09/15/06 — Friday forecast Ñ Getting defensive

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Friday forecast Ñ Getting defensive

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on September 15, 2006 2:22 PM

This one's for the "D."

I'm as guilty as the next reporter ... sometimes I don't recognize the defensive standouts as much as they deserve in my game stories.

It's very likely you'll read about team defensive achievements and statistics from week-to-week in the Sunday reports. But for whatever reason, those guys with 10 tackles or those that drop a running back for a big loss too often don't get the mention they deserve.

We've all heard this over-simplified phrase plenty of times ... "The team that scores the most wins."

Only partly true.

If you figure defense into that equation, it should read, "the team that outscores their opponent wins." I'm getting into semantics, but there's a difference. After all, getting key stops in a football game can be equally or more valuable to the winning side than third-down efficiency or any offensive number.

By now you probably know the running backs, quarterbacks and receivers that are going to be at the top of the leaders over the next few months. Some new players may emerge, some may slide down the board, but offensive focus' don't tend to change that quick in high school football. Because if it ain't broke ...

Defense is a little different. Sure, linebackers often are the leading tacklers on most teams and usually have the gaudy numbers. But it's less-predictable as to who might make a big sack on the defensive line, force a fumble and run it back to paydirt or intercept a pass and put their offense in good field position.

With those factors in mind, here's a quick glance at some of the defensive leaders from around the area:

* C.B. Aycock -- Senior linebacker Travis Milligan leads the way with 30 tackles, while junior safety Jacob Pendleton and junior cornerback Ian Calder have combined for 31 tackles in the defensive backfield. Senior defensive end Tim Umeofia has added 14 tackles up front. The Falcons have a shutout to their credit against Clayton.

* Eastern Wayne -- Senior linebacker Adrian Black leads the way with 25 tackles and one sack. Fellow senior backer Brandon Johnson has 16.5 tackles and four sacks. Junior DB Dwight Ulmer already has two interceptions and a fumble recovery for a touchdown, while senior Lamar Lamb has two fumble recoveries.

* Goldsboro -- Andrew Phifer, just a junior, already has close to 40 tackles -- including 16 solos -- from his middle linebacker spot . Senior nose guard Justin Hall and junior defensive tackle Antown Greenfield have combined for 39 tackles up front, while weakside linebacker Dan Bryant has 20 tackles.

* Rosewood -- Junior OLB Chris Hare has been in on 42 tackles, while senior ILB Robert Franks has been in on 39 and junior defensive end Holt Rains has been in on 37. Senior Jonathan Peedin leads the defensive backfield with two interceptions. The Eagles opponents have fumbled 11 times and Rosewood has picked up 10 of the loose balls.

* Southern Wayne -- Coach Bob Warren offered praise for his defense as a unit after last week's win over Western Harnett ... Alex Aldridge, a junior DB/LB has several interceptions in the early going, while brothers Eric and John Futrell and fellow defensive back Tristan Bass are also making big plays. Dequan Cozart, a junior backer, is among the leading tacklers.

* Spring Creek -- Sophomore linebacker Desmond Raeford has racked up 45 tackles to lead the Gators, while fellow sophomore Alan Michael Price (FS) has 39 tackles. Junior defensive linemen, Dwight Strickland and Tyree Floyd have combined for 35 tackles, two sacks and two fumble recoveries. Junior cornerback Alex Dunmire leads the secondary with 16 tackles and one interception.

* Greene Central -- Senior defensive lineman Brandon Sutton has 27 tackles and five sacks and anchors a defense yielding just 8.6 points per game. Junior Danny Moye has 19 tackles and two interceptions, while senior J.J. Thompson has 15 tackles. Junior Tyrell Lane has picked off two passes to lead the Rams' secondary.

* James Kenan -- Seniors Alex Flores (LB), Darius Hand (DE), Jermaine Young (NG) AND Akeem Faison (LB) anchor a defense giving up less than 10 points per game.

* North Duplin -- Four-year starters Alex Jimenez and Luis "Bobo" Villalon anchor a 3-3 defensive set as the Rebels are out to a 2-0 start under first-year coach Hugh Martin.

* North Lenoir -- Sophomore Marquis Kornegay already has 30 tackles, while senior Zack Carter has 22 tackles and sophomore Marquez Powell has 21 tackles. Juniors Kenduall Thorbs and Devonte Bizzell have 18 and 16 tackles, respectively.

* Princeton -- Senior defensive lineman Jonathan Hartley has been in on several fumble hits and has one fumble recovery. Junior linebackers Michael Radford and Lee Rose have had solid tackle numbers the last two weeks.

Now, on to the picks ...

Rivalry of the Week

Goldsboro (0-4) at Southern Wayne (2-2) -- Both teams got their offenses going last week and are looking to continue that momentum. With a pair of feature backs like the Saints' Anthony Council and the Cougars' Tremé Boone, this has the makings of a nail-biter in Dudley.

My pick -- Saints.

Revenge of the Week

Eastern Wayne (2-1) at D.H. Conley (2-1) -- Last year, the Warriors were driving and had the ball near the Vikings' goal line before a penalty and time running out on Eastern Wayne's comeback bid. The Warriors' backfield depth will be the difference this time around.

My pick -- Warriors.

Goldens of the Week

C.B. Aycock (3-0) at Wilson Fike (0-3) -- The Golden Falcons are on a roll, and the Golden Demons have lost 14 straight dating back to 2004 (currently the seventh-longest skid in the state). But Fike has weapons and isn't a team that should be taken lightly.

My pick -- Golden Falcons.

Possible Blowout of the Week

Holly Ridge Dixon (0-3) at North Duplin (2-0) -- The Rebels are averaging 30 per outing, while the Bulldogs are giving up almost 50. ND quarterback Doug Lloyd should have a field day before his team faces a tough Hobbton squad next week.

My pick -- Rebels.

ECC vs. EPC of the Week

Kinston (2-2) at Greene Central (3-0) -- The second-of-three Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference teams on the Rams' docket. Jim Bob Bryant's squad should be able to match the Vikings' athleticism and remain unbeaten.

My pick -- Rams.

Birds of Prey of the Week

North Lenoir (1-2) at West Craven (2-1) -- Hawks vs. Eagles, get it? The first of three straight 3-A opponents on North Lenoir's slate. West Craven's defense stifled Kinston last week and should be able to contain the Hawks.

My pick -- Eagles.

Carolina Conference vs. Chatham Central of the Week

Princeton (1-3) at Chatham Central (0-3) -- The Bears have already lost to North Duplin and North Johnston. In a battle of speed vs. size, I like the 'Dawgs' quickness to outlast Chatham in this one.

My pick -- Bulldogs.

Forecaster's fortune -- Last week -- 8-1. Overall --20-8.