08/19/10 — FOOTBALL TAB -- Rosewood preview

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FOOTBALL TAB -- Rosewood preview

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on August 19, 2010 2:23 PM

There is a lot of buzz growing around the Rosewood High School football program.

And it's not just about the team's sharp new game uniforms.

A crop of 43 players will be donning the Eagles' customary purple and gold when the regular season opens Friday night. Wake Christian comes calling at Branch Pope Field, and head coach Robert Britt is excited about his fourth team at the Carolina 1-A Conference school.

"I think we have a really good mix of guys on both sides of the football," Britt said after a recent practice. "I think this year's team has a little more speed than we have seen in recent years, and hopefully we can utilize that to make ourselves more dynamic on offense."

Rosewood spent the 2009 season transitioning into the Wing-T base offense, a move that had its ups and downs over the course of the year. In their first five games of the year, the Eagles scored 13 points or less and averaged just nine points per game.

After a victory over East Carteret in late September the Eagles began to put the Wing-T together. Rosewood increased its scoring average by a full touchdown over the final six games of the season before being shutout in the opening round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A playoffs by perennial powerhouse Mount Airy.

"I think this year's team is a little quicker in the backfield and a little better suited for what we are trying to do," said Britt. "Hopefully we can get to the edge a little better than we did last year."

Anchoring the offense will be quarterback Taylor McGill.

McGill enters his junior season with a full year of varsity experience under his belt. A battle with Will Winslow during fall practice pushed both players to be better.

"Those two guys were great about competing for the quarterback job," said Britt. "They support each other and they both root for each other."

The Eagles have six returning starters on the offensive side of the ball, two less than the Eagles' defense.

Sticking with their base 4-4 scheme, the Eagles will need solid play out of a talented core of linebackers. T.J. Frost and Greg Cavenaugh will be manning the middle of the unit.

"T.J. (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) is built like a linebacker and he uses his body to his full advantage," said Britt. "Greg is kind of the opposite in that he is a little undersized, but he has the perfect mentality to play middle linebacker. He uses his leverage and he is not afraid of contact."

Winslow will man one of the outside backer positions and Wesley Simms will hold down the other outside spot.

"One thing I will say about those guys is that they are all about the program," said Britt. "Both of them work hard and they put in the time during the offseason and in the weight room."

Looking at the schedule, Britt knows that the Eagles must take care of business in week one. Wake Christian comes to town Friday evening for a rematch of a thrilling matchup in 2009 that came down to the final play. Rosewood stopped a potential game-winning two-point conversion as the fourth quarter horn sounded and walked away with a 13-12 victory.

With a matchup against county rival C.B. Aycock looming in week two, Britt realizes the importance of starting strong.

"Every team wants to go out and execute the basics and give themselves a chance to win," said Britt. "If we want to achieve our goals the kids know it begins with the first game and it builds from there."