North Duplin-Weldon preview
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on November 11, 2010 1:47 PM
When North Duplin elected to abandon the spread for the triple-option early in the season, the Rebels had to hit the ground running.
Literally. An 0-4 start to the season and injuries forced head coach Hugh Martin to take his team in a different direction.
Senior quarterback Marcus Kornegay left the shotgun and moved under center. Sophomore fullback Julio Mora took on a more prominent role in the offense and the dividends were just what Martin and his staff were hoping for was the season progressed.
North Duplin has rushed for 2,873 yards -- an average of 261 per game. The Rebels have rushed for more than 100 yards in each game this season, including a combined 810 in their past two outings.
"Our offense has been productive as long as we can avoid turnovers and simple mistakes that put us behind in the play sequence," said Martin. "The offensive line is more consistent and cohesive now. The backs are more comfortable running the option part of the offense."
Mora has rushed for 350 yards and five touchdowns in the past two games. Senior tailback Devin Oliver continues to receive limited carries while recovering from an ankle injury. He rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries in the regular-season finale against Spring Creek. Oliver has 1,107 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.
North Duplin (4-7) makes its 28th postseason appearance since 1972 when it travels to Weldon (4-7) in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A Mideast Region playoffs. The Rebels are making their 10th consecutive trip to the postseason, and haven't lost a first-round playoff game since a 41-6 defeat at South Stanly in 2005.
The Chargers won three of their final five regular-season games. Like the Rebels, Weldon relies heavily on its running game. Seniors Chris Lynch, Jaquan McGee and junior Curtis Watson share the bulk of the carries. Lynch, McGee and Watson are all 6-feet-tall or shorter and none of the three weigh more than 180 pounds.
"They have a power offense," said Martin. "They're going to be running right at us. Their running backs are quick and they hit the hole hard."
North Duplin has surrendered 30 points a game this season. Opponents have eclipsed the 30-point mark on the Rebels on four occasions. Goldsboro rushed for 489 yards against North Duplin in early October.
Martin knows keeping the Weldon offense off the field by avoiding turnovers and wrapping up Chargers' ball carriers is going to be critical.
"We need to tackle better and read our defensive keys more consistently," said Martin. "Turnovers and tackling are two of my biggest concerns."