08/19/10 — FOOTBALL TAB -- Greene Central preview

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FOOTBALL TAB -- Greene Central preview

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on August 19, 2010 2:23 PM

The line between finishing a football season 9-2 as opposed to 3-8 can be fine, often painful and incredibly motivating.

Six of Greene Central's eight losses during the 2009 campaign came by 15 points or fewer. Red zone turnovers, costly penalties and mistakes by veterans counted on to set an example hampered the Rams a year ago.

Third-year head coach Ken Grantham knows his team is knocking on the door of turning the corner. He is anticipating younger players with more varsity experience than some of his so-called leaders from last season to eliminate the blunders that caused victory to be so elusive in 2009.

"I really think we had some seniors last year that really weren't very experienced as seniors," said Grantham. "Even though we may be younger on the field this year, we'll have more experience. I'm hoping that will parlay into making those plays in the red zone that we didn't make last year."

Senior quarterback Brandon Suit returns to guide Grantham's triple-option offense. Suit has matured in an offense predicated on timing and making reads, and he's continued to grow as a leader.

"He started halfway though his sophomore year, so he's got a full year and a half under his belt," said Grantham. "The leadership that he brings is what separates him from the rest of the pack more than his athleticism."

Fellow senior Kelsey Dixon, and sophomores Rashad Yelverton and Kenzie Phillips should juggle the carries in the backfield.

Rebuilding an inexperienced offensive line and improving a running game that collectively failed to crack the 2,000-yard plateau last season is a concern for Grantham.

"I really think the kids believe in what they're doing," said Grantham. "They believe they can run the ball and they believe there are big plays out there to be had."

Greene Central's opportunistic 3-5-3 defense kept the Rams in plenty of games a year ago, yielding 21 points or fewer seven times. Defensive coordinator Andrea Quinerly saw his unit intercept six passes and recover four fumbles.

A three-turnover effort highlighted by Eric Campbell's game-winning 46-yard interception return for a touchdown keyed a 27-26 comeback win over North Pitt.

Quinerly has to revamp a linebacking corps plagued by graduation as Campbell, Aaron Harper, T.J. McPhail and Jon Nethercutt are all gone.

"I think Coach Q has done a tremendous job," said Grantham. "They're going to have a lot of kids flying around and making big plays. Knowing that, hopefully we can become more efficient on offense and we won't have to rely on them so much."

The Rams open their season Friday at South Central. Kick-off is 7:30 p.m.