11/12/17 — FOOTBALL --Rosewood JV troupe collects Carolina 1A share

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FOOTBALL --Rosewood JV troupe collects Carolina 1A share

By John Joyce
Published in Sports on November 12, 2017 11:11 PM

Change can be a good thing.

The Rosewood High junior varsity football outfit, which won just four games a season ago, made a late alteration to its locker room in August when it brought former Goldsboro High fixture Danny Merritt on board to lead the Eagles.

And the change was a good thing.

Under Merritt's guiding hand, Rosewood found a leader at quarterback and blossomed at the skill positions, finishing with an overall of 7-4 -- good enough for a share of the Carolina 1A crown for the first time in school history.

But as anyone who knows the old ball coach will attest, he wasn't exactly over the moon about taking credit for the makeover.    

"By the time I got here in August, the foundation had been laid," Merritt said recently. "Coach Smith and Coach King already had the offense and defense, respectively... All I had to do was maintain and manage."

Which he and assistant coach Mitchell King did with aplomb.

The Eagles averaged nearly 25 points per ball game, twice pitched defensive shutouts and finished the campaign with a 34-14 thumping of new league foe Union -- on the road, no less.

Leading the charge was quarterback Will Harris, who spun the strings for over 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns this fall.

He was joined in the backfield by tailback Avante George, who accounted for over 1,000 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns.

Outside the numbers, the duo of Davien Thompson and Logan Merritt kept opposing defensive coordinators honest, racking up 19 touchdowns between them.

And then there was the purple-and-gold defense.

Tyshon McCoy paced RHS with 64 tackles and a quartet of fumble recoveries, while linebacker Elijah Joyner contributed 60 tackles.

Defensive end Keith Jones was a disruptive force on the edge, consistently meddling in the opposition's backfield and filing 51 tackles. Christian Decatur contributed 51 tackles and made one interception.

"The players were already well-versed in fundamentals," Merritt said of the program's roots. "And Coach Britt is the best special teams coach I've ever worked with."

Which, of course, signals for prosperity down the road.