12/07/07 — A busy day for Duplin County and the Avents

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A busy day for Duplin County and the Avents

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on December 7, 2007 1:48 PM

WARSAW -- With a pair of state titles on the line, Saturday could be special day for folks in Duplin County.

Especially those in the Avent family.

North Duplin athletics director Ken Avent Sr., and his son, James Kenan head coach Ken Avent Jr., will be making a bit of history this weekend. They will become the first father and son duo in state history to have the father as an athletic director of a school competing for a state title and the son coaching in a championship game.

Avent Sr.'s other son, John, serves as defensive coordinator at James Kenan. Both Ken Avent Sr. and Jr. have held the head coaching position at North Duplin in the past. Ken Avent Jr. also spent time as an assistant under his father at North Duplin.

The Rebels (14-0 overall) will square off with Plymouth (15-0) in the 1-A title game at 11 a.m. at N.C. State's Carter-Finley Stadium. North Duplin last appeared in a state championship game in 1975, and last won a state title in 1972.

Meanwhile, the Tigers (15-0) will make their second consecutive state championship appearance when they meet West Montgomery (13-2) for the 1-AA crown at 7:30 p.m. at UNC Chapel Hill's Kenan Stadium.

James Kenan's bid for its second state crown in school history fell short in a 13-7 loss to Thomasville last year in Chapel Hill.

For the elder Avent, Saturday's schedule will be jammed packed with a pair of football games, trips Carter-Finley and Kenan Stadiums, and of course, balancing the emotions that come with being an athletics director and a proud parent.

"When you're an athletic director, being able to go to ballgames is enjoyable to start with," Avent Sr. said. "Being able to go to two state championship games in the same day and to be pulling for people that you support is really good. It's kind of like being a parent, you like to see your children do good.

"All these coaches involved played for me, and some of them are my children. You just want them to do well, and hopefully they'll experience a good thing."

While his father no longer roams the sidelines as a head coach, Ken Avent Jr. still taps into his father's wealth of football knowledge on a regular basis. The two typically get together at least once a week to go over film, talk strategy and look for ways to help the Tigers improve.

"He lives right down the street from me," Avent Jr. said of his father. "We see each other every weekend and talk about the previous game and the upcoming game. He doesn't get to come to many of our games, so I get him the game film and he tells me what he thinks."

From his two sons, to the school for which he's the AD, to former players he once coached, Avent Sr.'s fingerprints on both programs will be clearly visible on Saturday.

"I counted up and I've got seven former players that are going to be coaching either in Raleigh or in Chapel Hill Saturday," Avent Sr. said. "Hopefully, some of the things they do I influenced, and hopefully it was all good."

If the chips fall right for the Rebels and Tigers this weekend, Saturday's story could end up feeling like one that belongs in Hollywood just as much as it does in Duplin County.

"It would just be a dream come true for everybody," Avent Sr. said. "You can't sit down and write that out. If both of them win I'm going to be proud of them. If both of them lose, I'm going to be proud of them."