08/01/12 — Cougars getting adjusted to new coaches

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Cougars getting adjusted to new coaches

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 1, 2012 1:49 PM

The first two days of practice at Goldsboro High have included fine-tuning some things learned during the offseason, but the players are also learning a few new faces.

The Cougars' coaching staff has changed.

Fifth-year head coach Eric Reid has turned the offensive line duties over to Wake Forest alum Jesse Pittard, who served as athletics director and head football coach at Frink Middle School in Lenoir County. Bennett Johnson, a record-setting quarterback who graduated from Beddingfield High School, is handling the offensive coordinator's job.

And Goldsboro alum Jacob Sykes, who played at Virginia Tech and UNC Pembroke, is the new defensive backs and receivers coach.

"I heard about Coach Johnson through some coaching friends and we met one day to talk football," Reid said. "I immediately liked him and found a way to get him here. He has really worked well with the kids and they've picked up on the offense, are doing well with it.

"It's good to get Jacob back because so many times kids don't want to come back home. But he loves Goldsboro High and football, and it's a blessing and joy to have him out there. It makes me feel old."

Mike Harper returns as defensive coordinator. Charles Lane and George Franklin are also back, and Reid hopes the duo will share its vast knowledge with the newcomers.

Tavarus Oates is the new head JV coach and takes over for Danny Merritt, who is now on the Eastern Wayne staff. Oates and his staff have been giddy with the preseason turnout of 30 players -- the most since Reid took over as head coach five years ago.

More than 60 players have attended the first two practices, which have lasted two-plus hours in surprisingly pleasant temperatures. Players are permitted to work out in just T-shirts, shorts, helmets and cleats the first three days. Body-to-body contact drills can begin Thursday.

Reid said most of the players reported to camp in good shape.

"Sixty-five to 70 percent of the kids participated in the voluntary summer workouts at some point in time, some more consistently than others," Reid said. "Getting that important cardio and weight training in has helped our overall conditioning the past two days, I think. It wasn't blistering hot, either, so we got some quality work in and it's good that we weren't bothered with the heat.

"I've got some good leadership this year and I mean leading by example. That junior class that is now seniors will determine how far we can go."

Goldsboro finished 7-5 last season and lost to perennial power Wallace-Rose Hill in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A (small-school) playoffs.