FOOTBALL TAB -- North Duplin: Rebels battle cry for 2012 is to "finish" games
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on August 16, 2012 1:48 PM
Finish is the word that North Duplin has concluded each drill and practice with this summer. Finish is also something the Rebels failed to do with regularity in 2011.
Four of North Duplin's five losses last season came by seven points or fewer. Three of those four losses came by three points or less.
The Rebels return seven starters on each side of the ball and memories of those close losses have fueled North Duplin's offseason workouts.
"Our theme has been to finish," Rebels' head coach Hugh Martin said. "We try to have a finish point of every drill and a finish point to every practice and we hope to carry that over to the season. We have to make those plays that we did not make at the end of those losses last season make things happen for ourselves.
"These guys have a memory of that and we hope to improve on that, and figure out a way to get those one-point games on our side."
Senior quarterback Tyler Royal and senior fullback Julio Mora return to an offense that rushed for 3,680 yards and 46 touchdowns last season. North Duplin averaged 334.5 yards on the ground a year ago, but completed just two passes all season.
Gone is tailback Devin Oliver, who accounted for 1,533 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior in 2011.
The onus falls on Royal, Mora and returning receivers Daron Goodman and Tyler Thigpen. An experienced offensive line should help the Rebels develop more balance offensively.
"We have to make real good decisions with the option game and be great with ball security," Martin said. "I thought last year we improved with that. It has been amazing the difference with where Tyler (Royal) was as a sophomore, even in practice to compared to where he is this year as a senior.
"He understands everything so much better."
North Duplin must replace its leading tackler, linebacker David Vazquez -- from last season. Vazquez tallied 126 total tackles in 2011 and also gone is the Rebels' third-leading tackler, Josh Hill.
Sophomore Kaleb Brock has caught Martin's eye at linebacker alongside Mora this summer. Royal and Goodman should provide experience in the secondary in hopes of decreasing the 21 points per game opponents averaged last year.
"Defense comes down to hitting and tackling, and running to the ball," Martin said. "If you control those things you usually play pretty good defense. I thought sometimes last year we did not tackle well and we did not get off blocks as well as we needed to.
"Hopefully those are things we can improve on this season."
North Duplin opens its season Friday at home against Chocowinity Southside.
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