Rosewood and Princeton have plenty to play for
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on October 25, 2012 1:48 PM
Win and you earn a coveted state playoff berth.
Lose and your season is likely over.
Oh, and there's also valuable bragging rights at stake.
When Rosewood visits Princeton on Friday night there will be no shortage of motivation as the Eagles and Bulldogs renew their rivalry.
Both teams are 2-7 and have matching 1-3 records in Carolina 1-A Conference play. A win on Friday night locks up fourth-place in the league and a state playoff berth. The loser is left in wait-and-see mode until the state playoff pairings are released on Saturday afternoon. Rosewood has dominated the series since 2004 winning six of the last eight meetings, including each of the last two.
"We've told our kids that this is essentially a playoff game," first-year Princeton head coach Derrick Minor said. "There is the rivalry and all that stuff but we need to get a win so they can keep playing. The seniors are coming to the reality that their season is almost over. If we win we're in, if we don't we have to wait and see and nobody wants that."
The Eagles found plenty of positives after overcoming an early 14-0 deficit in a 42-41 overtime loss to North Duplin last week. Spencer Garrison stepped up at tailback and rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns once Joshua Davis was ejected. Junior quarterback Jacob Sasser had his best game in an Eagles' uniform throwing for 143 yards and three touchdowns. Due to his ejection against the Rebels, NCHSAA rules stat the Davis must sit out two games, meaning he would not be eligible to return until a potential second-round playoff game.
"Spencer is a hard runner and he really stepped up after we lost Josh," Rosewood head coach Robert Britt said. "Jacob really threw the ball well against North Duplin and we were able to attack all areas of the field. We hope we can do that again this week. With Josh being down, we've made it a point of emphasis in practice this week that we're playing for a fallen brother."
Princeton has been haunted by turnovers during its current three-game losing streak. The Bulldogs mustered just 15 yards of offense in a 42-7 loss at Ayden-Grifton last week. The Bulldogs held their own throughout the first half of a 56-16 loss to Goldsboro two weeks ago. Princeton led 6-0 after the first quarter and trailed just 14-9 at halftime. Quarterback Michael Wooten threw for 114 yards and a touchdown against the Cougars but threw two costly interceptions. Tailback Johnny Frazier added 101 yards on the ground. Princeton also enters Friday's matchup looking to end its five-game skid at home this season.
"Honestly, the last few weeks I thought compared to the competition we've played, we've actually done pretty well," Minor said. "We just can't turn the ball over and we have to execute. A win this week would be huge and it would give these young guys a taste of the playoffs and it would give us some momentum going into the offseason."