09/07/06 — Game of the Week -- Roanoke Rapids at Rosewood

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Game of the Week -- Roanoke Rapids at Rosewood

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on September 7, 2006 2:20 PM

Midweek football practices are usually scripted and drills are acutely timed.

For good reason, Rosewood went a little lighter than usual on Wednesday afternoon.

Just three days removed from a physical 23-12 loss in the rain to Hobbton on Tuesday night, coach Daniel Barrow and the Eagles (1-2) will host Class 2-A Roanoke Rapids (0-3) on Friday. The Yellow Jackets fell 34-27 at home on Monday to Paquotank.

"We're a little sore, but we came out of the game healthy," Barrow said. "We'll go semi-light and get the soreness out ... put the clock in the trash can until I feel they have a good understanding of things. We won't have a time line like there usually is."

Fortunately for the Eagles, Roanoke Rapids is another wing-t team -- somewhat similar to Chocowinity Southside and Hobbton.

The key for Barrow's squad will be gearing of for some of the Yellow Jackets' formations -- including a shotgun set -- which they use nearly 25 percent of the time. According to Barrow, Roanoke Rapids has a 2-1 pass-run ratio when they are in the shotgun.

Roanoke Rapids may be winless, but they aren't without weapons. Trimaine Simmons is a capable running back, while wide receiver Justin Blue already has five touchdowns on the young season.

"What we've got to concentrate on more is what they do in the unusual formations," Barrow said. "We'll work hard on that today and make sure our alignment is right so we can't get out-flanked."

Also playing into the Eagles' favor is the Jackets' 4-4 defensive set, which they saw on Tuesday against the Wildcats.

"Defensively, they are a 4-4 gap control unit and similar in philosophy to Hobbton. It's not something we haven't seen," Barrow said. "We went against a similar look all preseason and ran a stack some against our offense because we knew they had it. We'll probably spend a little more time on that."

As of this morning, there is just a slight chance of rain in Friday's forecast which should bode well for Rosewood and the condition of Branch Pope Field, which had its fair share of divots after Tuesday's soggy clash against Hobbton.

The Eagles picked up five lost fumbles by the Wildcats, but Rosewood's own offense managed just five first downs in the game and had six crucial turnovers. Barrow believes field position was a big key in the outcome of Tuesday's game.

"Hobbton had the better field position early," he said. "They had a little shorter field than us in the first half. The second half, as far as field position, was equal. I thought we played hard. It was a tremendous game as far as effort on both sides."

Rosewood comes in averaging 216 yards of offense per game led by senior running back Devon Bennett, who is posting 76 yards per game on the ground. The Eagles' defense is yielding 244.7 yards per contest.

Roanoke Rapids defeated Rosewood last year 38-12, but the Eagles earned a win for the game as the Yellow Jackets had to forfeit their victories last season due to an ineligible player.

Friday's game is also a battle of pupil vs. teacher as Barrow coached Roanoke Rapids head coach Tim Bennett in 1980 at Northern Durham. Bennett also assisted Barrow in 2003 when Barrow coached the East-West All-Star game in Greensboro.