Inside look at NC vs. Harrison


Michael Smith

The defense that Harrison plans to bring towards NC’s offense, showing a 3×1 defensive set.

Michael Smith, Sports editor

NC will play its first away game of the season Friday, September 2 against the rival Harrison Hoyas. Both teams enter the game 2-0 after upsetting their opponents in tight, brutal contests.

The Warriors defeated the Etowah Eagles in a tight contest at Emory-Sewell stadium, and the Hoyas undermined the eighth ranked AAAAA Rome Wolves. Considering NC and Harrison’s former region rivalry, combined with Harrison taking students from NC at its foundation and a series the Warriors have dominated over the past few seasons, this rendition will look chippy and nasty before the game’s start.

After the Warriors narrowly pulled out a sloppy victory over the Hoyas last season, Harrison finished the season 5-5, but never had a chance to reach the postseason. The two teams scrimmaged over the summer, and both teams started fueling the fire for the week three match up then. The game brings plenty of pent up anxiety and pride, and both teams will look to back up months of talking. The Hoyas will look to show off in front of an always energized home crowd and the Warriors will look to come in and play spoiler for the second year in a row.

On offense, the Hoyas will look to run the ball and throw deep off of play action. Junior quarterback Justin Fields (1) brings a valuable skill set to the Harrison Wing-T offense. Standing at 6’3”, and 210 pounds, the three star quarterback has 16 scholarship offers from division 1 schools across the country. Fields brings dual threat capabilities similar to former Hoya quarterback and current South Carolina player Lorenzo Nunez. Fields possesses surprising speed and quickness and great strength to carry the ball inside the tackles. Fields also displays adept ability to come off play action and flip the football deep for large gains. The offensive philosophy predicates misdirection and post-snap defensive confusion by faking multiple handoffs and motioning running backs and receivers around to force defenses to adjust to changed offensive balances.

On defense, the Hoyas love to blitz linebackers and jump flat routes with their corners, especially with three receivers to one side. The Hoyas also emphasize changing the game plan significantly based on the opponent’s offense. Harrison tends to jump offsides as a result of the defenses desire to “roll” to coverages at the snap of the ball. The “rolling” coverage shows one defensive alignment as the offense sets, and then moves to its desired position right before the snap in an effort to confuse opposing quarterbacks.

Schematically, the Hoyas largely rely on zone defense, rotating a safety deep over three receivers and pushing a corner down into the flats to eliminate short, easy passes and the normally automatic screen passes many spread offenses rely on today. When offenses put two receivers to each side, the corners will backpedal until the inside receiver breaks towards the sideline, and the safeties will stay back to defend any deep balls, especially close to the middle of the field. The Hoyas usually bring at least one of their four linebackers on any given play.

Expect the Warrior offense to look a little different againts the unique Hoya defense. The offense may also take a few drives to kick start as it adjusts to the Hoya’s unique game plan. The NC defense will prioritize keeping Fields inside the pocket and nervous throughout the game. Plan to see an early onside kick or 2 point conversion attempt by the Hoyas as they try to gain momentum early in the game.


The Chant’s prediction: NC: 28, Harrison: 18