Greenville’s J.H. Rose was tantalizingly close to adding to the school’s state championship trophy case last fall. The Rampants, who won four straight titles from 2003-06, fell 27-20 to Charlotte Catholic in the waning minutes of the 4A title game.
In many ways, Rose is getting back to the glory days.
Despite graduating 32 players, this year’s group has a whopping 42 seniors. Depth hasn’t been an issue for coach David Wotjecki, who has won double-digit games in all three seasons.
“The weight room has a lot to do with it,” Wotjecki said. “I even have freshmen parents coming to me saying the changes they’ve seen in their kids’ bodies already. We really pride ourselves on that kind of training.”
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Who are the players to watch?
Quarterback Ryan Goodwin entered the starting lineup in his team’s third game due to injury, then promptly threw for 3,358 yards (60.2 completion percentage) and 45 touchdowns to just 8 interceptions.
“With a year under his belt, I think he’ll be more confident throwing,” Wotjecki said. “He was starting to throw balls in windows that we normally wouldn’t want him to throw in, but he has the confidence in his arm to make those throws now.”
Running back Dontavies Harris (1,939 yards, 25 TDs) and wide receiver Mydreon Vines (41 catches, 645 yards, 7 TDs) form a “big 3” that few teams can match. Junior linebacker Alex Nease compiled a team-leading 110 tackles.
Is there a weak spot?
The offensive line and defensive line was hit the hardest by graduation, losing three linemen each. Teonte’ Douglas, a transfer from Georgia, could help on defense. Blake James takes over at center.
Can the Rampants get back to the title?
Absolutely, but the Rampants won’t be looking too far ahead. There might not be a tougher three-game swing in the East than Havelock, Rocky Mount and D.H. Conley (the arch-rival Vikings are the defending conference champs but were ousted by Rose in the playoffs).
Fortunately for Rose, all three of those games are at home.
More on the Rampants
Last year: 12-3 (5-1 Eastern Carolina 3A/4A), 4A runner-up
Five year average: 8-4 (3-2)
Preseason N&O rank: 3rd
Offense: High-tempo spread
Defense: 3-5-3 Stack
Coaches: David Wojtecki (head coach), Will Bland (JV head coach/WRs), Justin Allred (Off. coordinator/QBs), Robert Compton (Def. coordinator/DL), Mike Pittman (RBs), Clifton Maddox (WRs), Trashon Matthews (OL), Daquan Blount (DL), Cliff James (OLBs), Lamel Ward (ILBs), Dontea Bibbs (CBs), Damian Carr (FS/SS)
Contributors: Ryan Goodwin (Sr., QB), Dontavies Harris (Sr., RB), Mydreon Vines (Sr., WR), Caleb Edwards (Sr., WR), Charles Fletcher (Sr., OL), Tyshawn Barrett (Sr., OL), Blake James (Sr., OL), Jamie Gaskins (Sr., DL), Teonte’ Douglas (Sr., DL), Alex Nease (Jr., LB), Michael Hickner (Sr., LB), Jordan Harris (Sr., LB), Cameron Caldron (Sr., DB), Quadai Ward (Sr., S), Evan Marr (Sr., DB)
The main number: 5 – Rose allowed more than 40 points in five games last year, but went 4-1 in those contests.
Aug. 19 BYE
Aug. 26 vs. Laney, 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 1# at Leesville Road, 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 9 vs. Havelock, 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 16 vs. Rocky Mount, 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 23* vs. D.H. Conley, 7 p.m.
Sep. 30* at South Central, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7* at Southern Wayne, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14* at Eastern Wayne, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 BYE
Oct. 28* vs. C.B. Aycock, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4* vs. New Bern, 7 p.m.
Note: *conference game; #Thursday game.