09/25/08 — Local teams finding leaders

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Local teams finding leaders

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on September 25, 2008 12:45 PM

North Lenoir is flourishing in its running game.

Charles B. Aycock's offense might be grounded.

And youth is filling the void at Eastern Wayne.

As non-conference play winds down, the three News-Argus area teams are answering questions and addressing concerns before league play begins Oct. 10.

At LaGrange, Marquez Powell has emerged as the Hawks' top offensive player. He's rambled for an area-leading 759 yards during North Lenoir's surprising -- and eye-catching -- 3-1 start.

"Marquez is an amazing runner, but the thing that a lot of people don't realize is that he plays almost every down on defense as well," said Hawks head coach Wayne Jackson. "He is a leader on the field, and with a young team you need to have a guy like that."

The bye week has been beneficial for the banged-up Hawks.

"We had some time for guys to rest and to heal," said Jackson. "We used the bye week for that, but I hope we didn't let our timing get away from us. I am a coach that likes to have a routine and I think a bye can throw that routine off, but overall I think the week was good for our team."

North Lenoir expects to see a crowded box when Charles B. Aycock visits Bullock Field on Friday evening. Jackson has been stressing execution on both sides of the ball.

However, the Golden Falcons (1-3 overall) took a blow last week. Quarterback Craig Murdock suffered a right-shoulder injury against Wilson Fike and will be evaluated before kickoff this week.

When Murdock exited the game, Aycock's offense floundered. David Gurganus and Zack Poole split time at quarterback, but the team's zest had diminished.

Murdock's ability will be missed.

"If you're a spread offense, that guy that you stick back there at quarterback has to be a double threat," said Aycock head coach Randy Pinkowski. "The defense has to worry about him as a runner and as a passer. The real thing that won the job for Craig is that he had the best foot speed of everybody.

"It comes down to when he runs the ball or when things break down, who's going to be able to get out of backfield and get most out of it? And that was Craig."

Murdock came out of his shell during the Goldsboro game. A four-touchdown underdog, the Golden Falcons pulled off a 16-13 stunner as Murdock rushed for one touchdown and threw the game-winning score in the final two minutes. Murdock went through his progressions on the play and found Deven Sanders wide open behind the Cougars' defense.

"Coming out of the Goldsboro game we felt like Craig was finally understanding what we needed him to do," said Pinkowski. "Everything we called had an option for him to keep the football and he was finally beginning to understand that part of it.

"I think he has unlimited potential and everyone I talk to that's seen him play thinks the same thing."

Are Eastern Wayne's 'Best' days in the past?

Starting tailback Hassan Best, the Warriors' top rusher, has been lost for the season for undisclosed reasons. Head coach Jeff Price declined to comment on the decision.

"Hassan won't be back," said Price. "There are other circumstances that I can't release or comment on. He meant a lot to our football team."

Best's younger brother Lamar (5-foot-5, 135 pounds) has compiled 155 yards and a touchdown on 44 carries. He'll shoulder the offensive load along with backfield mates Jonathan Midgette, Rashon Barnes and Mac Stover.

Eastern Wayne (2-3) is off this week after suffering back-to-back shutouts to Wilson Fike and West Craven. Price hopes his team can get healthy before its non-conference game against North Lenoir on Oct. 3.

"All of our backs are kind of limping right now but they're all very capable," said Price. "It's a good thing we have a bye week to try and get healthy. I'm sure the guys may get down a little bit, but I think they'll bounce back and rally and things will fall back in line."