First Posted: 11/12/2009
Its that time again.
Friday marks the beginning of the Mount Airy Granite Bears 2009 state title defense, as the Rosewood Eagles come calling to Wallace Shelton Stadium.
Rosewood (3-8) is the No. 16 seed in the 1A Western bracket out of the 1A Carolina conference, which also features the No. 2 seed from the 1AA East in Goldsboro (9-1) and the No. 5 seed from the 1A West in Princeton (8-2), a team the Bears could face in the third round.
In the preliminary brackets released by the NCHSAA Saturday, the No. 1 seeded Bears were scheduled to host Union Academy, only to have the final bracket change their first-round opponent.
While Rosewood is in the 1A Western bracket, the only thing east of the Goldsboro school is the Atlantic ocean.
The Eagles will be wearing purple and Vegas gold when they arrive in the Granite City from the four-hour-plus bus ride and will bring with them a decidedly young football team.
Rosewoods squad is comprised more than half of underclassmen, with the Eagles dressing out nine seniors, five juniors, eight sophomores and nine freshman.
The Rosewood defense starts four sophomores.
Mount Airy coach Kelly Holder said the Eagles run a basic Wing-T offense, with a big emphasis on running the football.
Holder said with a team like Rosewood, its difficult to get a read on just exactly what kind of team they are.
They are very young, but they are athletic at their skill positions, Holder said. Its hard to get a grasp on to how good a team like Rosewood is because they are playing teams from the east that youve never seen play, youve got no comparisons to make. So you prepare for every team like they are world beaters.
Holder said he and his staff have only been able to view tape on Rosewood against teams who run a shotgun based offense, making it hard to plan offensively since the Bears are a predominantly under-center team.
Both teams weve seen them against were out of the gun, Holder said. We havent seen them play anybody who is under-center, so it is a little bit of a disadvantage, but thats something youve got to deal with in the playoffs.
Holder said in the playoffs, coaches must rely on what has worked during the season and adjust as the game dictates.
That makes a big difference the way you can adjust during a game, Holder said of the uncertainty of a playoff opponent. That happened to us against Williamston last year, they did some things to us we hadnt seen on tape and we definitely had to make some adjustments. You could tell it early. When you play teams from your conference for years and years and you know the coaching staff you pretty much know what youre getting night in, night out, so you really have to be a little vague during the week and you really have to look at personnel.
Last week, Mount Airy clinched its third consecutive conference title with a 30-6 win over rival East Surry.
Receiver Justin Collier and quarterback Ben Hinson were the stars offensively for the Bears, who threw for more than 250 yards and three scores in the win. Collier caught all three of those touchdown passes including a sneaky 55-yard strike from senior running back Luke Wheeler just before halftime to break the game open for the Bears.
Contact Thomas Smith at [email protected] or 719-1920.