Rocky Mount High will be comfortable throwing the ball plenty this season with senior quarterback Josh Carter.
Giving him time to throw might take a bit of patience.
The Gryphons’ offensive line is young and progressing, and during the team’s 34-0 victory Friday against South Granville, the unit at times showed it is taking baby steps toward improving.
Carter was hurried a handful of times, and the team’s running game was all but stalled except for a 70-yard touchdown run by Mallik Lewis midway through the fourth quarter.
If not for that run, the Gryphons would not have eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground.
Carter threw for 118 yards, but an emerging ground game behind an offensive line full of sophomores, juniors and only one senior could still be weeks away.
“It’s going to be a learning process every week,” Rocky Mount coach Jason Battle said. “But based on the way our schedule looks, we better learn in a hurry.”
Rocky Mount Prep
Jaguars coach Danny Ward wasn’t sure which direction his team was heading at halftime of the team’s opener Friday against Gaston KIPP-Pride.
The two schools were knotted in a tie, and all Ward said he saw from his team was a lot of nervous energy. It didn’t take long for that energy to be transformed into all positives.
Rocky Mount Prep kept KIPP scoreless during the game’s final half in rolling to a 30-8 victory.
Mark Tann and Percy Harper each finished with 114 rushing yards.
“Our defense stepped up for us, and we scored a few touchdowns,” Ward said.
The victory was Rocky Mount Prep’s third on the varsity level after beginning play in the 2012 season.
The Bulldogs changed offensive schemes in the offseason in hopes of finding more production. But Friday night, that didn’t show. Nash Central turned over the ball four times and managed just eight first downs in a 33-6 loss at Tarboro.
Coach Kevin Crudup juggled two quarterbacks and an array of different formations, but the offense was most effective when Corey Pearce was under center. The sophomore had scrambles of 15 and 14 yards, and showed he’s the top option in the huddle.
The Bulldogs need to find consistency, and Pearce would be a start for a team averaging just 5.8 points per game in its last 12 contests.
“He did a real good job for us. He made some nice runs. Still, he’s just a sophomore so there are some things he needs to work on. We know what we want to do offensively, we just got to understand our assignments and do what we’re coached to do,” Crudup said.
Randy Raper was hoping his team would show some fight in the fourth quarter, and his wish came true.
The Knights stormed back with 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to defeat Wendell Corinth-Holders, 24-20.
“It spoke volume about the character of the kids we have on this football team,” Raper said. “Breaking old habits is hard, but it showed a lot of character for us to do that.”
Raper said he didn’t think his team played poorly during the first quarter or so when the Knights fell behind, 14-0, but Northern Nash just didn’t execute at a high-enough level.
He added the victory was a complete team effort, but Raper did single out senior quarterback Jacob Green, who he said showed “a lot of grit, a lot of character and a lot of heart” to orchestrate the comeback.
The Cougars’ matchup with Southern Nash was so physical that they had at least four linemen leave the field with various ailments.
Although many of those injuries did not look too serious, junior center Kevin Parker was carried off the field by his teammates with an ankle injury, and after a brief evaluation on the bench, Parker was wheeled off on a stretcher to an ambulance for further tests. Coach Jonathan Cobb said Saturday that Parker suffered a sprained ankle and will miss Thursday’s game against North Edgecombe.
Cobb said before the season that the offensive line was two-deep at most positions, and that depth was tested Friday against the Firebirds.
“Luckily, we have some guys who can step in and play those positions,” Cobb said. “It’s never good to lose key guys on the offensive line. I thought the guys that stepped in still did a good job.”
There was not much that went wrong for Southern Nash’s offense against SouthWest Edgecombe on Friday night.
The Firebirds moved the ball with relative ease, particularly in critical situations on third and fourth down. The offensive line jelled well together and opened up plenty of holes for the cadre of running backs.
The one negative was the three plays Southern Nash ran from their spread formation at the end of the first half.
Quarterback Zack Foster never looked comfortable in that package, unlike when he was orchestrating the normal offense. Coach Brian Foster sensed his quarterback’s discomfort, but complemented him on his overall play at the helm of the complex offense.
Zack Foster however was more critical of himself and said that his play was the one thing the offense needed to improve upon prior to Thursday night’s game at Wilson Beddingfield.
There normally is not a lot to nitpick about in a 52-0 victory, but North Edgecombe coach Keith Parisher did notice a few things the Warriors will need to work on despite blowing out Northwest Halifax on Friday.
Parisher said the team had a few mishandled center-quarterback exchanges, and Warriors’ running backs were out of position on a few plays.
North Edgecombe played every athlete, and each had an opportunity to improve in advance of Thursday night’s rivalry game against SouthWest Edgecombe.
It’s a game North Edgecombe has not won in more than a decade.
“We’re going to have to play at the top of our game,” Parisher said. “(SouthWest Edgecombe) is not a bad team. They lost to a good team Friday.”
Vikings coach Jeff Craddock was quick to point out the positives after a 33-6 win against Nash Central on Friday, but there was also one looming negative. Tarboro had three extra points blocked along with a 38-yard field goal attempt.
“That should be a strength of ours,” Craddock said. “Dawson (Harris) can kick the hell out of a ball, but we left a lot of points out there.”
Harris, who doubles as the team’s place-kicker when he’s not at quarterback, didn’t appear to be the problem.
The Vikings simply couldn’t hold a block at the point of attack, which allowed Nash Central to put a hand on every extra point attempt.
Harris lined up for a field goal early in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs were in the backfield before he even reached the ball.
Special teams are a third of the game, and winning programs usually don’t have problems in that department.
“We have got enough to work on just with the kicking game,” Craddock said.