08/12/04 — Farmville, Rosewood top Carolina 1-A poll

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Farmville, Rosewood top Carolina 1-A poll

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on August 12, 2004 1:57 PM

After seeing three of its teams advance last season to the N.C. High School Athletic Association eastern finals -- Farmville Central (1-AA), Ayden-Grifton (1-AA) and North Duplin (1-A) -- the coaches in the Carolina Conference aren't predicting too much change at the top.

In an informal preseason coaches poll conducted by the News-Argus staff, perennial conference-title contenders Farmville Central and Rosewood were picked to finish one and two -- in that order.

The Jaguars, the defending undefeated conference and 1-AA (large school) eastern regional champs, received five of the six first-place votes and 35 points.

Farmville coach Dixon Sauls was surprised by the voting, stating his team has just one starter back on the offensive side of the ball and just two back on defense.

"Are you serious?" Sauls asked, "Knowing we lost everybody, we've got a lot of work to do. We've had a lot of success in the past and we hope it carries over."

Rosewood, who suffered its only Carolina loss to Farmville last season, got two first-place votes, two-second place votes and two third-place votes -- grabbing 30 points.

"They've always got real good numbers and they are doing a lot of two-platooning" said Ayden-Grifton coach B.T. Chappell said about the Eagles. "They've got a real good coaching staff."

While the coaches may not be predicting much change at the top, the middle seems to be tougher to call across the board.

North Johnston, who had just three wins overall last season, garnered one second-place vote and two-third place votes and finished tied with North Duplin for fourth in the poll with 21 points each.

The Panthers were 2-4 in the conference last year, while the Rebels went 4-2.

"Watch North Johnston this year. They look stronger and they've got things going," Rebels' coach John Avent said about his brother Ken Avent, Jr.'s squad. "I think our conference is going to be real good all around. We sent three to the eastern finals last year and the other teams in the conference could have gone deep, too."

Ayden-Grifton (24 points), a .500 conference team in 2003, picked up two second and third-place votes and was picked to finish third.

Spring Creek (10 points) and Princeton (seven points) rounded out the poll in the fifth and sixth spots. The Gators (1-5) and Bulldogs (0-6) finished fifth and sixth last year.

"Everybody in this conference is improving or maintaining," Rosewood coach Daniel Barrow said. "I think this will continue to be an excellent football conference."

Six of the conference teams open league play on Sept. 24 as Rosewood hosts Ayden-Grifton, North Johnston travels to Farmville and Spring Creek entertains Princeton. North Duplin opens its Carolina schedule one week later (Oct. 1) at Princeton.