09/16/11 — Cougars, Saints trading a little 'smack' off the field

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Cougars, Saints trading a little 'smack' off the field

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on September 16, 2011 1:49 PM

Eric Reid knows how big Goldsboro High School's football game against Southern Wayne is on Friday night.

It's been the subject of banter across Wayne County all week.

"People are talking about this game," Reid said after practice on Wednesday. "My guys have heard it and it's kind of taken on a life of its own around here."

The Saints are 3-0 on the season and have built a reputation on strong defensive play and ball-control offense. The Cougars are 2-1 overall and have gotten on the right track over the past two weeks where they have racked up 89 total points against county rivals Eastern Wayne and C.B. Aycock.

A big part of the Cougars' offensive outburst has been the maturation of senior quarterback Julius Murphy. Against the Golden Falcons last week, Murphy put the ball in the air 20 times and passed for 122 yards and one touchdown.

Murphy knows that a similar effort, or better, will be needed to beat the Saints.

"There is pressure on me because it's such a big game," Murphy said. "It's kind of a personal thing because they beat us last year and all the guys know that (Southern Wayne) is undefeated."

The Cougars' backs and receivers have been working hard to make up for one big absence. Devante Harris, the team's leading rusher, was ejected from the Aycock game and is suspended for Friday's contest.

Harris leads Goldsboro with 317 yards and five touchdowns this season. Jalen Sprueil, Karon Alston and Asunji Maddox will fill Harris' role.

Murphy is confident in whoever Reid decides to put in the backfield.

"We have a lot of talented guys," Murphy said. "I think (Jalen Sprueil) really wants to prove that he can be a starting back and I think he's ready to step in and take the ball."

Being able to run the ball between the tackles will be a key factor in opening things up for Murphy in the passing game. Having shown the ability to throw the ball deep in rhythm and mark intermediate routes over the middle, Murphy will be saddled with the task of keeping the Saints' defense honest.

"We have the ability to be multi-dimensional and we have to be able to use it," Reid said. "I think that makes this team harder to prepare for than we have been in the past. We have confidence in Julius and he has had a good week of practice for us."

Southern Wayne enjoyed a bye last week and Goldsboro reported no significant injuries as of Wednesday, so both teams should be fully healthy on Friday night.

Kickoff at Cougar Stadium is 7:30 p.m.