Tigers face another hurdle in title hunt

Published 2:06 pm Friday, December 5, 2008

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
The hurdle keeps getting higher for the Williamston football team as it races towards an NCHSAA 1-A state championship.
One week after leaping over the second-seeded Creswell Tigers 40-6 in the third round of the playoffs, the third-seeded Tigers (9-5) must now take on the Beast of the East in the top-seeded Jones Trojans.
Led by fifth-year coach Greg Hampton, Jones (Coastal Conference) has compiled a 13-1 record and features a senior-heavy team led by quarterback Covair Frost, linebacker Josh Brown and wide receiver Thomas Fryer.
Frost is a dynamic playmaker who has passed for over 2,400 yards, while rushing for 1,500 out of the Trojans spread offense.
Frost also has done a great job taking care of the ball, as he has passed for 28 Tds, while throwing only nine picks.
When Frost leaves the pocket or takes off on a designed run, the results have been astounding. Frost has racked up 1,551 yards on 177 carries (nine yards per attempt), and has reached the end zone 28 times.
Fryer is a 6-6 junior that creates a very difficult matchup for any cornerback, while Brown is a 6-2 wideout that can make a team pay for concentrating too much on Frost or Fryer.
This season the Trojans trio has helped Jones score over 30 points in all but two of its 14 games.
Ever since losing its season opener to 2-A Southwest Onslow 30-14, Jones has been on a tear, and hasn’t lost since. However, last Friday the charging freight train that is the Trojans almost got derailed.
Battling the fourth-seeded Weldon Chargers, Jones got down 20-0 at halftime of their third-round battle.
At the break Hampton challenged his players to step up and match the physicality of Weldon, and his team responded with a 40-6 second half run to propel the Trojans into the semifinals.
Hampton and his squad are no strangers to the playoffs. Jones has made it to the third round each of the past three seasons, and this year his club was able to leap a hurdle of its own and make it to the 1-A semifinals.
The Trojans returned 20 starters from the 2007-08 team, and Hampton said he hopes that his team’s playoff experience will payoff tonight.
Offensively, both the Trojans and the Tigers like to spread out the field and move the chains with a running quarterback.
Williamston has gotten great production out of Emery Griggs, who filled in at the quarterback spot for injured starter Cedric Moody. On the season, Griggs has rushed for xxxxx.
Williamston coach Asim McGill said there are a lot of similarities between the Trojan attack and the Tigers.
Hampton agreed with McGill’s assessment.
Both teams share similar philosophies on offense, and also share the same chief concern heading into tonight’s matchup: stopping the playmaker behind center.
Hampton said he was impressed with the Tigers’ offense, and that said stopping Griggs is a must.
The similarities don’t stop on offense, both teams play an aggressive style of defense. The only difference is how they go about it.
The Tigers generally use variations of the 4-3, with all seven players up front trained to go after the QB like a hungry wolf chasing a prey.
On most snaps linebackers, and twin brothers DeBriant and DeBrian Everett will walk up to the line of scrimmage and blitz, making it seven versus five or six up front.
Last week the twins and the rest of the Tigers’ defense dominated at the point of attack, and shutdown a potent Creswell offense.
The Trojans, led by senior linebacker Josh Brown, use a 3-5-3 as its base defense, but will hunt the opposing quarterback just the same.
Neither team is going to deviate from its aggressive, blitzing philosophy.
McGill acknowledged the risk of blitzing a running quarterback, but said the price for playing conservatively seems steeper.
Hampton understandably didn’t want to talk to much of about his defensive game plan other then to say “We are going to be very aggressive and attack the ball.”
There are two keys to this game that will likely determine who will be playing for the state title.
First and foremost, which team can do the best job stopping the other’s quarterback from dashing all over the field like Randal Cunningham in his prime.
The next factor is which team has more offensive firepower to make the other pay for concentrating on the QB.
Whether it be through the air or with a running back, which ever team shows the most effective balance on offense will likely advance to the big dance.