Princeton's success, Gators ending skid are hot topics
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 1, 2009 1:59 PM
While the third phase of the high school football season has begun for two teams in the News-Argus readership area, nine squads have enjoyed a much-needed break this week.
Players get a chance to heal the nicks, bruises and bumps suffered during non-conference action. Coaches get a chance to scout, break down more game film and do a mid-season evaluation of their respective teams.
And it's our turn to provide a summary through six weeks.
* Biggest surprise -- Princeton (4-2).
With 16 seniors on the roster, a gunslinger at quarterback and receivers developing a "good-hands" reputation, the Dawgs have bitten several opponents so far this season.
David Gurganus is one of the state's top-rated quarterbacks and has thrown for almost 2,000 yards. Three of his receivers -- Patrick Jacobs, Benton Myers and T.J. Wilson -- hold down the 1, 2 and 3 spots among area receivers.
However, Princeton endured back-to-back losses to Midway (21-12) and South Robeson (8-6) to end their non-conference slate. The Dawgs kick off Carolina 1-A Conference play Oct. 9 at home against Spring Creek.
* Biggest surprise (part 2) -- Spring Creek defense.
Second-year Gators head coach Aaron Sanders has said all season that his defense, directed by coordinator Brian Richardson, has been the stronger part of his team.
The unit certainly proved his point Friday evening during a come-from-behind victory over Dixon, which snapped the state's longest losing streak at 32 games. The Gator "D" played 21 minutes and intercepted Dixon twice inside the red zone to stop two potential scoring drives.
* Great coaching job -- Randy Pinkowski, C.B. Aycock.
The Golden Falcons leader dumped the spread offense playbook and resurrected the I formation. The coaching staff and players believed they could make something special happen this season ... and they have.
Aycock is 6-0 for the first time since 1981 after a stifling defensive effort against Wilson Hunt last week. It was Pink's first-ever win over the Warriors.
Marcus Cobb has proven his worth in the backfield, Craig Murdock has adjusted to his role and Tyheim Pitt has emerged the defensive leader. Not a bad trio to keep the Golden Falcons rolling along.
* Getting better -- Greene Central, Goldsboro and Southern Wayne.
The Rams have found some confidence in Ken Grantham's system and posted two victories before running into Eastern Plains 2-A foe Beddingfield last week. Aaron Harper and Michael Baker have developed into "go-to" guys for a team that might just have found its identity.
The Cougars' offensive line continues to mature. While the inconsistency might give Eric Reid a few gray hairs and cause die-hard fans to become "bleacher coaches," Goldsboro will get better as the season progress. North Duplin will be a good measuring stick Oct. 9.
Victories have been sparse the last two seasons, but Saints coach Bob Warren and his team are still marching on in Dudley. Warren has seen considerable growth among his charges since the preseason and doesn't harp too much on wins and losses these days. Those will eventually take care of themselves.
* Keep an eye on -- James Kenan and Eastern Wayne.
It's been three-plus years since the Tigers have had two blemishes on what is usually a spotless record heading into October. But Ken Avent Jr. is a quality coach who is surrounded by an outstanding staff.
Always athletic and talented, Kenan (3-2) will turn it around. Perennial nemesis Pender, which visits Bill Taylor Field on Friday, is a good test on the Tri-County 1-A Conference scene.
The Warriors (0-6) have battled through on- and off-field adversity throughout the season. They're beginning to believe in head coach Bubba Williams, who knows the program is at the "crawling" stage and close to "walking." He's worked hard to instill discipline, character and a winning attitude into the program.