12/04/09 — 1-AA Eastern Finals: Cougars enter as the underdogs

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1-AA Eastern Finals: Cougars enter as the underdogs

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on December 4, 2009 1:46 PM

Third-year Goldsboro High head football coach Eric Reid and his team will experience a role reversal tonight at unbeaten Southwest Onslow.

The Cougars aren't the favorites despite entering the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-AA (large-school) eastern championship on the heels of several resounding victories.

"I think we are probably the underdogs at this point, but that doesn't bother us," said Reid. "They are undefeated and they have a very good football team, but we have been playing pretty well and we will be ready to play."

Goldsboro (12-2 overall) is playing its first road game of the postseason after home victories over South Robeson, Southeast Halifax and Heide Trask. Reid's team rushed for 292 yards and two touchdowns in last week's victory.

"I know that we are going to have to execute in our running game if we are going to have success," said Reid. "That starts with the line and our ability to be aggressive with our blocking."

The Cougars' backfield of Freddie Jones, Andre Montgomery and Vontarius Kornegay face a Stallions defense that has allowed just 41 points in the playoffs. Plus, Southwest is playing in its eighth regional championship and seeking its fourth trip to the state finals since 2002.

And this herd of Stallions may be Phil Padgette's best yet.

"This is the sixth time that we have hosted an east final and our guys know what we are getting into," Padgette said in a phone interview earlier this week. "We know how talented Goldsboro is and we have been really focused in practice this week."

Southwest has taken care of its three playoff opponents by a combined score of 129-41. The Stallions posted six shutouts during regular-season play.

The offense isn't bad, either.

Southwest has put up 50 points or more six times despite running a close-to-the-vest version of the wing-T. All of that offense led to several blowout wins within Coastal Plains Conference play. Even though his team was stampeding past its opponents, Padgette never let the squad take its collective eye off the prize.

"We had some very good weeks of practice and we kept getting better," said Padgette. "I think those games gave us confidence and beating some of the stronger teams that we have played in the playoffs has made us tougher."

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.