04/07/06 — Martin named John Bert's successor at N. Duplin

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Martin named John Bert's successor at N. Duplin

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on April 7, 2006 2:00 PM

CALYPSO -- Hugh Martin has been roaming the sidelines at H.E. Grubbs Field in one way or another since he was a child.

In grade school, he used to tag along with his father, who was a member of the "chain gang" when his brother played for North Duplin. Martin himself competed for current athletics director and former football coach Ken Avent Sr. in the late 1970s and early 80s.

And, for the last six years, he has served as an assistant coach for both Ken Avent, Jr. and John Avent as the brothers directed the Rebels' program.

Now, Martin is going to get his shot to lead his alma mater.

Following John Avent's departure to serve as an assistant coach under Ken Jr. at James Kenan, Martin was recently named the head coach at North Duplin.

"I'm honored to have been considered and to have this opportunity. I love North Duplin and I love North Duplin football," Martin said. "I've been around it since I was a kid. I have lot of pride in this program."

With his background and experience, Avent Sr. believes he was a natural fit for the job.

"He's as good as it comes. We're looking forward to him taking over," Avent said. "He's been the backbone to Ken and John and was instrumental during their times, and I think he'll be a great head coach. This may be the toughest job in North Carolina, but he'll do a great one."

The 43-year old Martin takes over a program that finished 3-8 overall and 2-3 in the Class 1-A Carolina Conference in 2005. The Rebels suffered a 41-6 loss to South Stanly in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A (small-school) playoffs.

Lack of numbers and overall inexperience have hurt North Duplin's chances of greater success over the last two years, but Martin believes a solid corps of returning players will help the Rebels compete at a higher level in 2006.

"We've got a good nucleus coming back. These are the young kids who have had to play a lot as freshmen and sophomores," he said. "They've matured a lot and worked hard in the weight room. We're going to be counting on them a great deal.

"The program has had a lot of success in the past. It's a source of pride, and we're going to try to maintain and enhance that in the future."

Martin, who has 21 years of teaching experience, said the team will continue to run the same offensive and defensive schemes as it has under the Avent brothers.

Junior quarterback Doug Lloyd, a second-team All-Area selection, will return to direct the shotgun-option offense. A nucleus of defensive starters are back to guide the multiple-50 defense. North Duplin has 12 returning players who have starting experience, including several who play on both sides of the ball.

"I know the kids. I've been with some of them for four years and know some from being in the community," Martin said. "We're going to work hard and see what we can make happen."

The Rebels will likely open the 2006 season at home against Chatham Central. North Duplin will have conference home games against Ayden-Grifton and Spring Creek, and will go on the road to face North Johnston, Princeton and Rosewood.