The Leopards of Lakewood have earned themselves a spot in the third round of the playoffs after their clutch overtime win last Friday over East Carteret, 41-40. They face possibly the toughest team they‘ve played all year this coming Friday — John A. Holmes.
Both teams have players that are leaders of their respective conferences, and here’s how the two teams stack up against one another in this matchup.
It’s no secret this late in the season about how good Lakewood’s offense is and how even scarier their defense has been all year. With the best current offense in the Carolina 1A League they are led by an outstanding O-line. Also, having the best quarterback, running back and receiver in the conference helps as well.
Cameron Sessoms continues to emerge as the QB for the Leopards, continuing to show why is was the number one passer in the conference sitting at 840 yards. His WR core also holds the top three sports in the conference for yards. Andre Rich, Bryce Tanner and Jahdon Smith are the one, two and three leading wide receivers for yards with 245, 213 and 158 yards, respectively.
On top of a dominating O-line, the best QB and receiving core in the Carolina 1A League that’s not even the scariest part of their offense. The worse member of this group is the premiere best running back in all the conference Smith.
After ending the regular season with over 1,5oo yards he hasn’t slowed down at all in the playoffs. Coming off possibly his best game all year against East Carteret where he rushed for 285 yards, he has now established himself as the best running back in their conference with a total of 2,021 yards and 32 touchdowns.
As great as the offense is their defense, still the driving force behind this amazing season so far. Led by aggressive play and some of the best players in the Carolina 1A they’ve pitched eight shutouts for a reason.
Led by top three players on the D-line, linebacker and defensive back positions the defensive dominance is of no surprise. The number two and three tacklers both belong to the Leopards and they are none other than Luke Brewer and Tristan Holmes. With 107 and 105 tackles, respectively, they are a nonstop presence that has caused problems for teams. Not only is Holmes the third best tackler, he’s also tied for most sacks with six.
All this is capped off with one of the best takeaway defensive backs in the conference as well in Shemar Tucker, who’s tied for most interceptions with four.
John A. Holmes
As great as Lakewood has played all year they face a team that’s no stranger to dominating their conference. The John. A Holmes Aces have done just that maybe even more than the Leopards have. Boasting an 11-1 record their only loss coming to one of the powerhouse 2A teams this year the Northeastern Eagles.
Not only did the Aces win the Albemarle 1A conference title they did it with barely any competition. Winning by the mercy rule margin in seven out of its 12 games this season John A. Holmes has been the team to look out for in the Albemarle 1A League. Their two most unbelievable wins came out with scores of 76-7 against Camden County and 70-7 against Perquimans in the playoffs.
The Aces team is similar on the offense to the Leopards having top three conference players at the quarterback position and at the wide receiver position. They are led by their monster of a running back as well, one that has amassed over 2,000 yards like Smith.
At the quarterback position is Mitjonta Stanley who is third in their conference at 364 yards but he also is a dual threat being the fifth best rusher in the conference at 727 yards. His go to wide receiver Caleb Daniels is also third best in the conference garnering 143 yards.
The scariest part of their offense is without a doubt lead rusher Keimon Bailey, like Smith he is the premiere running back in his conference with an astonishing 2,178 yards and 36 TDs.
You don’t reach the mercy rule seven times just with offense, like Lakewood they have the best defense with top players in every category.
The first being the best tacklers with four out of the top five all belong to John A. Holmes. These defensive beast include the number one player for tackles Xavius Capehart with 168, second best Tim White with 139, fourth best in Kel Boston with 100 and rounding out the top five in fifth is Jabari Stanley at 88 tackles.
Stanley, White and Boston were also in the top five for sacks for the Aces. Stanley led this go around at number one with five, White finished third with four and the fifth spot in top five belonged to Boston with three.
In the secondary tied for most takeaways with four interceptions was Nakevin Hill.
These two teams will go head to head and battle for a chance to keep their playoffs spots this Friday as the Leopards travel to Edenton to take John A. Holmes.
Reach Michael Hardison at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.