08/24/06 — Game of the Week - Warriors and Cougars set to battle

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Game of the Week - Warriors and Cougars set to battle

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on August 24, 2006 2:44 PM

For one team, it's a season opener. For the other, it's a chance for some revenge.

When Eastern Wayne travels to rival Goldsboro on Friday, the Warriors will look to get out to a strong start for the second straight season. On the home sideline, the Cougars hope to bounce back from a 40-24 loss to Rocky Mount last Friday and two consecutive losses to Eastern Wayne.

Due to the last N.C. High School Athletic Association realignment, the game will have no bearing on any conference standings for the second consecutive year. But the crosstown contest between two schools separated by less than 10 miles still carries plenty of importance.

"The guys are excited about the game," said Goldsboro coach Maurice Jackson, a former assistant coach at Eastern Wayne. "Any time you are playing your friends or rivals, you just try to make sure they stay focused on the job at hand."

Warriors' coach Jeff Price, entering his fourth season at the helm in New Hope, has seen his team make steady strides since the first day of practice.

Without a game last week, Price said his squad treated Thursday's scrimmage at home against East Carteret more as a real game -- especially since it was their only head-to-head preseason contest. First-year varsity quarterback David White and senior running back Kendrick Best seem to have a good grasp of the option package heading into Friday.

"They are improving each day. When you run the option, it doesn't matter what they see ... they know what their reads are," Price said. "You can do what you want on defense, but there are ways to undermine it. He's (White) improving at that.

"All of our skill guys are capable of running it and catching it, and David is capable of running it and throwing it. I like how we are progressing on defense and special teams as well."

In scouting the Cougars last week, Price liked Goldsboro's competitiveness against one of the top 3-A teams in the east.

"Rocky Mount was impressive, and I think Goldsboro did some good things," said Price. "They are solid, well-coached and they'll get better as the year progresses. They've got the tools to get the job done. They've got two good-sized tackles (Marcus Uzzell and Donald Pollock, Jr.) on the offensive line, and we've got to make sure to control the line of scrimmage.

"Our defense has got to be sound and fly to the ball."

Save a 62-yard rumble up the middle by junior Hykeen Coley, the Cougars never got their running game going against the bigger Gryphons. Tremé Boone was held to 23 yards on 10 carries. Defensively, Goldsboro had trouble defending the run as a bevy of Rocky Mount backs combined for over 350 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

On a positive note, first-year varsity starting quarterback, Tim Kornegay finished 6-for-13 passing for 147 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Two of the touchdowns went to South Carolina transfer Jamar Branch, while tight end Burnie Best caught one. Kornegay also had a handful of slick, first-down rushes.

"We've got to get the running game going and be more consistent," Jackson said. "Whether it's Tremé or Hykeen, we've got to have more consistency out of the blocking up front. Tim and Jamar is going to be a big connection, but we also know that people will start rolling safeties over and double-teaming. That's when the other guys have to step up and make the most of it.

"Tim was a little rusty on his first couple passes, but once he settled down you could see what kind of player he was."

The Warriors, who finished 4-6-1 last year, have won the last two meetings against the Cougars by scores of 15-12 (2004) and 26-0 (2005). Goldsboro won the previous three meetings -- 18-12 (2001), 30-13 (2002) and 6-0 (2003).