08/15/09 — The hunted: Goldsboro picked to win Carolina 1-A football title

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The hunted: Goldsboro picked to win Carolina 1-A football title

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on August 15, 2009 11:01 PM

The new kid on the block is getting a lot of attention.

Carolina 1-A Conference newcomer Goldsboro is undoubtedly the favorite to capture the 2009 league title.

The Cougars received four first-place votes and 24 points during an informal poll conducted by the News-Argus. Defending conference champion Ayden-Grifton collected two first-place votes and 22 points.

Senior-laden Princeton (15 points) finished third in the balloting. Rounding out the six-team league were North Duplin (13), Rosewood (11) and Spring Creek (5).

"There are a lot of good teams in this league and we know it is going to be a challenge," said third-year Goldsboro head coach Eric Reid. "We have to improve every week so that we are playing our best football when the conference comes around."

Goldsboro logged a 10-3-1 record last season and reached the 2-A (small-school) eastern semifinals. Several skill backs return, but just one starter is back on the offensive and defensive lines combined.

"Goldsboro has enjoyed so much success in the 2-A ranks it would be hard to think that they won't be successful this season," said Ayden-Grifton head coach Paul Cornwell, whose program has collected three league titles since 2004.

"We are hoping that when we play (Goldsboro) the last week of the season that it's a meaningful game."

Reid agrees.

"That would be an exciting game," said Reid. "They have been the 'Cock of the Walk' in the league lately and we have to go up there, so it could turn out to be a big night."

Princeton came within 10 points of posting a seven-win season in 2008. North Duplin won back-to-back Carolina championships in 2006 and 2007, while Rosewood hasn't won a league crown since 1999.

"I think this team will be much-improved," said third-year Eagles head coach Robert Britt. "The question now is if that improvement will lead to close losses or to wins."

As the preseason concludes, each coach is measuring his squad against potential opponents. Second-year Spring Creek coach Aaron Sanders has been pleased with his team's workouts and he's not concerned the Gators are picked to finish sixth in the league.

"It doesn't bother me at all," said Sanders. "We are working on making our team better every day and hopefully we can show our improvement on the field."