Next two non-conference games will test Cougars' mettle
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 27, 2013 1:48 PM
The ship hasn't fallen apart.
Goldsboro High head football coach Eric Reid hopes it continues to stay afloat with two "measuring stick" games remaining before Eastern Carolina 2-A Conference play begins the second week of October.
Jacksonville Northside invades Cougar Stadium tonight.
The Cougars (2-2 overall) are the guests of perennial powerhouse Scotland County, the state's No. 1-ranked 4-A team, next week.
"Oh man, both of these games are going to mean lot from a maturity standpoint and will help us going into the conference," Reid said. "We'll be seeing established programs, which could be confidence builders if we can compete with those programs. Scotland County has done things the right way and will be a blueprint of what we're trying to establish here at Goldsboro.
Goldsboro started the season 0-2, defeated county foe Southern Wayne and escaped a possible third loss with two momentum-changing plays against Charles B. Aycock. A kickoff return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery that led to another score helped propel the Cougars to a 40-30 win.
Reid's team and program could have faced a stressful situation at 1-3 ... or even 0-4.
"The glass is half full instead of half empty," Reid said. "(The bye week) seemed like forever. (It) has freshened our minds to the point where we missed it a little bit by not playing last Friday.
"The fever to get back onto the field of competition has shown this week and the guys are looking forward to playing two more teams outside of our conference."
The Cougars have healed with the exception of running back Rasheid Malette. The area's third-leading rusher, Malette remains bothered by an ankle injury he suffered against Aycock. The senior sat out the final 3-plus minutes of the third quarter and the entire fourth period.
Malette has 601 yards rushing and nine touchdowns this season.
Nine two-way starters have received some much-needed rest during the break. Quarterback Nashir Bowden and center Zach Falconer do not play on defense. Reid hopes to spell Malette on defense once the secondary gains some maturity.
"It worries me every time he steps onto the field for defense," Reid said. "We're playing 'Iron Man' football out here. When I see the JV numbers, I get a little mad, but I know those JV players aren't ready for varsity. We're a 2-A team playing with 1-A numbers, which has disappointed me this season.
"These guys have a will not to quit, they fight hard each Friday night and have good work habits. The team has come together and is beginning to feel like a family, which has happened earlier than we expected."
Goldsboro is the lone squad with a winning record in ECC play thus far this season. Kinston is 2-3, while South Lenoir is 1-4. Ayden-Grifton, the preseason favorite to win the league championship is winless, along with North Lenoir and Greene Central.
The weekly results have shocked Reid and his coaching staff. But they're also aware that the Cougars, who won three Carolina 1-A Conference championships during a four-year period, will carry the bullseye on their backs each Friday night when conference play starts.
"We realize that once you get into conference, things are going to change and teams are going to step up against you," Reid said. "Being 2-2 at this stage in the game really does put us in the hunt for a conference championship. That's our motivation to work harder.
"We know that's it's going to be a dogfight."
And a task to keep that ship sailing in the right direction.
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