11/12/09 — Let the playoffs begin

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Let the playoffs begin

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on November 12, 2009 1:48 PM

On the road again is becoming the theme in Calypso when the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A playoffs roll around each season.

The Rebels (4-7 overall) travel to Cherokee for a first-round game Friday and fourth-year head coach Hugh Martin has a positive feeling about the contest.

"We are happy to still be playing and we're happy to have this opportunity," Martin said after Wednesday's practice. "Our guys have had a couple of good days at practice and they are looking forward to Friday night."

If the Rebels are going to pull an upset, the key may be the team's new-found consistency.

Martin's run-first offensive unit has battled several injuries throughout the season but is finally healthy heading into the playoffs. An early dual quarterback setup has given way to a single signal caller and a more efficient scheme.

"Alan (Schilling) and Devin (Oliver) have taken the offense to a point over the last two weeks where it's at its best," said Martin. "I hope that the momentum that we have built can carry over."

Schilling and junior Marcus Kornegay began the season splitting snaps at quarterback, but after Kornegay missed two games, Schilling emerged as the Rebels' best option to handle the play calling.

Oliver has shouldered the load in the backfield since coming back from an early injury. The fleet-footed sophomore eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in the Rebels' regular-season finale against Spring Creek. As an added bonus, Oliver has been able to rack up yards without having to take a disproportionate amount of the carries.

"I think Devin feels good right now and I think he is fresh," said Martin. "He battled a couple of injuries this season, but he has been able to get healthy and step up his production over the last three games."

Looking forward to the Rebels' matchup with the Braves, Martin was quick to point out that the contest will likely be decided in the trenches.

As the Rebels offense has settled into a routine, it's been the line that has matured the most. The young, but talented group will be in for a test on Friday night thanks to a large set of defensive tackles that lead the Braves' defense.

"Every time I see a team from Cherokee on tape it seems like they get bigger," Martin said. "I don't know how they do it, but they are as big up front as they were when we played in 2006."

The Rebels drove 300 miles and pulled off a shocking victory in that game. A repeat performance on Friday night would be another impressive mark on the North Duplin postseason resume.