11/26/09 — Goldsboro line has taken leadership role

View Archive

Goldsboro line has taken leadership role

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on November 26, 2009 7:01 AM

What was once Goldsboro's biggest concern at the start of the season has now become a source of immense pride.

With seven starters lost on both the offensive and defensive lines from a year ago, Cougars head coach Eric Reid was unsure what to expect from a pair of rebuilt units in 2009.

Goldsboro struggled up front on both sides of the ball in scrimmages against Jack Britt, Seventy-First and the season opener against New Hanover.

The Cougars' normally powerful running game was held to just 112 yards and didn't find the end zone in the loss to New Hanover. Meanwhile, a defense that gave up less than 14 points a game in 2008 was torched for 42.

Three weeks later, the Cougars surrendered 300 yards on the ground and another 100 through the air in a 44-8 home loss to Charles B. Aycock. The Golden Falcons held Goldsboro to 71 rushing yards and didn't surrender a rushing touchdown.

"I knew we had to do something that was going to make us grow and grow quick," said Reid. "I knew in order for us to grow we were going to have to play some competition. Then you have an offensive line coach like Ronnie McClary who played in the CIAA and the kids bought into what we were doing."

Since losing to Aycock in mid-September, Goldsboro (11-2 overall) has reeled off nine consecutive wins. Both the offensive lines have grown in confidence by gaining valuable game experience and have a developed a chemistry that's bonded both units together.

"In the beginning we struggled because a lack of experience," said junior defensive end and offensive lineman Jarran Reed. "We're just getting off the ball better and creating holes. We're becoming more of a family and we know what our weakness is and what our strengths are."

Reed and his fellow offensive lineman understand the expectations that come with blocking for a pair of highly-touted running backs like Andre Montgomery and Freddie Jones.

Jones and Montgomery accounted for nearly 2,500 of Goldsboro's 4,265 rushing yards a year ago and together they scored 39 touchdowns. After struggling to create running lanes early on, the Cougars offensive line has seen its backs rush for over 350 yards nine times this season.

"We feel a lot of pressure, but that's what makes us better, too," said Reed. "We're trying to get that hole for them to run through."

A confident offensive line has also gone a long way toward the maturation process of junior first-year starting quarterback Corteiz Sprangle.

Sprangle struggled early in the season, throwing five interceptions and just one touchdown pass in the first four games. Sprangle has been picked off just twice during Goldsboro's nine-game winning streak and has thrown seven touchdown passes.

The Cougars' defense has regained its swagger in the midst of nine consecutive wins. Opponents have averaged just 10 points a game during that streak and have been intercepted 14 times.

Vontarius Kornegay leads the team in tackles with 141, followed by Reed's 130 stops. Reed also has a team-high five sacks.

"With having defensive line coach Grant Thomas on our staff who played at the Air Force Academy and the fundamentals he teaches them day in and day out really helps them," said Reid. "It really helps them working our defensive scheme."