08/22/13 — FOOTBALL TAB -- Reid looking forward to renewing old rivalries, friendships this fall

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FOOTBALL TAB -- Reid looking forward to renewing old rivalries, friendships this fall

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 22, 2013 1:47 PM


Goldsboro High head football coach Eric Reid is like a preacher after church service on Sunday morning.

He takes your hand, shakes it as he greets you warmly and asks how you are doing.

Reid plans to do a lot of hand-shaking on Friday nights this fall. As will several of his coaching brethren.

The latest realignment instituted by the N.C. High School Athletic Association went into effect in July. The geographically-compact plan gives teams a chance to renew old rivalries, rekindled old friendships and rejuvenate communities that eat, sleep and breathe football.

"I think I might be more excited than the kids," Reid said during the inaugural Eastern Carolina 2-A Conference meeting.

"Sitting here today talking with these guys from the old Eastern Plains Conference, it was like coming home again. Just to be back with these guys again, what they bring to the table from a coaching standpoint, the fact their kids are going to be ready on Friday night is something to be excited about.

"It's going to be a fun time."

The new ECC is comprised six teams from four different leagues.

Goldsboro and Ayden-Grifton knocked helmets in the Carolina 1-A Conference the last four years. Greene Central and Kinston move over from the EPC. North Lenoir departed the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference and South Lenoir left the East Central 2-A.

"(The closeness) of the conference is going to make the games more intense, more interesting for the fans to watch on Friday," first-year Greene Central head coach Allen Wooten said. "It's going to be a fun league for the next four years."

Although the realignment did draw some moans and appeals among the 397 schools in the Association, the overall consensus is officials anticipate lower financial costs. Less travel will alleviate budget constraints and fans will be more willing to drive to see rival communities play.

Defending 4-A state champion New Bern and J.H. Rose can forget about those 2 1/2- to 3-hour bus rides to Wilmington. The two former Mideastern Conference powers have been aligned into the Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference along with D.H. Conley, South Central, Charles B. Aycock, Eastern Wayne and Southern Wayne.

The split-classification league encountered some resistance, especially regarding the competitive level of the four 4-A schools against the 3-A teams.

"The challenges are the number of athletes you have out, facilities and funds when you play against the 4-A schools," first-year CBA head coach Steve Brooks said. "They obviously have more depth, might have more upgraded facilities, more funds for their programs.

"The 3As depend on size and location. In Wayne County, I feel like we're all about the same size, if not, we're relatively close. I don't see a whole lot of difference."

There could be some major disparity in the Carolina 1-A Conference.

Perennial juggernaut James Kenan, loaded with talent again this season, is expected to dominate the conference until the next realignment. The "running joke" is coaches should buy the team T-shirts that recognize the Tigers as the conference champions for the next four seasons.

Fellow former Tri-County 1-A foes Hobbton and Lakewood join the conference that includes Rosewood, Princeton, Spring Creek and non-football member Neuse Charter.