Coach Bubba Williams left one of the state’s smallest 3A schools for the largest this offseason, but there are similiarities between the two.
Williams’ last two Eastern Wayne teams finished 11-3 in back-to-back seasons. Corinth Holders, a much newer school that opened in the fall of 2010, also reached new heights a year ago when it went 9-4 under now-retired Barry Honeycutt.
Becoming the best in school history was an achievement for both teams last year, and it’s the Pirates’ goal for this season.
“What I’ve always stressed is being the best in school history, but in doing so you’ve got to get better every day,” Williams said. “So the short term is ‘I’ve got to be better today than I was yesterday,’ and ultimately, stack your numbers up against what they’ve done in the past and try to be the best seniors who have walked through that door.”
Williams is familiar with the league. Three years ago, Eastern Wayne was part of the Eastern Carolina 3A with Cleveland, South Johnston and Triton.
The league coaches picked the Pirates (9-4, 4-1) second in this year’s Two Rivers 3A.
One of the reasons to be high on Corinth Holders is the exceptional experience on the offensive and defensive lines, which return almost completely intact from a year ago.
Defensive end Trey Adams had 10.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore.
On offense, the biggest position battle is Kaelin O’Neal and Jimmy Ferrell competing for quarterback, with the backup likely to start at another position.
Senior running back Howard Watson, who broke for 1,631 yards rushing with 18 touchdowns, should anchor the Pirates’ attack.
Offense: Spread option.
Contributors: ATH Kaelin O’Neal; ATH Jimmy Ferrell; RB Howard Watson; WR Jordan Neal; OL Matt Morgan; OL Matt Cooper; OL Pierce Rickman; OL Austin Himmel; DL Trey Adams; DL Noah Vasquez; DL Quinton Ross; DL Shamarko Wortham; LB Ian Cregan; DB Raquan Jones; DB Gary Allen; DB/WR Josiah Adams.
Expected team strength: Offensive line.
Question mark: Linebacker.
The main number: 7.8 – Howard Watson averaged 7.8 yards per carry on the year.
The quote: “You’d like to know who your quarterback is more so than anything else just so you can get some stability there,” Williams said.
Game to watch: Sept. 11 vs. East Wake. The visiting Warriors – a 4A team despite having about 200 fewer kids than booming Corinth Holders – were 10-3 a year ago. The two nearby schools have never played one another in football.
Previous five seasons
2014: 9-4 (4-1), 3AA second round
2013: 7-5 (2-3), 3AA first round
2012: 5-7 (5-2), 2AA first round
2011: 0-11 (0-7)
2010: JV only
N&O football previews
Up next: Chapel Hill, Lee County