Southern Wayne-Triton set for gridiron showdown
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on September 22, 2011 1:48 PM
Triton head coach Joe McCullen predicted Southern Wayne would be a "sleeper" team during the preseason Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference football rouser in August.
So far, he's right. McCullen gets an up-close view of the Saints when the two teams meet Friday in Erwin.
The Hawks shared the ECC championship with Eastern Wayne a year ago and were picked to win the title again this season by the league's coaches. Triton defeated Southern Wayne 41-7 in Dudley last year.
Behind a dominating offensive line, the Hawks' Wing-T offense racked up 410 rushing yards in a 49-0 win at ECC opponent Charles B. Aycock last week. Running backs Dedrick Stacker and Kendrick Harris combined for 280 of those yards to go with four touchdowns on just nine carries. Triton had touchdown runs of 65, 35, 84 and 52 yards.
The Hawks have rushed for 1,898 yards and 20 touchdowns in five games this season. Stacker has accounted for 739 of those yards and 10 touchdowns.
The Saints also run the Wing-T offense and Lee views the preparation for an opponent that runs a similar offensive scheme as a time to focus on tackling in space and making sure defenders know their assignments. Southern Wayne held Goldsboro to 28 yards rushing on 18 carries last week.
"The advantages of playing a team that also runs the Wing-T is the film preparation and scout offense takes less time to organize since we are already familiar with most of their plays," said Lee. "The key to limiting Triton's rushing yards will be downhill tackling by our linebackers and our secondary. Triton is a very physical team with above average athletes at the skill positions.
"We cannot miss tackles and must get everyone to the football."
The Saints turned in several big plays of their own during their win at Goldsboro last week. Tailback Jamie Dove had a 55-yard run that set up a touchdown and his 80-yard touchdown run in the third quarter helped break the game open. Tyshawn Vann added a 47-yard carry.
Southern Wayne finished with 351 rushing yards, and had eight plays that went for 10 or more yards.
The Wing-T is not an offense designed to convert numerous third-and-long situations throughout the course of a ballgame. Lee knows the team that can keep the chains moving on Friday night and stay out of third downs is most likely to walk away with a victory.
"We know that our offense is not designed for third-and-long situations, which is why it is important to be successful on first down," said Lee. "We need to avoid penalties that put us in second or third-and-long situations. At the same time, if we can force Triton into third-and-long situations, then that limits the plays they can call to try and pick up the first down."
Southern Wayne picked off Goldsboro quarterback Julius Murphy four times and also recovered a fumble. With rain in the forecast again this Friday, turnovers and dealing with a wet football could play a major role in this ECC showdown.
"We definitely cannot turn the ball over and expect to be successful," said Lee. "We need to take care of the ball and try to limit the number of possessions that Triton's offense will have. They have excellent athletes at the skill positions that are always one missed tackle away from going the distance."