10/31/12 — 'Happy to be here' mentality not for Eastern Wayne

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'Happy to be here' mentality not for Eastern Wayne

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on October 31, 2012 1:49 PM

Forget the pleasantries because Eastern Wayne head coach Bubba Williams insists that his team is not just happy to be in the postseason.

The Warriors open play in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A (small-school) playoffs at Hillsborough Orange on Friday evening. Despite being the number seven seed in the Mideast Regional, Williams expects his team to play with a winning mentality.

"If we let the moment get too big for us then we are in trouble," Williams said. "I think our guys are going to come out with every intention of playing physical football and hopefully we can make the plays we need defensively to win the game."

The Warriors' season has been full of twists and turns.

The year started with back-to-back blowout losses to Wilson Hunt and Goldsboro, but quickly turned around with two impressive wins over South Lenoir and Greene Central.

Eastern Wayne opened Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference play with a pair of losses before beating Southern Wayne.

Two more losses led up to the team's pivotal game last Friday night at North Lenoir. Eastern Wayne pitched a shutout on defense and ended up 4-6 overall. A fifth-place fifth in the conference meant that there was no guarantee regarding the postseason.

The Warriors found out their fate Saturday afternoon.

"We were pretty confident that going into the last regular-season game that four wins would get in," Williams said. "We got the fourth win last week and we played pretty well, so we are looking forward to the opportunity we have."

As wild as Eastern Wayne's season has been, Orange's year has been quite consistent.

The second-seeded Panthers (8-2) boast one of the region's best offenses. Orange is averaging 31.6 points per game on the strength of a balanced attack directed by quarterback Sean Motley. In last week's win over Chapel Hill, Motley completed 13 passes for 186 yards and four touchdowns.

Patrick Pettiford has become the Panthers' showcase running back throughout the season. Pettiford rolled to 163 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries against Chapel Hill.

"Orange is a quality team, but they are not going to fool anybody," Williams said. "They like to run isolation plays for their backs and then pass off of play action. They don't do anything that our guys have not seen before."

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.