08/16/12 — FOOTBALL TAB -- Rosewood: Eagles solid on offense, rebuilding defense

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FOOTBALL TAB -- Rosewood: Eagles solid on offense, rebuilding defense

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on August 16, 2012 1:48 PM

Robert Britt has learned plenty about his football team this offseason and he's discovered that "the unknown" is causing him a few concerns.

The Eagles lost seven starters defensively from last season and Britt is relying on a mix of seasoned veterans and unproven, but promising underclassmen to fill the void.

Seniors Jacob Guthrie and Josh Clark return along the defensive line. Linebacker Tevin Hines and safety Josh Davis also bring experience to the defense. Kevondre Kornegay and Jordan Lynn have been handed the task of replacing Shane Whitley and Corey Dickerson at cornerback.

"We have a lot of holes to fill and a lot of new bodies on the defensive side," Britt said. "That is where our learning curve is going to be. By the time we get into conference play they will have five games under their belt and they will be counted on to make plays."

Taking pressure off the defense by moving the chains, controlling the clock and finishing drives is the responsibility of new quarterback Jacob Sasser and the Rosewood offense. The Eagles transitioned to the shotgun in the offseason and Sasser's mobility adds an extra threat defenses must account for.

Jamari McGowan, a tailback who rushed for over 700 yards in 2011, and Davis should split the majority of the carries in the backfield. Offensive linemen Guthrie, Clark, Andrew Henn and Fouad Ismail will need to open up holes with regularity in order for Rosewood to stay on the field and score points offensively.

"Jacob's job is to get everyone in the right place and to make simple decisions in the passing game," Britt said. "One of our goals is to chew up some clock and keep the ball several minutes at a time. Early in the season, if the offense came move the chains and flip the field position, that is going to help out our young defense.

"We are really counting on our offensive line to open up some holes for us."

The Eagles exceeded the 21-point mark just twice last season and finished the year 4-7 overall. Rosewood averaged 6.4 points per game during Carolina 1-A Conference play and those offensive woes were reflected in a 1-4 record. Struggling to put points on the scoreboard again this year could put added strain on an inexperienced defense.

"The games last year where we did no do well, I contribute that mainly to our offense," Britt said. "If we are able to put at least three scores on the board we will have a chance to win. What is going to be hard is if our offense goes three-and-out several times.

"Then we are putting a lot of pressure on our young defense."

The Eagles open their season Friday at home against county rival Charles B. Aycock.