Game of the Week - James Kenan at Greene Central
By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on September 20, 2007 2:55 PM
SNOW HILL -- Although it's not a David vs. Goliath encounter, underdog Greene Central is taking that approach for Friday's game against Class 1-A heavyweight James Kenan.
And beating the Tigers (5-0 overall) will be a daunting task.
"We were the underdog last week against Kinston," said Greene Central head coach Jim Bob Bryant, whose team upset the Vikings 25-16. "We want to be the underdog. Nobody in the state is going to give us a chance to win this game.
"We're hoping to sneak up on them and try to get the game into the fourth quarter. We're used to playing in close games."
Twice this season Greene Central has pulled off last-second wins and the Rams are hoping for a third chance against James Kenan. To do so will mean shutting down a dynamic offense that can beat an opponent in many different ways.
The Tigers are deep at running back with Stedman Mathis, Brandon Satchell and Akeem Carlton all sharing carries. Second-year James Kenan coach Ken Avent Jr. credits the Tigers' offensive line for much of the ground game's success this season.
"Our offensive line has done a great job blocking all year," he said. "We've also done a great job at holding onto the ball. That's been a big key."
James Kenan can also turn to quarterback Shawn Jones for many plays. The 6-foot-1 senior has thrown for 409 yards and an area-high five touchdowns so far this season.
"They've got a big, strong offensive line and a good, left-handed quarterback who can make you pay if you put too many in the box," said Bryant. "We're going to do what we can to put them in second-, and third-and-long situations. It's going to be tough to do, but that's our goal going in."
Greene Central (4-1) features a wide-open offense with a quarterback who is as strong two-way threat. William Brown ranks among the area leaders in both passing and rushing, which concerns the Tigers.
"Being able to throw it like he can or scramble to make plays makes him tough to defend," said Avent. "It's hard to give that same look in practice, so we'll have to make adjustments as we go along."
Avent will be counting on his secondary of Tony Jones, Duan Alston and Josh Dixon to keep the Rams' receivers covered down field. Up front, James Kenan will need a strong rush from Eric Morrisey, Roderick Butler and Derrick Barden to keep pressure on Brown.
"William's going to have to make quick decisions," said Bryant. "They blitz from every angle. He's going to have to get rid of the ball quickly and not take sacks."
The Greene Central coaching staff has been working extensively with Brown to get the quarterback to take a one- or two-step drop and make the throw.
"We want him to make plays with his arm and have him get the ball to our receivers and have them make plays," said Bryant.
One of Brown's favorite targets is receiver Curtis Braswell. The 6-foot speedster leads the area in receptions (13), yards per game (50.4) and touchdowns (4).
His presence should give Kenan's secondary plenty to be concerned about.
Despite its talented weapons, Greene Central still has the "us against the world mentality" and Bryant is hoping that will let his players relax come Friday night.
"Against James Kenan, we're going to play like we have nothing to lose," said Bryant. "We'll play loose and free. Hopefully we can stay close until the fourth quarter and try to pull off one of the biggest upsets in the state.
"We're going to have to play an almost perfect game to beat them."
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