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Coaches choose Rampants in preseason poll

081319-Andy Tew

South Central head coach Andy Tew (center) speaks with the media at the 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference football media day Monday afternoon.

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By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

For the second consecutive year, coaches in the 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference tabbed J.H. Rose High School as the preseason favorite to take the conference football title this year.

JHR took the top spot with four of the seven first place votes and 33 points. South Central placed second with 30 points and three first place votes, while D.H. Conley came in third with 29 points. The local trio was followed by New Bern (20 points), C.B. Aycock (15), Eastern Wayne (14) and Southern Wayne (7).

After being voted into the top spot in the preseason in 2018, things didn’t go the Rampants way, as an 8-4 overall record (4-2 in conference) was only good for third behind champion South Central and runner-up D.H. Conley. Rose head coach Dave Wojtecki respected that his team was selected as the preseason favorite but said it would make no difference on the field.

“It’s nice that the other coaches respect the program,” Wojtecki said. “Just being picked doesn’t mean a lot. You still have to go out and play the games. Last year, we were picked first and finished third, so the picks don’t mean that much to us. We won’t talk about it with the guys. We just have to make sure we handle our own business this year.”

The Falcons will look to retain their crown this season, and coaches believe they have a shot, voting SC into second place. Head coach Andy Tew explained that while he respected his fellow coaches voting his team so high, the process of repeating would be very difficult following the loss of a 22-player senior class.

“I’m thrilled that they think that much of our team, but I don’t think we’ll be as competitive as we thought last year,” Tew said. “I think we are going to have a good football team. I think Rose is in that conversation and I think New Bern is going to have a good team as well. Conley is always going to be a good football team and the Wayne County schools always have strong teams. You never know what that preseason stuff is going to turn into. It’s an idea of what everyone thinks of each other’s rosters and who’s coming back. I appreciate that they felt that way about us, but we’ll see how the season shakes out.”

Conley did not receive a first-place vote, but that didn’t stop the Vikings last season when they were also selected to finish third in the conference. Head coach Nate Conner agreed with Tew, saying the preseason poll has no impact on how the season shakes out in reality.

“South Central has had great teams the past two years, and they really had a great year last season,” head coach Nate Conner said. “Rose had a really good team last year, and what it goes back to is that there is a culture in each one of those programs. I’m not saying that there isn’t at the other places. Every year, kids graduate and new guys come in. We have to see who they really are on the field, and we know that by the time we play them later in the season. That sophomore or junior that didn’t have much varsity experience at the beginning of the year is a changed football player by the time we see them. It’s to early to know where everyone is going to be as far as that goes.”

All three teams kick off their seasons at home on Aug. 23. Rose will host Fike at 7 p.m., while Conley takes on Northeastern. South Central will host its rematch with last season’s Week One opponent, Greene Central, at 7:30 p.m..

Contact Jake Keator at jkeator@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.

Contact Jake Keator at jkeator@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.

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