11/24/17 — FOOTBALL | North Duplin, Pamlico quite similar --on paper

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FOOTBALL | North Duplin, Pamlico quite similar --on paper

By Justin Hayes
Published in Sports on November 24, 2017 5:54 AM

CALYPSO --  The statistics, polished and presented in varied formats on the Maxpreps website, are colorful and splashy.

There are charts, circular in shape and endless in array, that identify team leaders.  

There are also graphs, radar-inspired scoring breakdowns and data lines that sift through rushing yards per game, passing yards per game and further, to what degree the aforementioned team leaders are responsible for the data.

But tonight, when North Duplin meets Pamlico County in the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A football playoffs, all the numbers and diagrams and algorithms in the world won't mean a thing.

This is about where you come from.

And for these Rebels, who began gutting out this campaign in the searing heat of August, that really means something.

It means the town --  no bigger than a rotary disc saw -- will slip into darkness around 6 p.m., then slowly begin its trek toward the sprawling banks of light that stretch above H.E. Grubbs field.

That's loyalty, and it lives there.

It also means media-types will be there, armed with smart phones and laptops other gadgets of modern convenience, scrambling for access to the same wi-fi network --  eager to snap, organize and post the perfect update.

That's popularity, and there is no ticket hotter than North Duplin right now.

Finally, it means that two or three generations of Rebel pride -- perhaps more, depending on the player --  will be there, draped in school colors and well-traveled blankets, ready to live and die on each possession, making the game their own.

That's unity, and exists as something which can't fit in the color-coded bars of a flow chart.

You have to feel it, or want to, and North Duplin has given every indication of such spirit this fall.

Whether it was their 35-6 road-thumping of Southside in Week 5 -- the state's No. 4 outfit at the time -- or its oxygen-deprived, 40-39 panic attack triumph at Princeton, the gang in green rallied for the cause every week, eager to do what was necessary to be a part of something truly special.

And now, this.

The numbers, if you trust them, spell out a matchup that will be decided on the ground, in between hashmarks manicured by North Duplin's professorial head coach, Hugh Martin.

Beyond that, they tell us that William Archer, Kenny Sheppard and Colby Bass will run the rock until the cows come home tonight at Ten Mile Farm.

On the opposite sideline, they sing the praises of Caleb Barron, Lamont Murray and freshman Sayvone Tutt -- who will likely account for just about everything the Bayboro bunch has to offer.

But what they don't describe, and never will, is the palpable rhyme-and-meter of a town and its team, locked together on a season-long title quest.

It's rich in color, sure, but difficult to quantify.