11/19/10 — Reid, Avent Jr: Ball control key for respective teams

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Reid, Avent Jr: Ball control key for respective teams

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on November 19, 2010 1:50 PM

Staying on schedule is not just a time-management principle when perennial football powers Goldsboro and James Kenan clash Friday evening.

It's the key to each team's success.

Goldsboro head coach Eric Reid and James Kenan head coach Ken Avent Jr. kept referring to the theory when discussing their second-round contest in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-AA Mideast Regional playoffs.

The Cougars' run-oriented offense wants to gain large chunks of yards on first and second down, and avoid third-and-long situations. Goldsboro (9-3 overall) also hopes to pass just enough to keep Kenan's defense honest.

"It's very important," said Reid. "The further you get in the playoffs, you can't win a state championship being one dimensional. That's something we've worked on the past two weeks is passing more and we'll keep focusing on that as we keep going."

Meanwhile, the Tigers (7-5) want to create big plays in the passing game and slow down the Cougars' vaunted running attack enough to get their defense off the field.

"First down is a big down," said Avent. "You've got to try to gain yards offensively, or stop people and set up second and third downs where you can convert or get your defense off the field."

Goldsboro tailback Andre Montgomery missed last week's win over Midway with an ankle injury and flu-like symptoms. Montgomery is expected to play against the Tigers. He and fellow senior running back Freddie Jones have combined to rush for 3,270 yards and 47 touchdowns this season.

A large part of the offensive responsibility could fall on the shoulders of senior quarterback Corteiz Sprangle. If Kenan loads the box to slow down Montgomery and Jones, Sprangle may be asked to make plays with his arm. He's thrown for 672 yards this season with four touchdowns and two interceptions while completing nearly 50 percent of his passes.

"Corteiz is a very confident young man," said Reid. "We have confidence in him. We've put him in situations mentally throughout the course of the season to go make plays. We've started to come out in the past few weeks with more things that make us less predictable."

Dual-threat quarterback Parker Jones has led the Tigers' balanced offense to the tune of 32 points a game. Jones has rushed for more than 600 yards and 17 touchdowns. The junior has passed for more than 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Senior wide receiver James Owens (6-foot-4, 210-pounds) has been Jones' go-to receiver. Owens has caught 54 passes for an area-leading 924 yards and seven touchdowns. He's eclipsed 150 yards receiving three times this season, including two 200-plus yard receiving games.

In the run-heavy Carolina 1-A Conference, Goldsboro's secondary hasn't been tested since it faced New Hanover and Eastern Wayne during the non-conference portion of the schedule. In the season opener, New Hanover quarterback Taylor Bates torched the Cougars for 266 yards through the air and two touchdowns. The following week, Eastern Wayne's Avner Clark threw for 163 yards and a score.

"We've been throwing the ball well," said Avent. "For us to be successful we have to throw the ball well and be able to move it consistently. We're going to have to get something else going good to go with it."

James Kenan is in the postseason for the 21st time in school history and is 12-3 in the playoffs since 2006. Goldsboro is in the postseason for the 18th time in program history. The Cougars are 6-3 in the playoffs since Reid became head coach in 2007.