of stopping the Vikings’ Pagano, Cloud, and Hardy to keep this game close.  Northern is averaging 8.4 PPG, and have allowed 32.3 PPG in their first three contests. The Nighthawks have also yet to score through the air. This is something that the Nighthawks will have to correct if they plan on defeating an unbeaten Vikings squad.

The Vikings have done much better on offense this season than they did last year, averaging 34 PPG in their first three. If they continue this pace, will have no trouble sailing past the Nighthawks Friday night. The Vikings defense has allowed 22.3 points per game in its first three contest of the year.

Northwest head coach Kevin Wallace said that although everyone will be pumped up for the rivalry, he knows his team must take one game at a time.

“We have good competition coming in next week with Northern,” Wallace said Friday. “Everyone is going to be hyped for the rivalry game, but to us it’s another team that we have to play, and the important thing is that we end (1-0) every week.”

Expect both teams to be ready for a battle as each takes the field against its arch-rival, with bragging rights in the Northwest part of the county on the line.

Although I believe that Northern head coach Erik Westberg will have his team ready to play, I don’t think that they are playing the same caliber of football that the Vikings are at this point in the season.

Northwest should have no issues beating Northern, and I predict the final score to be 42-13.