08/17/06 — Area teams ready to kick off 2006 season

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Area teams ready to kick off 2006 season

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 17, 2006 2:26 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- Claiming season-opening wins hasn't been an easy task for Spring Creek's football team. The Gators have lost three consecutive openers and are 1-4 overall since moving to varsity status in 2001.

They'll try again Friday evening.

Spring Creek, coming off its best season (6-6) in school history, entertains Class 2-A East Central member South Lenoir at The Swamp. It's a rematch of last year's opener won by the Blue Devils in Deep Run.

"I think the success they had last year and the carryover to this year has been pretty good from what I've been told," said sixth-year Gators head coach Roy Whitfield. "They've got some very good returning players."

South Lenoir, which collected seven wins a year ago, returns 12 starters and 24 lettermen overall. The Blue Devils lost four-year starting quarterback Brandon Rouse to graduation and according to preseason scrimmages appear to be more seasoned on defense.

All three linebackers return -- Justin Byrd, an all-East Central pick in 2005; Jamere Moore and Scott Brown. Quan Outlaw and Eddie Colie, both juniors, are the defensive ends in South Lenoir's 4-4 package. Matt Jones, a returning starter, is also a key defensive back.

"My assistant coaches said their defense looked good," said Whitfield. "They get after the ball and pursue to the football very well, so that's going to be a challenge for us. Hopefully we can move the ball, get into scoring position and get some points on them.

"They have pretty good size in the middle of that line."

Spring Creek has spent the week "cleaning" up its execution after Saturday's scrimmage against in-county rival Charles B. Aycock. Whitfield and his staff have been reviewing the fundamentals in practice this week

Whitfield said timing issues surfaced with center-quarterback and quarterback-backfield exchanges. He attributed the shakiness to young players in skill positions who needed some repetition and experience.

The Gators must consistently move the chains and execute on each play. Whitfield said the staff also addressed conditioning to get the team in better shape for a 48-minute contest.

"We need to do the little things to make us better for Friday night," said Whitfield.

The Blue Devils will continue to run an I-formation offense. The Gators must gang tackle well, force some turnovers and avoid getting into a shootout.

South Lenoir has prevailed in seven consecutive outings against Wayne County teams and scored 40 or more points in five of those contests. The Blue Devils are 10-14-1 all-time against Wayne County opposition.