08/09/17 — FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Rosewood will be the 'new-look' Eagles this fall

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FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Rosewood will be the 'new-look' Eagles this fall

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 9, 2017 5:52 AM


Intrigued by the 3-3 stack defense, Rosewood head football coach Robert Britt -- along with his staff -- decided to make a 30-minute trek down Highway 117 to Calypso.

He wanted to learn more.

For three hours, Britt and North Duplin head coach Hugh Martin discussed the nuances of a scheme that required just three down linemen and eight defenders standing up on every snap of the ball. You see, a year ago, the Eagles were either a step or two slow and couldn't make the plays on the edge.

Rosewood yielded 43.75 points a game in 2016 -- the highest single-season average allowed during Britt's 10-year tenure on the sideline.

The new tactic should help the Eagles play faster, change direction on a dime and make crucial stops in open space when an opponent attempts to find a little bit of open real estate.

"I've always been a multiple defense kind of guy and like to give teams different looks," Britt said. "We need to be a little better this year slowing teams down. We've worked hard to give these kids reps that we feel like are fast enough to play out on the edges so we'll be a little more athletic in the running alleys.

"We're happy with the installation phase of the 3-3. We've got to continue to get better at it. I think we have showed some potential."

Senior free safety Tucker Chapin emerged as the Eagles' top tackler last season. He'll work as a two-way starter along with senior cornerback Jaikel Coley and sophomore defensive end Jack White. Senior Joey Behrend and junior Jordan Todd return at outside linebacker and safety, respectively.

Todd is the reigning state 1-A wrestling champ at 132 pounds.


The timbre in Britt's voice changes.

He gushes over an experienced line, speed in the backfield and a few wrinkles scribbled into the offensive playbook by assistant coach Josh Smith.

The question mark? Quarterback. Chapin, junior Michael Reid and sophomore Trent Lancaster established a spirited competition during spring and summer workouts, and the opening week of practice. Chapin could have the edge once the Eagles launch their 2017 season Aug. 18 in Pikeville.

Should Reid not start under center, he'll deliver the mail along with indoor/outdoor track standout Amrei Atwell and Devante Phillips in a new option-oriented package. Reid rambled for 195 yards and three touchdowns on just 22 carries as an understudy behind 1,000-yard rushers Cam Helt and Tronqull Blue a year ago.

The quintet of senior Bryton Lambeth, Montreal Woodard, Andrew Henn, senior Noah Carden and junior Nyterrius Williams will man the trenches.

"I like what Coach Smith has done with the offense," said Britt, whose team punched the ball into the end zone on 48 occasions last fall. "I think we are very versatile even moreso now than we've done in the past. We're going to be able to attack all areas of the field. I'm really happy where the offense is right now."

Britt had a flashback to 2016.

The Eagles suffered injuries in back-to-back losses to Lakewood and Spring Creek, which depleted their depth on both sides of the ball. The damage proved costly -- six consecutive defeats to end the season.

"We were really thin," he said.

Spring Creek and James Kenan have departed the Carolina 1-A Conference for the bruising, highly-competitive East Central 2-A. Union returns as a Carolina member for the first time in nearly two decades.

Lakewood, North Duplin and Princeton are the reigning Carolina tri-champions.

Rosewood hasn't won the league since 1999.

"If we can stay healthy once conference starts, I like our chances against everybody," Britt said. "I don't know if we're ever going to be a team that's just going to be favored heavily over anybody. We've still got to be coached up. The kids have still got to work hard every day.

"I have faith that they will."