09/29/05 — The Eagles have landed

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The Eagles have landed

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on September 29, 2005 2:13 PM

The last time Rosewood's football team had a home date -- over one month ago -- the Eagles were handed a disappointing, 60-6 loss to state-ranked and defending Class 1-A (small school) eastern regional champion Chocowinity Southside.

Three-games later, the Eagles have yet to get their first win of 2005, but coach Daniel Barrow has seen signs of improvement in recent weeks -- especially after a hard-fought, six-point loss at Midway last Friday.

"Last Friday night I thought especially our defensive front and secondary played their best game of the season," Barrow said. "I thought Brantley (Ellis) had a fine game (at quarterback) and the backs ran hard. There were times when the offensive line did a nice job.

"We're young as far as varsity experience, and we've been able to see a lot of things now ... fast teams, big teams, power teams and teams that throw it a little. I think they've grown and matured."

Friday at Branch Pope Field, Rosewood (0-4) matches up with Jones Senior -- a program also winless in 2005. The Trojans were outscored 110-8 the first three weeks of the season, but have also made strides over the last two weeks. Last week, Jones lost 12-6 to North Edgecombe, after falling just short in a 25-24 loss to Swansboro.

Against Goldsboro on Sept. 2, the injury-riddled Trojans (0-5) had only 16 players on their roster. According to Barrow, Jones Senior will dress approximately 24 players this week, while Rosewood carries close to 40. Despite the disparage in numbers, Barrow and his team aren't taking the visitors from Trenton lightly.

"They will be the second quickest team we've faced this year. They do a good job of running to the football defensively, and they are very sound offensively. They are pretty solid, and they've lost some close games. We saw the North Edgecombe tape, and that was a 12-6 game."

Meanwhile, Rosewood running back Josh Myers (75.3 YPG, 3 TD), quarterback Brantley Ellis (117 YPG, 3 TD) and wide receiver Stephen McIntyre (63 YPG) have keyed an offense averaging an area-best 309 yards per game through four contests. Rosewood is scoring nearly 18 points per game, but is giving up over 40 points and yielding 436.8 yards per game.

With one game left before opening Class 1-A Carolina Conference play at state-ranked Ayden-Grifton, Barrow believes the non-conference schedule will have the Eagles prepared.

"It should be a very tough league, and that's one of the reasons we play the schedule we play to get ready for it," he said. "Our young men won't face anything they haven't already faced. Nothings going to shock them. By the time we start conference, we'll be seasoned and been in the fire.

"They've just go to get through it, keep getting better and try to make some noise in the league."

At the most this season, Rosewood has had three senior starters on offense and five on defense. Despite their youth, the Eagles put themselves in position to win last Friday at Midway, but came up empty on two, key goal-line opportunities on offense in a 29-23 loss.

To Barrow, the defeat was another part of the learning process for his youthful squad.

"We saw a lot of good things, because we had a chance to win in the fourth. That's what you always try to do is be in position to win," he said. "That's the first time we've been in the position this year and it hurt to not come away with the victory. After the hurt went away, they saw that they played pretty good. They've got resiliency and bounce back well."

Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.

Notes: In their meetings in 2003 and 2004, Rosewood has outscored the Trojans 99-28 combined, including a 48-0 shutout in '03 ... Jones Senior is 1-16 dating back to last season with its only win coming on Oct. 1, 2004 at Holly Ridge Dixon ... The Eagles are 4-10 the last three years in non-conference games, but finished a combined 10-2 in Carolina play in '03 and '04.