Spring Creek at Rosewood
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 20, 2005 1:59 PM
Numbers can be misleading.
Just ask Spring Creek football coach Roy Whitfield.
While taking copious notes and breaking down videotape of Rosewood, this week's opponent, Whitfield noticed one constant from each game -- the Eagles nearly matched the opposition in total offensive yards. If they had minimized their turnovers, they could easily be above .500 instead of 1-6 heading into Friday night's Class 1-A Carolina Conference affair.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Branch Pope Field.
"With the teams they've played and when you look at the score, you would think they were completely blown out," said Whitfield, whose Gators are 4-4 overall. "But look at the stats. They get very few penalties. I think turnovers have plagued them a little bit."
Rosewood, which is 0-2 in Carolina play, surrenders a fairly large chunk of real estate defensively. Opponents average 36.6 points and 376.9 yards of total offense each outing.
The Eagles, however, manage 14.7 points and 291.1 yards of total offense. That's where turnovers come into play. The miscues either halt a sustained drive or lead to short-field touchdowns by the other team.
Whitfield said Rosewood's offense starts with quarterback Brantley Ellis. When Ellis directs the Eagles' misdirection wishbone offense, he consistently hands off to either Josh Myers or Devon Bennett. The duo has combined for nearly 1,000 yards rushing and six touchdowns.
A 5-foot-11, 160-pound senior, Ellis isn't afraid to keep the ball on the option. He's rushed for 299 yards and three touchdowns, and thrown for another 654 yards.
"Ellis is their key ingredient and does a great job of misdirection ... play action and option," said Whitfield. "He does a great job of hiding the football. We have to stay at home and play the football, not go with those fakes. We've got to be able to slow them down offensively because they do a bunch of good things.
"Defensively, we've proved that we can be a good defensive team and have done that the last two weeks the second half of each game against Princeton and Ayden-Grifton. We don't make a lot of adjustments at halftime. It's just a mental thing with these kids and if they can play that way from start to finish, we've got a chance (to win)."
Rosewood, likewise, must play sound defense against the talent-ladened Gators.
Veteran Eagle coach Daniel Barrow extended praise to Whitfield, who undoubtedly has his most-skilled team since the program entered varsity status five years ago.
"They're a wing-T principle team and jump in the I formation a little bit," said Barrow. "We've had an opportunity to see quite a bit of that this year. Spring Creek has good personnel, good size and they get to the football well.
"It's going to be a great challenge ... a great football game and we're looking forward to it."
Ricky Mason has emerged the Gators' top rusher with 667 yards and five touchdowns in eight games. Quarterback Josh Wright has matured into a solid quarterback and thrown just one interception in 60 attempts. He's thrown for 519 yards and rushed for 220 with 11 total touchdowns.
Spring Creek averages 26.6 points and 264 yards of total offense each contest.
Barrow hopes his defense can force the Gators to play a "long" field and eventually punt or commit a turnover. Whitfield's club lost two fumbles last week, including a crucial second-quarter miscue that could have given his team a lead at halftime.
But state-ranked Ayden-Grifton scored on the very next play and led by 18 points at the break.
"That hurt us big time," said Whitfield.
The county rivals are meeting for the fifth time. Rosewood leads the all-time series 4-0 and has scored 28 or more points in all four games. The Gators tallied a series-high 28 points in their 2002 contest played at Seven Springs.
Whitfield would like nothing more than to spoil the Eagles' Homecoming festivities.
"It's the only county conference game that we both will play this year and that's big in itself," said Whitfield. "I'm sure that's one incentive right there."
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