08/23/12 — Rebels prefer to run, run, run the ball

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Rebels prefer to run, run, run the ball

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on August 23, 2012 1:48 PM

Teams all over the country at every level of football are spreading out and throwing the ball all over the field these days.

It's a trend that has taken every offensive coach from Pop Warner to the NFL by storm.

Except for Hugh Martin.

The head coach at North Duplin is not interested in putting up video game statistics or leading the area in passing or receiving. Martin's focus is on efficiency and effectiveness.

"We have had games in the past where we threw the ball 40 times," Martin said. "But when we switched to this option offense before last season we really wanted to make the focus on ball security and clock management."

In their opening-week victory over Chocowinity Southside, the Rebels put 48 points on the board on seven rushing touchdowns. Four backs combined for exactly 400 yards of offense -- all on the ground.

Quarterback Tyler Royal led the way with 255 yards on 22 carries. Royal reached the end zone four times.

"Tyler made good decisions throughout the game," Martin said. "When the play starts, it is his call on the read. It just so happened that Friday night he called his own number at the right times and that led to some long breakaway runs."

Royal's speed was offset by senior fullback Julio Mora's ability to convert short-yardage plays and sustain drives. Mora finished with 113 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns.

"Julio is a big powerful runner and he is a big part of this offense," Martin said. "Not only does he run hard and finish his runs with power, he also carries out his fakes well and he is an excellent blocker."

The Rebels' week-one rushing showcase was the new norm in Calypso. Over the past 12 games, dating back to the 2011 season opener, the team has a 7-5 overall record and has built that resume while completing just two total passes.

Martin insists that those meager aerial statistics are not a reflection of the team's inability to pass, but are the product of effective game management and strong offensive line play.

"Our line has been able to get great push off the ball and they have executed their blocks well," Martin said. "We have been able to move the ball without being in a position to throw. There are times when we want to open up the play action, but if it isn't necessary then there is no reason to put the ball in the air."

Getting ahead on the scoreboard and not turning the ball over have also helped the Rebels win close games over the past two seasons.

"Obviously, when you are trying to keep drives going, it puts emphasis on not committing penalties and holding on to the ball," Martin said. "There is no room for a bunch of mistakes in our offense, but I think you can say that about any formation or scheme."

North Duplin takes its ground game to Lakewood on Friday night. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.