08/22/11 — FOOTBALL TAB - Big, physical Rams ready to produce

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FOOTBALL TAB - Big, physical Rams ready to produce

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on August 22, 2011 1:47 PM

Experience and dedication are two of the positive traits that head coach Ken Grantham sees in his Greene Central High School football team heading into the 2011 season.

The Rams return a core of talented players at the skill positions and have dedicated their summer workouts to getting better as a group instead of as individuals.

"I really like the seniors that we have this year because they have provided leadership for the younger guys all year," Grantham said. "Our workouts have been hard, but I feel like we have gotten stronger and we have definitely gotten in better shape as far as conditioning."

The improved fitness should help the Rams' mammoth offensive line execute Grantham's blocking schemes in the triple-option offense. Being able to move the chains on the ground out of the "pistol" set will help the Rams win the time of possession battle, and keep the defense rested on the sidelines.

The Rams average 285 pounds across the offensive line.

"We have the size, there is no question about that," Grantham said. "The difference this year is that I feel like we also have the athleticism in our offensive line to move people around."

Senior standout Freddy Presley will anchor the unit up front. The 6-foot-5, 290-pounder is Grantham's most athletic cog in his offensive machine. Presley will be charged with opening holes for quarterback Rasheem Shackleford and running backs Rashad Yelverton and Kensie Phillips, all of whom are entering their senior season.

When the Rams put the ball in the air, senior wideouts Brandon Bishop and Jerel Stevens will likely be the targets.

"Shackleford has really worked hard for us on becoming a capable passer," Grantham said. "He can throw the ball down field and I know that he is ready to get started."

Grantham will employ his base 40 front on defense with several different combinations of linebackers and defensive backs. Being able to create big plays on defense is a priority for the Rams as they prepare for some of the elite offenses in the Eastern Plains 2-A Conference.

"Any team that want to win in our league has to limit turnovers and get defensive stops," Grantham said. "It really is that simple. Control the ball and keep the defense fresh ... those are two of the biggest keys to competing in every ball game no matter who the opponent is."

Staring down the barrel of a schedule that includes powerhouses Tarboro, Kinston and SouthWest Edgecombe is something that the Rams have done the past two seasons with limited success.

"Really for us the non-conference part of the schedule is pretty much meaningless," Grantham said. "Obviously you want to win all of those ballgames and come out 6-0, but at the same time I have seen teams do that and get to league play and fall apart."

Greene Central opens the season Friday at border rival North Lenoir.