09/22/06 — Golden Falcon seniors showing leadership

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Golden Falcon seniors showing leadership

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on September 22, 2006 2:12 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Experience seems to be paying off for Charles B. Aycock's football team.

During the last two games, the Golden Falcons, who have 19 seniors, have experienced adversity. Both times -- at home against Goldsboro then at Wilson Fike -- they emerged with a victory to remain unbeaten.

"Goldsboro caught up with us late in the game, and it was interesting to see how our kids put that drive together," Aycock coach Randy Pinkowski said. "Last week against Fike, we had some adversity in spots in the first half, and the kids were in the huddle wondering what was going on. When things don't go your way, you pull together and not apart. This group has that capability ... they can weather the storm."

Pinkowski believes the non-conference schedule is the perfect time to learn these important lessons.

"When we get on down the road, there are going to be nights where you have to play from behind and pull something out of your hat," he said. "I think they'll be able to handle that when it comes."

When Aycock (4-0) travels to North Lenoir tonight for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, Pinkowski expects another tough physical and mental test. The Class 2-A Hawks are just 1-3, but two of those losses are to 3-A schools (Kinston and West Craven) and the other was to perennial stalwart, East Duplin. The combined margin of loss in those three games was just 11 points.

Under the direction of coach Wayne Jackson, North Lenoir features a wing-t offense led by running back Nick Williams, who is averaging over 100 yards per game. The Hawks have passed just eight times per contest as quarterback Andrew Manning has a .578 completion percentage with 362 yards and three touchdowns.

North Lenoir is averaging 274 yards per game on offense and is yielding 266. According to Jackson, the Hawks' biggest struggles have been in the second quarter.

"Our downfall thus far has been in the second quarter ... we gave up three touchdowns against Kinston and two against West Craven in the second," Jackson said. "We've outscored our opponents in the second half and fourth quarter. Against both East Duplin and Kinston, I didn't think we finished out plays the way we should."

Going up against an Aycock squad scoring 33.5 points per game, Jackson believes the Falcons' balance of run and pass makes them a difficult matchup. Aycock's Dontay Taylor already has 860 yards and 10 touchdowns in four games. Meanwhile, quarterback Thomas Pilkington has thrown for over 500 yards with a .466 completion percentage. Montez Ham has proven to be the Falcons' biggest receiving threat with 285 yards and five touchdowns.

"They've got a good tailback (Taylor) with quickness and speed. He's always got a forward-lean, and he's going to finish for positive yards on every down," Jackson said. "The quarterback (Pilkington) is efficient. He's real accurate, and he's got good receivers to throw it to."

Linebacker Travis Milligan (41 tackles) leads an Aycock defense yielding just 14.5 points per contest.

"Defensively, they are well-schooled and well-coached," Jackson said. "They look to be assignment-oriented and disciplined. It's a tough task for us this week against an undefeated team."

If Aycock can remain unbeaten, it will be 5-0 for just the fourth time in school history and the first time since Dave Thomas' 1980 and 1981 squads. The Falcons' best starts were in 1967 (under coach Dave McClenney) and 1980 as they began 9-0 both times.

But Pinkowski insists chasing those numbers aren't important.

"We're not talking about records or anything. We just want to build momentum," he said. "By this point in time, we are ending the pre-conference season. Everything should start coming naturally. We need to play with great anticipation and move rapidly."