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NHS linemen create path to championship game

081318NortheasternOffensiveLine

The 2018 Northeastern offensive line has paced one of the state's prolific offensive units. Front row: Rayshawn Stallings, Marqua Veale, Christopher Manuli, Wade Staten and Jordan Griffin. Back row: Amir Payton-Kimble, Antonio Seymore, Shawn Brothers and Kaveon Freshwater.

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By Malcolm Shields
Sports Editor

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Northeastern offense has produced plenty of points and yards since the opening week of the 2018 season.

Although players at the skill positions get much of the attention, the NHS offense has been anchored by its offensive line.

Right tackle Rayshawn Stallings, center Christopher Manuli, right guard Marqua Veale, left guard Wade Staten, left tackle Jordan Griffin with reserves Amir Payton-Kimble, Shawn Brothers, Antonio Seymore and Jyion Gramby have manned the NHS offensive line to a regional championship and to Saturday's North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A state championship game against Reidsville.

Payton-Kimble is the Eagles’ main back up on the line for all the positions minus center, while Brothers can play multiple positions on the line and enters the game for certain formations.

“They're tough and they play every play,” Northeastern coach Antonio Moore said about the group. “They communicate. That's the biggest thing. They communicate with each other on every play.”

Stallings and Manuli are seniors, while Veale, Staten and Griffin are juniors.

Veale acknowledged that there was some doubt about the line because of the lack of size across the line.

Griffin is the tallest listed lineman at 6-foot-1, while the majority of the line is around 250 pounds.

“We work hard every day,” Veale said.

Stallings said that the offensive line has a lot of chemistry.

He added that this offseason, he told the linemen that they need to be together in order to be a good offensive line.

“It’s been helping us off the field and on the field,” Stallings said about the unit’s chemistry.

Staten said that this year’s line is quicker than previous lines.

Seeing the offense have success is fulfilling to Staten.

“As a o-lineman, it makes me feel like I did my job,” Staten said.

The Eagles have tallied over 300 rushing yards and 100 passing yards per game this season.

The NHS offense has more than 6,000 total yards with over 70 total touchdowns during the 2018 season.

The Northeastern offensive line was able have success in the regional final against a large Southwest Onslow defensive line that featured 6-foot-5, 295-pound University of Oklahoma commit Derek Green.

The line has appreciation for offensive line coach David Lawson.

“He teaches you fundamentals,” Staten said. “He makes it simple and easy to learn.”

One of the starters that had a learning curve this season was Griffin who was a center that moved to tackle.

Griffin said that he has improved since the beginning of the season.

A lot of the responsibility on the line is handled by Manuli at center.

Last season, Manuli was a guard.

Manuli added that he has improved at center this season and that the line doesn’t fear any opponent.

“We’ll battle no matter who it is,” he said.

The group acknowledged that they are looking forward to the state championship game at Carter-Finley Stadium.

NOTES: Northeastern senior defensive end, linebacker and running back Traveon Freshwater confirmed to The Daily Advance Monday that he is still committed to sign with the East Carolina University football program.

“I’m 100 percent committed to ECU,” Freshwater said.

ECU fired head football coach Scottie Montgomery Nov. 29 and let go members of Montgomery’s staff days after his ouster.

Freshwater also confirmed that he will make an official visit to ECU next month… Northeastern head coach Antonio Moore is scheduled to represent the Eagles at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association football championship media session today at Carter-Finley Stadium.

Head coaches from all teams that advanced to state championship games are expected to be at the session.

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