11/12/06 — Tigers sloppy, but still cruise in Round 1

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Tigers sloppy, but still cruise in Round 1

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 12, 2006 2:02 AM

WARSAW -- Sluggish.



Top-seeded and unbeaten James Kenan displayed all those characteristics in an opening-round, 33-8 playoff victory over Heide Trask on Friday evening at Bill Taylor Field.

First-year head coach Ken Avent Jr. anticipated the dull start after the Tigers claimed an emotional, season-ending triumph over archrival Wallace-Rose Hill just seven days ago. The sparse crowd in attendance expected another blowout of the Titans, which failed to score against Kenan in early September.

"It's tough coming off a game like last week," said Avent Jr. "You try to come back down (emotionally) this week, and that was tough. We had a good week of practice and out of school today, and early (dismissal) yesterday kind of throws you out of your rhythm a little bit.

"We were able to come out and win. That's the main thing."

James Kenan (12-0) entertains Louisburg in a second-round, N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-AA (large-school) contest next Friday. The eighth-seeded Warriors dusted Pamlico County 49-6.

Trask, the No. 16 seed, suffered its eighth consecutive defeat and ended the year 2-10 overall. The Titans are 0-5 all-time against the Tigers.

"I thought we came out and played a little sloppy," said Avent Jr. "They played us tough the last time, so that had us concerned. I knew if we came out flat, we could be in trouble.

"But we did what we needed to do to win."

The Titans crowded the box with nine and 10 players all evening, and stuffed the Tigers' running game on their opening possession. Trask, however, didn't fare much better on its first series and punted.

Kenan took over in Titan territory and quarterback Sean Jones orchestrated a 10-play scoring drive. Jones spread the rushing duties among four backs -- Brandon Satchell, Alex Monk, Stedman Mathis and Jimmy Glaspie. He also completed an 11-yard pass to Jamian Smith, which put the Tigers inside the visitors' red zone.

Glaspie capped the 3 1/2-minute possession with a 2-yard touchdown plunge.

"The first drive, I can't remember what stopped us," said Avent Jr. "Getting that score on the second drive was big. I think that set us on the right (track)."

Senior linebacker Alex Flores crushed running back Lorenzo Armstrong on a key fourth-down, red-zone play on the Titans' next series. Kenan gained possession at its own 21-yard line and needed just four snaps to put its second touchdown on the board.

Mathis broke loose for a 44-yard touchdown run to make it 13-0.

"They had everybody in the box ... played 10 against the run and tried to take some things away," said Avent Jr. "But, we still ran the ball good and we were pleased with that."

Flores helped set up the Tigers' next touchdown. He tipped a pass by Titan quarterback Justin Bland and Tony Jones recorded the first of his three, second-quarter picks. Four plays later, Sean Jones hooked up with Smith for a 28-yard touchdown pass.

Jones halted two more Trask possessions with interceptions, but neither led to a score. Teammate Javone Devane provided the Tigers' final touchdown, a 65-yard punt return, just seconds before halftime.

James Kenan, ranked No. 2 in the latest Associated Press prep poll, increased its advantage to 33-0 in the third quarter. Satchell, who rushed for 60 yards on 10 carries, rambled in from 9 yards out for the touchdown.

Andrew Lindner's fourth-quarter fumble recovery led to Bland's 2-yard touchdown scamper, and spoiled the Tigers' shutout bid. Kenan's last postseason shutout, a 44-0 dismantling of Jones Senior, occurred in 1997.

"We're going to keep on trucking," said Avent Jr. "Next week is going to be a good game and we're glad we got them here."

Notes: James Kenan has won 12 games in a season for the first time since 1991 and the 12-0 start is the first since 1962. ... The Tigers collected their fourth straight playoff win at home and boosted their all-time record to 16-14 in the postseason since 1972. ... James Kenan defense -- LB Darius Hand with five tackles, two assists; LB Tony Jones with four tackles, one assist; LB Alex Flores with four tackles, two assists, two tackles for loss yardage; DB Akeem Faison with three tackles, six assists; lineman Rell Butler with three tackles, two assists; JV call-up Derick Barden and Butler each recovered a fumble.