FOOTBALL TAB -- Eagles look to build on late-season surge from 2012
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on August 22, 2013 1:47 PM
The story at most preseason high school football practices is pretty much the same from year to year.
Coaches talk about finding players to fill spots on the offensive and defensive lines. They go on at length about their team's need to develop consistency and play complete games.
The story often ends with a very modest prediction about their squad's ability to compete with the teams on their respective schedule.
That is what makes Rosewood head coach Robert Britt's preseason so unique in 2013.
The Eagles are coming off a strong campaign in 2012 and hope that the momentum carries over when the team hits the field for the first time Friday evening. An excellent summer and better-than-expected fall camp have the Rosewood coaching staff excited about the prospects of this season.
"I think making the third round of the playoffs last season has put a little pep in everybody's step," Britt said. "The kids are excited and I think the coaches are just as excited to see what we are capable of."
The Eagles moved the ball efficiently and found the end zone during each of their red zone trips during a preseason scrimmage against Dixon. Having a good mix of playmakers and buffet busters has proved beneficial.
Quarterback Jacob Sasser is back for his senior season and has made strides in the passing game and improved his ability to run the offense. Sasser completed 45 of 85 passes as a junior for 651 yards and six touchdowns.
Britt sees an expanded role for Sasser this season.
"Jacob has looked pretty good for us in practice," Britt said. "He threw two touchdown passes during our scrimmage and he kept the offense moving forward which is all you can ask for the first time at game speed."
Sasser has one of his top weapons -- Jamari McGown -- back in the fold. McGown emerged as the Eagles' leader in total yards a year ago and will likely see more touches as a senior. McGown finished last season with 268 receiving yards and three touchdowns to go along with 597 rushing yards and six scores.
The departure of leading rusher Josh Davis due to graduation will undoubtedly add to McGown's workload.
"Jamari is a guy that is going to be on the field pretty much all the time," Britt said. "He is going to play on special teams and defense too, but we will have to find him some breaks on the defensive side eventually because he is going to play pretty much every down on offense."
Rosewood has the benefit of size up front to keep opposing defensive linemen at bay. The Eagles' offensive line lost a pair of players to the college ranks after last season when Jacob Guthrie signed with Campbell and Josh Clark committed to Berry College.
The returning players boast both size and experience. Brent Breedlove and Tyree Chavious will likely man two of the line spots on both sides of the football.
"On the offensive line we go about 280, 270, 255, 215 and 205," Britt said. "Those guys need to work out some little things and get better as a unit, but they have the raw size to be successful. On defense we return four guys that all played significant snaps last season either as a starter or as a rotation player."
Rosewood gets its first look at its trench warriors at Charles B. Aycock on Friday evening. The Eagles also face Chocowinity Southside, Midway, Lejeune and South Lenoir in non-conference play.
The new-look Carolina 1-A Conference opens Sept. 27. Rosewood entertains Hobbton that night and will follow that home game with perennial powers James Kenan and Lakewood. A rematch from last year's N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A state playoffs looms on Nov. 8 when the Eagles visit archrival Princeton.
"When you look at our schedule, we play a lot of teams that are bigger as far as classification," Britt said. "Whether it's a 3-A team like C.B. Aycock, a 2-A like South Lenoir or a big 1-AA like James Kenan we have some stiff tests."
Britt hopes those tests will pay off with a passing grade in the playoffs.
"The good thing is that when we get to the playoffs we are prepared for anything," Britt said. "We have been competitive in the playoffs the last few years playing in the 1-A because we gained experience against quality opponents during the year."
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