08/27/09 — OPINION - Local gridiron plots thicken

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OPINION - Local gridiron plots thicken

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on August 27, 2009 1:47 PM

The opening act led to an enticing, dramatic plot as the high school football season kicked off Friday.

Here are the Week 1 storylines:

* Transfers -- New Princeton quarterback David Gurganus, a starter at Charles B. Aycock last season, threw for a career-best 271 yards in the Dawgs' season-opening conquest of Hobbton.

Ryan Jones, who spent last fall at Eastern Wayne, collected 162 yards and scored a touchdown in Spring Creek's road loss at South Lenoir. Stability in the Gators' running game should be a big boost they pursue their first victory since 2006.

* Backfield workhorses -- Four running backs paved the way and piled up 120 or more yards during their respective games.

North Duplin's Devin Oliver emerged the area's top rusher with a 223-yard, two-touchdown effort against Southside.

Aycock's Marcus Cobb rambled for 212 yards and three TDs in a come-from-behind, 39-38 victory over Bunn. It was Cobb's fifth 100-yard performance in his last six outings since 2008.

Jones and Greene Central's Kenzie Phillips (122 yards) also turned in century-mark efforts. Keep an eye on the running back battle this season. It should be entertaining each week.

* New quarterbacks -- Signal callers experienced mixed results.

James Kenan's Dasmine Smith rushed for 104 yards, threw for 50 yards and accounted for three TDs -- including an 85-yard interception return and 95-yard kickoff return.

Rashawn Barnes tossed a TD in a 190-yard showing in Eastern Wayne's season-opening loss to Wilson Hunt. Meanwhile, Southern Wayne's Quintin Smith completed five passes for 80 yards in his varsity debut in Dudley.

Aycock's Tyler Farmer threw a TD strike, tipped by Deven Sanders into the waiting hands of Tyheim Pitt. North Lenoir's Romero Arnold and Goldsboro's Cortez Sprangle struggled in their respective debuts.

* Turnovers were critical.

Aycock's defense forced three fumbles and picked off two passes, the last interception sealing its comeback win. James Kenan and Princeton profited from fumble returns.

Heading into Week 2, the plot is expected to thicken as new characters are bound to step into the spotlight.