11/07/12 — Britt: Eagles finding stride

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Britt: Eagles finding stride

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on November 7, 2012 1:48 PM

One month ago Rosewood head football coach Robert Britt stood on the field at Goldsboro High School and talked about being prepared, playing with intensity and trying to maintain focus for four quarters.

Britt sounded like a coach searching for answers in an endless sea of questions. The Eagles had just dropped a 54-0 decision to the Cougars and fell to 1-6 overall in the process. Injuries were mounting and the season was beginning to look bleak for Rosewood.

The Eagles' turnaround has been drastic.

Exactly 31 days and three victories later, Britt has his team looking forward to a second-round game in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A (small-school) state playoffs. Rosewood plays host to Jones Senior on Friday night.

"I really feel like right now we are playing our best football," Britt said. "I think our guys have a new outlook on the playoffs and I think they are excited to see how far we can go."

Rosewood (4-7 overall) began to right the ship in the regular season with wins over Spring Creek and archrival Princeton in order to make the playoffs. A seemingly tough draw in the opening round of the postseason sent the Eagles to Lejeune. The Devilpups hammered Rosewood in their regular-season meeting and boasted one of the state's top rushers in wingback Jamaz Richardson.

The Eagles' defense answered Britt's call for assignment-based execution and improved tackling. Richardson was held to 130 yards on the ground and Rosewood's offense controlled the ball for much of the second half en route to a 34-20 upset victory.

"We did a much better job of just containing (Lejeune's) backs," Britt said. "In the first game Richardson had over 300 yards and he broke a bunch of long runs. The second time around we forced him to earn every yard."

Since the loss to Goldsboro, the Rosewood offense has also stepped -up its production. The Eagles have averaged 37.5 points per game over the past four contests and have shown improved balance. Fullback Spencer Garrison and halfback Josh Davis have provided the Eagles with a thunder-and-lightning mix of power and speed. The duo combined for 230 yards and four touchdowns against Lejeune.

Along with the potent running game, Rosewood has also increased the workload for junior quarterback Jacob Sasser and his receiving corps. Sasser has been efficient, passing for 307 yards and four touchdowns in the past four games. Jamari McGowan and Andrew Henn have emerged as Sasser's go-to targets during that span.

"We have been able to move the ball all season," Britt said. "But now we are moving the ball and getting points off of more drives. We can't afford to turn the ball over or commit a bunch of penalties and lately we have avoided those things."