He did the same thing with this year’s footage prior to devising a game plan for Friday’s third round contest and noticed many similarities. The Red Devils are still fast, prefer an uptempo pace and throw more passes every game than the Tigers call in a season.
“They cause a lot of problems for teams because they’re explosive on offense and aggressiveness on defense,” Avent said Tuesday in a telephone interview with The Robesonian. “They haven’t changed much from what I’ve seen, but they’re a whole lot different from us and what we do.”
Avent pointed at the passing game as a cause for concern, something Red Springs spends more time on than any opponent James Kenan sees in the Tri-County Conference. Quarterback Blake Greene has thrown 328 times this season — 105 more attempted passes than last season — and has doubled his overall output with 3,679 yards and 48 touchdown tosses.
Greene accounted for five of his county-leading 42 touchdowns last season against the Tigers in the second round of the 1AA playoffs, throwing for 304 yards against an inexperienced secondary. Most of those defensive backs are a year wiser in Avent’s system and should be more prepared for what they’ll see through the air Friday night.
“I’m sure we’ll go with our usual mix of run and pass,” Red Springs coach George Coltharp said. “We’re good at what we do and they’re good at what they do. We know they’ll be ready, but we’ll dance with the stuff that got us here.”
In comparison to last year’s 7-5 squad that lost by two touchdowns at Red Springs, top-seeded James Kenan (12-0) is vastly improved. The Tigers have dominated opponents on the ground throughout the season, running away with a conference championship under an option-based attack led by junior Marcelias Sutton. On defense, James Kenan’s posted five shutouts, led its league in turnover differential and hasn’t allowed more than 21 points in any contest.
Further inspection indicates the Tigers closely mirror James Kenan’s 2007 1AA state champion led by 1,700-yard back Brandon Satchell. That squad dominated on defense too, limiting the opposition to 110 total points in 16 games.
“We know they’re going to make big plays, we just have to tackle well and try to play sound defensively,” Avent said. “They have lots of guys that could potentially hurt us.”
Keeping Red Springs’ offense off the field and churning the clock are key sticking points in the Tigers’ quest toward getting back to the title game.
“We like to run the ball and play defense,” Avent said. “That’s worked out for us thus far. We don’t do anything fancy. We just want to establish the run and force turnovers. We’ll have to play our best football game of the season to win.”