High School Sports

Goldsboro Cougars building toward playoff goal

3-and-out with Goldsboro coach Bennett Johnson

The Cougars jumped from 1-10 to 5-6 in year two under the former Beddingfield quarterback. With a 17-player senior class, Goldsboro aims for the playoffs this year.
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The Cougars jumped from 1-10 to 5-6 in year two under the former Beddingfield quarterback. With a 17-player senior class, Goldsboro aims for the playoffs this year.

Third-year Goldsboro football coach Bennett Johnson, a former all-state quarterback at Beddingfield, didn’t hire 17 extra assistant coaches this offseason. It just feels that way.

The Cougars’ 17 seniors have led parts of practice and have initiated team meetings to squash disagreements.

“They’re great leaders and this thing has really become player-led since January, which is really what you want as a coach,” Johnson said. “All the small stuff like that is going to make all the difference in the world for our program.”

The small stuff added up for Goldsboro last year. The Cougars were much-improved from a 3-8 mark in 2014 that included a win-by-forfeit, going 5-6 and narrowly missing the playoffs.

Any changes to schemes?

With a bigger defensive line, Goldsboro is moving from a 3-3-5 stack to a 4-4 look. The offensive line will be a little undersized and is moving away from a zone-blocking scheme.

“It’s going to be more hopefully downhill than we’ve been in the past,” Johnson said. “We like our two running backs (Xavior Bowden and Aaron Smith) and we want to get them the ball.”

Who are some players to watch?

R.J. Dodson is a senior captain at linebacker and will have lots of help with Dayquell Dawson – who will also split time at quarterback with K.J. Alston – safety Adrian Safford, lineman Trevor Taylor and defensive back Jacob Owens. Almost everybody will be asked to play both ways.

Can the Cougars make another leap this year?

After a nice improvement from Year 1 to Year 2, Johnson said eight wins is a reasonable goal, but they’ll be aiming for more.

“I really think a reasonable goal is to be conference champions,” Johnson said. “We don’t have to be world-beaters to achieve it. We just have to go out, play hard, play well and execute. We’ve definitely got the things in place here to be successful.”

J. Mike Blake: 919-460-2606, @JMBpreps

More on the Cougars

Last year: 5-6 (2-3 Eastern Carolina 2A)

Five year average: 6-6 (3-2)

Preseason N&O rank: Unranked

Offense: Pro-style

Defense: 4-4

Coaches: Bennett Johnson (head coach/Off. coordinator/QBs), Jay Wilson (Def. coordinator), Mike Barnett (OL), Atari Farmer (RBs), Brandon Davis (WRs), Larry Broadhurst (DL), Danny Merritt (LBs)

Contributors: Dayquell Dawson (Sr., QB/LB), K.J. Alston (Sr., QB/WR/DB), Xavior Bowden (Soph., RB/LB), Aaron Smith (Jr., RB/DL), R.J. Dodson (Sr., LB/FB), Adrian Safford (Sr., RB/S), Jacob Owens (Sr., WR/DB), Ronnie Tookes (Sr., WR/CB), Jaiel Ashford (Sr., OL/DL), Nick Russo (Sr., OL/DL), Trevor Taylor (Sr., OL/DL), Armarti Bates (Sr. OL/DL).

The main number: 14 – Goldsboro mustered just 14 points in games against the conference’s top three teams: Kinston, Greene Central and Ayden-Grifton.


Aug. 19 vs. Beddingfield, 7 p.m.

Aug. 26 vs. Eastern Wayne, 7 p.m.

Sep. 2 at Southern Wayne, 7 p.m.

Sep. 9 at C.B. Aycock, 7 p.m.

Sep. 16 vs. Northern Nash, 7 p.m.

Sep. 23 BYE

Sep. 30 at Farmville Central, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 7* vs. North Lenoir, 7 p.m.

Oct. 14* vs. Kinston, 7 p.m.

Oct. 21* at South Lenoir, 7 p.m.

Oct. 28* at Ayden-Grifton, 7 p.m.

Nov. 4* vs. Greene Central, 7 p.m.

Note: *conference game