Coach matures as team gains confidence
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on December 3, 2009 1:50 PM
Following a disappointing home loss to East Duplin in an opening-round, 2-A playoff game in 2007, Goldsboro head coach Eric Reid vowed he and his program would continue to grow.
Now in his third season at his alma mater, Reid has made good on his promise. The Cougars are a win away from playing for a coveted state championship.
Reid inherited a team in 2007 that had finished 0-11 the season before and endured significant losses to graduation. After a 1-2 start, Goldsboro finished 8-4 in Reid's first year at the helm and reeled off six consecutive wins before the season-ending loss to East Duplin.
The Cougars compiled a 10-3-1 record a year ago and reached the eastern 2-A semifinals where they fell 28-12 at Tarboro. Goldsboro is currently 12-2, in the midst of a 10-game winning streak and unbeaten away from home this season.
Reid has a 30-9-1 coaching record in two-plus seasons.
"We've been blessed to let this thing happen and have it progress this way," said Reid. "If we're blessed enough to win a state championship it would be story book. I fell into a good thing at the right time. The relationship was easier and the transition was easier.
"It wasn't too hard for the kids to buy into what we wanted to do."
Reid's teams have gained a reputation with a dominating running game capable of amassing eye-popping numbers and wearing down opposing defenses. During Reid's tenure, Goldsboro has rushed for over 3,700 yards and 50-plus touchdowns each of the past three seasons. Through 14 games this year the Cougars have rushed for 4,438 yards and found the end zone 56 times.
Juniors Andre Montgomery (1,974 yards, 22 touchdowns) and Freddie Jones (1,405, 20 TDs) currently lead the Goldsboro ground attack. Reid has seen the benefits of bringing his prized tailbacks along slowly rather than tossing them into the fire early.
"When I took over my first year, we lost a lot of seniors and I knew we were going to do a lot of growing," said Reid. "I think a lot of people thought I was going to throw Freddie and Andre as freshmen into the fire on varsity. I wanted them to mature."
Reid credits his coaching staff as playing a large role in the program's quick turnaround. Offensive coordinator Danny Merritt has engineered an offense that has scored 33 points a game, while Ronnie McClary and Grant Thomas have helped nurture along young offensive and defensive lines.
Defensive coordinator Charles Lane, in his second tour of duty with the program, has seen his unit rebound from giving up 40-plus points in two of its first four games. The Cougars haven't allowed more than 13 points an outing in their last seven contests.
Hungry to grow as a coach, Reid acknowledges his room for improvement not only as it pertains to X's and O's, but as a promoter of the program within the community. Establishing a stronger fan base and sense of pride associated with the program are things he hopes to build on.
While coaches are ultimately judged by wins, losses and championships, Merritt sees Reid's growth as a person and his devotion toward doing things with class as his true sign of maturation.
"He's grown tremendously," said Merritt. "The best example I can give you is he's a man of integrity. He quick-kicked on first down in the second half against Spring Creek this year because he's not going to embarrass anybody.
"He does things in a classy way and if he messes up, he's not afraid to be the fall guy. He shows his character in times of adversity and teaches kids that football translates over into life."
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