11/23/06 — Game of the Week -- N. Duplin and James Kenan

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Game of the Week -- N. Duplin and James Kenan

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 23, 2006 8:23 AM

The busiest shopping day of the year has gotten busier for numerous Duplin County residents, especially those in Calypso and Warsaw.

Football teams from those two community schools -- North Duplin and James Kenan -- have a little shopping in mind themselves. Each is going after another N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A playoff victory, which puts them closer to the bigger prize -- a state title.

North Duplin (10-2) puts its six-game winning streak on the line Friday at unbeaten and No. 7-ranked Cherokee in the 1-A (small-school) western semifinals. Unbeaten and top-seeded James Kenan (13-0) entertains fourth-seeded Pender County in their 1-AA (large-school) eastern semifinal at Bill Taylor Field the same evening.

Each contest kicks off at 7:30 p.m.

First-year Rebels head coach Hugh Martin admitted his staff didn't circle possible wins and losses on this year's schedule. With the program's most-experienced group of players since 2003, Martin figured something good might transpire.

"We felt like we were going to be improved going into the season and how many wins that would translate into, we as a staff, just didn't know," said Martin. "I felt like we had the capability to put together a great season and the kids have worked hard to make that happen."

Cherokee presents the Rebels' biggest challenge of the postseason.

Junior running back Langston Wood has emerged western North Carolina's top rusher with 2,000-plus yards and 30 touchdowns this season. Senior Josh Carr and junior Crowe Carr ... yes, they're brothers ... have also collected their fair share of rushing yards and touchdowns.

"Wood has that extra gear that special backs seem to have," said Martin. "He can make people miss on the perimeter and out-run those same people on the perimeter.

"(Either Crowe) is a hard-nosed runner inside."

The trio runs behind an offensive line that has three players who weigh 270 pounds. Wood has rushed for nearly 500 yards in the postseason and Cherokee has scored a combined 98 points in those two games.

Martin said the Braves run either the I-formation or split-back veer offensively. The Rebel defense saw the split-back veer last week against Rosman, which missed getting production from its top two offensive players.

Defensively, Cherokee runs a 5-2, but doesn't stunt too much. North Duplin will probably see another crowded box at the line of scrimmage.

"We need to do some things we've done other times this season," said Martin.