11/17/10 — Confident So. Wayne continues road swing

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Confident So. Wayne continues road swing

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on November 17, 2010 1:47 PM

Football is not usually characterized by smiling faces and hearty laughter. The Southern Wayne Saints are the exception.

Three days after pulling off a thrilling 35-19 upset over Hertford County in the opening round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs, the team showed up for practice with a new sense of enthusiasm on Monday afternoon.

Players shared laughs during blocking drills.

Coaches cracked jokes.

And there plenty of reasons for the Saints to be excited. Southern Wayne has won its last three outings and rolls into Friday night's contest at South Brunswick brimming with confidence.

"We are certainly glad to be in this position," head coach Bob Warren said. "I know there are a lot of teams that would gladly trade with us because right now they're doing equipment inventory."

The key to the Saints' late-season surge has been the offense's ability to keep the opponent's defensive unit on the field. Southern Wayne ran 61 plays in last week's win over the Bears, and held a definitive edge in time of possession.

The first step to sustaining long drives rests with the offensive line's ability to open holes for running backs Quintae Bradshaw and JaQuan Cobb in order to avoid negative plays. The second key to offensive supremacy lies with quarterback Keith Jones and his ability to complete timely passes within the wing-T formation.

"Last week we only took two penalties and we kept ourselves moving in the right direction," said Warren. "(Jones) completed four of his six passes, and really could have been five-for-six, but we had a drop in the red zone."

Looking forward to the matchup with South Brunswick, Warren and his staff know that offensive execution will be critical in order to give the defense time to rest. The Cougars employ an up-tempo offense that features play makers at quarterback, running back and receiver.

Marcus Hankins led the team from his tailback spot in a 39-7 victory over Washington in the opening round of the bracket. Hankins toted the ball 21 times for 251 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed a halfback pass for another score.

Nejuann Watts completed five passes for 40 yards for the Cougars. Cam Scott who hauled in four balls for 37 yards.

"South Brunswick is obviously a very good football team all the way around," said Warren. "They have guys at running back and receiver that create big plays, so that puts extra emphasis on our defense to contain them."

The Saints will have to endure a long bus ride on game day for the second consecutive week. The two-hour trip to Hertford County pales in comparison to the nearly three-hour trek to Southport.

"So much for the pod system cutting down on travel," said Warren with a a smile. "But trust me, we are not going to complain about the opportunity."