09/07/18 — PREP FOOTBALL: Measuring stick -- Goldsboro is next test for CBA

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PREP FOOTBALL: Measuring stick -- Goldsboro is next test for CBA

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 7, 2018 5:51 AM



PIKEVILLE -- There's a friendly wager going on among the skill athletes in the Charles B. Aycock football locker room these days.

The bet?

Who can get the most touches on the ball each Friday night, and who can take the ball to the house first.

"When things like that are happening, you know you've got a squad that's having fun," sixth-year Golden Falcons head coach Steve Brooks said.

A team that's matured from a learning curve established in spring and preseason workouts, the Golden Falcons face another quality measuring stick when county rival -- and athletic-rich -- Goldsboro invades Hardy Talton Stadium tonight.

Kickoff is 7 p.m.

"The fact that we're playing a cross-county rival allows us to keep the excitement up for sure," Brooks said. "It would be huge for our program and our community to win this football game. [But] it's not just Goldsboro. We need to get as many wins as we can possibly get and they're just the next opponent on our schedule.

"They're excited about the style of football that they're playing."

Brooks expected the youthful Golden Falcons to struggle leaving the nest this season.

They've spread their wings and soared, instead.

Aycock is 2-1 overall with two non-league contests left on its ledger.

Goldsboro, also 2-1, presents plenty of challenges in different areas.

There's Division I recruit Xzavior Bowden hovering as a bruising running back and linebacker.

Defensive end Darius Rodgers feasted at Southern Wayne last week, logging a career-high five quarterback sacks and eight stops for the game. He's part of a unit that's forced 14 turnovers, 14 sacks and collected 20 tackles for loss this season.

The Cougars have dropped their "one-dimensional" tag, too.

Bowden and backfield mates JB Rhodes and Isaiah Gray are capable of breaking loose for big gains on the ground. But quarterback Brody Morton can stretch the defense, too. The senior signal caller prefers to get the ball into the hands of Jykeis McLean and Terrell Valentine, who have combined for 400-plus receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

Morton ranks No. 2 in the area in total passing yardage (510) behind CBA sophomore Clay Matthews (617).

"We've got to slow them down," Brooks said of the Cougars' fast-paced scheme that is designed to wear down opposing defenses.

"We've got to make Brody feel uncomfortable back there, show him some different coverages and confuse him. We've got to find a way to tackle their big running back [Bowden]. We've got to take him away."

The Golden Falcons mirror the Cougars on offense, says first-year GHS head coach Timothy Ray.

Matthews has spread the wealth among his backfield mates -- D-1 recruit Tae Jackson and Seth Shepherd. The athletic and instinct-driven signal caller has connected with Jaylan Robinson and Alijuan Moore a combined 31 times for 447 yards and five TDs through the airwaves.

Ray said the Cougars' secondary, particularly McLean and Naz Wooten, have covered opposing receivers like a blanket through the first three weeks of play. If they continue to deny the deep-ball threat, they'll stay on the path to success.

The tale of the game?

"Who can play the best defense?" Ray said. "Our speed up front is going to be a big key and getting pressure on the quarterback so our secondary can play well."