10/25/07 — Game of the week: Hunt at Southern Wayne

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Game of the week: Hunt at Southern Wayne

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 25, 2007 1:49 PM

DUDLEY -- That three-game skid is a distant memory now.

Especially now with a possible conference title on the horizon.

After starting the season 0-3, Southern Wayne has put itself in position to earn a share of the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference crown. The Saints can accomplish the feat with a victory Friday evening against perennial power Wilson Hunt, the two-time defending league champion.

The teams enter the contest tied atop the ECC standings at 3-0. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Doyle Whitfield Athletic Complex.

"You always work towards winning the conference championship, but we're just working one game at a time," said Southern Wayne head coach Bob Warren. "This team has overcome a lot and gotten better throughout the year, which is a sign this team has matured."

"We're very pleased to be where we're at right now."

Warren attributes his team's late-season surge to playing a demanding non-conference schedule. Included in the mix were contests against two teams currently ranked in their respective Associated Press prep polls -- 3-A Rocky Mount (9-0 overall) and perennial 1-A power Wallace-Rose Hill (7-2).

Learning from critical mistakes and building on positive plays from those games helped a once-young team slowly gain some confidence. Now they carry a three-game win streak into Friday evening's affair.

"We've just been able to make plays when we had to make plays and stop teams when we had to stop them," said Warren. "It's a credit to the kids and assistant coaches for putting together a group that's been able to make things happen.

"Our kids have gotten better throughout the year and the teams we played earlier in the season have made us a better team in the long run."

While Warren isn't a coach who heaps praise on a single individual, he readily agreed that both the offensive and defensive lines have steadily progressed since that season-opening Midnight Madness practice July 31. Filling spots and getting the group to play as a unit created concern among the coaching staff.

Nearly four months later, those players are partly responsible for the Saints' opportunity of winning a conference title, something that's never happened in Warren's tenure as head coach.

Anchoring the offensive line is center J.D. Medlin. He's joined by guards Ricky Odden and Edward McCullen, who split time on the left side; and right guard John Kendall. The tackles are Matt Wise (left) and Joseph Otellio (right) with Scott Holloman at tight end. Silonte Thompson is a blocking back in the Saints' wing-T formation.

They've done a tremendous job opening holes for bruising fullback Kelvin Flow, who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season. Teammates Tristan Bass and James Jones complement Flow, and proved pivotal with Flow out of the lineup last week.

On defense, Reginald Price plays noseguard. Wise and Adrian Lee handle the tacking duties with Thompson also getting some considerable playing time.

Both lines will have to execute well against a team the Saints have never beaten. Since joining the ECC in 2005, Hunt has posted two shutouts against Southern Wayne.

"We moved the ball well against them last year, but just couldn't get it across the goal line," said Warren. "We've got to find a way to execute inside the red zone. Defensively, we have to play sound football and not give up the big play.

"We need to make them work for everything they get and we'll need to play very well."

Hunt (8-1 overall) brings a seven-game win streak into the game. The Warriors have scored 20 or more points in seven outings this season and logged a 6-1 ledger during that stretch.

Southern Wayne (5-4) allows nearly 23 points a game.

"They're just like Hunt teams in the past," said Warren. "They're very strong and athletic; throw the ball well and run well with athletes in key positions. They've been that way ever since they've been in this conference."