08/22/11 — FOOTBALL TAB -- Cougars lose bulk, reload with speed

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FOOTBALL TAB -- Cougars lose bulk, reload with speed

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 22, 2011 1:47 PM

Those bulky, bruising backs who bull-dozed through opposing defensive lines like a bowling ball knocking down pins in an alley have finally -- thank goodness -- graduated from "Running Back High."

Opposing coaches shouldn't celebrate yet. There are capable replacements.

Goldsboro High has supplanted those physical rushers with speedier carriers this season. Slender, sleeker players who can find the tiniest seam of light are expected to continue the program's stout ground tradition that has sent defensive coordinators to their local pharmacy on Saturday morning to buy Bayer aspirin.

"We have changed our offensive set a little bit to suit our speed," said Reid, whose career record is 40-14-1 at his alma mater. "It's going to be interesting. Any time you do something new, you are going to have your wrinkles. (The) main goal is to keep the kids' attitude positive.

"The holes haven't been opening like they thought they would (in practice), blocks aren't precise, but we're happy with the overall feel we have going on."

Returning starter Karon Alston, Asunji Maddox, Rakim Floyd, Ricardo Woodard and transfer Devante Harris have taken the snaps during preseason drills. Harris sat out last season, got himself back on track academically and has adapted to the system.

"He has been a surprise addition because we weren't expecting him to play," said Reid.

A power-running program that's traditionally relied on misdirection behind big blockers, Goldsboro will line up in either the I or split-back formations ... maybe even a single back.

The strategy will allow Reid to expose the team's speed out in open spaces instead of trying to find running room in the middle, which usually gets clogged up.

Julius Murphy, one of six returners on offense, and Shawn Ham continue to be a work in progress at quarterback. Neither has stepped into a starting role and Reid said he's looking for the best young man who can step in, make plays and lead by example.

Also back on offense are Brandon McKinney, Rodney Cook and Andre Lemoy.

Reid hopes defense is the Cougars' strong suit this season. Goldsboro posted three shutouts and held three other opponents to a single touchdown or less last season.

"Defensively, we're loaded from a skill position and we're going to focus on that," said Reid. "I hope that will be the mainstay for us this season. Once you lose that many seniors, I wouldn't say it's been hard, but it's been a nice challenge to bring younger guys up to speed."

The Cougars' line will take care of gap control and try to free up linebackers, who can roam freely in the open field. Maddux, Dwight Cannon and returning starter Adrian Super, who played behind Andre Montgomery and Freddie Jones last fall, will handle the linebacking chores.

Alston and Cook will play the corners, with Floyd at safety.

"The premise is going to be on everyone doing their job," said Reid. "We talked about it at camp and throughout preseason practice. Trust that the man beside you is going to do his job. If he doesn't do his job, then that throws everything off you're trying to accomplish defensively."