09/28/06 — Game of the Week -- East Carteret at Spring Creek

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Game of the Week -- East Carteret at Spring Creek

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 28, 2006 2:20 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- Spring Creek's football team ventured into uncharted waters when it recorded its first-ever, non-losing season in 2005. Included in that 6-6 record was a 3-3 mark against non-conference opposition.

The Gators have two non-league victories this season.

Don't make a bet that getting No. 3 and tying that record will be an easy task against state-ranked East Carteret, which suffered its first loss a week ago. The Mariners dropped to 10th in this week's Associated Press Class 1-A poll after falling 42-7 to perennial power Wallace-Rose Hill.

"I told somebody the other day after they played Wallace that they're either going to be bruised up and banged up, or they're going to be real mad," said Spring Creek coach Roy Whitfield.

Whichever team invades "The Swamp" will undoubtedly present a challenge for the Gators. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

"They're a solid team and have probably one of the better running backs (Andrew Courman) in the state in all classifications," said Whitfield. "He's just a very good football player."

Courman (5-foot-6, 175 pounds) ran for nearly 1,500 yards as a junior and earned all-Coastal Plains Conference honors. He's the focal point in the Mariners' wing-T offense, a scheme that Whitfield says could give Spring Creek some trouble.

East Carteret likes to spread out opposing defenses and use the wing-T as its base offense. Whitfield said that while in that base set, the Mariners use different tactics to move the chains.

The Gator defense yields 310.4 yards per outing.

"I don't think they're as big as they were last year, but they have above-average quickness," said Whitfield. "They don't have an abundance of players, so they have a few guys going both ways.

"Their offensive and defensive lines do a great job, so it's going to be a challenge on both sides of the football for us."

Spring Creek (2-3) is coming off its best offensive performance of the season. The Gators recorded season highs for rushing yards (361), total offense (400) and points scored (34).

Senior Josh Wright, who has emerged as an all-purpose player this season, rushed for a career-best 295 yards against a maligned Bulldog defense. Whitfield expects the Mariners to key on Wright and he hopes the passing game continues to improve after last week.

Quarterback Emmanuel Hinton threw for 39 yards, including a touchdown pass to Alex Dunmire, against Dixon. Having a few extra options on offense draws attention away from Wright, who has shouldered the rushing duties since the Midway game.

"Right now, in our I formation offense, we are relying on Josh," said Whitfield. "Our other backs picked it up a little bit (Friday). We need to get a little more involved other than just handing the ball to Josh every time."

Senior fullback Ronnie Butler sustained a cracked bone in his foot during the Midway game. He's expected to have the cast removed next Thursday and possibly return for the Gators' Oct. 13 contest at Ayden-Grifton.

East Carteret will counter with a 4-4 alignment on defense.

"Their linebackers are very active and the defensive line comes off the ball real good," said Whitfield. "We have to control the football and that's something we harp on every week. We need sustained drives and no turnovers."

The Gators lost three fumbles last week.