11/02/12 — Princeton, Rosewood face familiar foes in first-round playoff games

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Princeton, Rosewood face familiar foes in first-round playoff games

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 2, 2012 1:48 PM

Second chances don't come along very often, particularly in sports. Carolina Conference archrivals Princeton and Rosewood seek redemption during their respective opening-round games tonight in the 2012 N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A (small-school) football playoffs.

Princeton (2-8 overall) travels to North Duplin, which rolled to a 41-20 win in their previous meeting less than two months ago. Rosewood (3-7) is the guest of Lejeune, which ran roughshod over the Eagles behind Jamaz Richardson in early September.

"The kids want a second shot, they feel they didn't perform up to their level the first time against North Duplin," first-year PHS coach Derrick Minor said. "When you get a second chance, you want to make the most of it."

The Rebels have prevailed in 12 of 13 meetings against the Bulldogs since 2001. It's the second postseason contest between the league rivals since 2007 when North Duplin finished state runner-up to Plymouth.

Princeton concluded regular-season play with a triple-overtime loss against Rosewood just one week ago. The Dogs were held to five yards of total offense through three periods, but exploded for 41 points in the fourth quarter and three OT sessions combined.

"Regardless of the loss Friday, the fourth quarter and overtime really showed how much fight we have in us and the potential," Minor said. "I told the boys now you wipe out the records and everybody starts over.

"There's a renewed energy about them."

Sophomore Johnny Frasier leads the Bulldogs with 1,233 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns this season. Frasier rushed for one touchdown and caught a scoring pass from quarterback Michael Wooten, who is reaching the 700-yard mark.

Jamaal Allen is the Dogs' top receiver with 246 yards and one touchdown. Allen's 91-yard punt return and Dillon Pace's subsequent two-point conversion forced overtime against Rosewood.

Cody Garner leads the defense with 62 stops.

Rosewood head coach Robert Britt and his staff found a successful formula against Princeton. Ball possession and solid defensive play prevented the Bulldogs from sustaining offensive drives through the first three quarters.

The Eagles plan to use that same strategy, with a wrinkle or two thrown in, against Richardson. The crafty ball carrier topped the 2,000-yard mark with a 196-yard effort last week against Coastal Plains rival Dixon.

"(Richardson) is a really good running back, and in the second half he ran up and down the field against us," Britt said. "We have do a better job of containing him. He does a good job of eluding tacklers, making skip cuts. One missed tackle and he's running down the field by himself."

Meanwhile, Rosewood's backfield is starting to show maturity and it will welcome back leading rusher Josh Davis, who served a one-game suspension last week. Spencer Garrison handled the offensive duties in Davis' absence and rushed for a career highs in yards (211) and touchdowns (four).

The Eagles' first two scoring drives covered 80 and 85 yards, respectively. They erased more than 12 minutes off the clock during those two possessions.

"We're going to have to grind it out again," Britt said. "Our possessions need to be longer than theirs. We need to hold them to as little explosive plays as possible like we did against Princeton."

Lejeune is 7-3 against Carolina Conference teams since 2004.