11/09/11 — No. 2-ranked Albemarle presents stern test

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No. 2-ranked Albemarle presents stern test

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 9, 2011 1:48 PM

Princeton got a dose of playoff adversity last week with strong winds and heavy rains, and a game that spanned two days in its 21-16 win at Union.

The challenge gets ratcheted up several levels this week when the Bulldogs visit No. 2-ranked Albemarle in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A (small school) state playoffs.

Albemarle (11-1 overall) has won 11 consecutive games, averages 36 points a contest, rushed for 250 yards a game and allowed opponents just five points a game. Senior tailback Daquan Ellis has rushed for a team-leading 1,597 yards and 24 touchdowns.

Albemarle has won five state championships in the past 11 years.

Despite his opponent's staggering resume, Princeton head coach Russell Williamson knows the key to success is his team focusing on what it does best. The Bulldogs (4-7) held Union to 158 yards of total offense, and came up with a key goal line stand late in the first half.

Sustaining drives that take time off the clock and keeping Albemarle's offense off the field is critical for Princeton. Senior tailback Javontae Davis led the Bulldogs with 126 yards on 22 carries against Union.

Offensively, Princeton has averaged nearly 23 points a game this season. Williamson's team has rushed for more than 158 yards a game and passed for more than 142 yards a contest. During their last four games, the Bulldogs have averaged just fewer than 12 points.

"I think we have to worry about us, and do what we do best and focus on what we can control," Williamson said. "We have to try to maintain the ball as much as we can and keep the ball out of their hands. We had a big defensive stand in the first half at Dixon and I think we gained some confidence from that."

Albemarle has rushed for more than 200 yards in eight of its 12 games this season and has a total of 48 rushing touchdowns. Playing in the run-heavy Carolina 1-A Conference, Princeton has faced several opponents that rely heavily on their ground attack.

North Duplin, Rosewood, Goldsboro and Ayden-Grifton have each compiled 1,780 or more rushing yards this year.

"We feel like its going to be pretty comparable to Goldsboro and Ayden," Williamson said. "We hope playing those games and seeing those style of runners will help us on Friday night."