Rosewood Hoping to Take Another Step Forward Against Northside-Pinetown

Rosewood Hoping to Take Another Step Forward Against Northside-Pinetown

Rosewood Hoping to Take Another Step Forward Against Northside-Pinetown

As Rosewood sputtered to an 0-3 start to begin the season, noticeably absent were the pillars the program had been built on in recent years.

A consistent, hard-nosed running game, spearheaded by a physical offensive line and a salty, and opportunistic defense were lacking for the Eagles. Rosewood struggled to run the football with senior tailback David Lamm, behind a rebuilt offensive line that had to replace four starters lost to graduation. Lamm had just one rushing touchdown through the first three games.

Rosewood also turned the ball over eight times in its first three games and averaged just 12.5 points per contest in losses to C.B. Aycock and North Johnston.

The Eagles’ defense, known for being stingy with a knack for forcing turnovers, suddenly found slowing down opposing offenses to be daunting, while creating takeaways was almost non-existent. C.B. Aycock. North Johnston and Princeton combined to gash Rosewood for 781 yards on the ground with 11 touchdowns, while averaging nearly six yards a carry.

Rosewood began to show signs of life offensively in the final three quarters at Princeton. Junior quarterback Gio Pineda, a transfer from Spring Creek passed for 325 yards with five touchdowns while displaying chemistry with receivers Micah Cox and Talan Collins. Cox torched the Bulldogs’ secondary for nine catches for 259 yards and three scores.

The Eagles got back to looking like themselves a week ago, in their first meeting ever with Southern Wayne. The offensive line took a major step forward in their maturation process and consistently opened running lanes for Lamm for the first time all season. Lamm finished with three rushing touchdowns, and Rosewood defeated Southern Wayne 30-12, and earned first-year head coach Josh Smith his first victory.

“I think we were able to establish the line of scrimmage which helped tremendously in what has been a major focal point for us the last couple of weeks,” Smith said. “I thought David continued to work hard, in that early in the game he wasn’t getting many yards on his touches. Then, because of his drive he was able to start turning out some yards. We kept plugging away and at the end of the night we were able to be successful.”

Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Jason King’s unit forced five Saints’ turnovers a week ago, turned in five stops on fourth down, and shut Southern Wayne out in the second half. Southern Wayne entered the ballgame averaging 39 points per game, and was held to its lowest output of the young season.

“I think our defense is continuing to trust the process of the defensive philosophy of everybody doing their job,” Smith said. “We firmly believe that we’re like a big puzzle, and everybody has their own piece to the end result. We had a bunch of guys flying to the football which helps a lot. Being able to get in and rip the football out, or just being in the right place when a mistake happens. We’ve had this bend but don’t break mentality, and each week our defense continues to get better and better. I thought this past week they were able to put all that together and be able to have a really good game.”

The Eagles (1-3) will face another test on Friday night as Northside-Pinetown (2-1) visits Branch Pope Field at 7 p.m. The game can be heard locally on 98.3 WGBR and online at, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Northside-Pinetown won both previous meetings with Rosewood in 2020 and last season. A year ago, the Panthers rushed for 394 yards and five touchdowns en route to a 34-24 win. The trio of Max Vansant, Jamie Corprew and Malachi Moore have combined to rush for 771 of Northside-Pinetown’s 925 rushing yards, to go along with 11 of the team’s 14 rushing touchdowns.

“Up front on offense is a strong point for us,” Panthers’ head coach Keith Boyd said. “I’m pretty senior heavy from tight end to tight end. Jamie, our fullback, is our only senior running back. He’s kind of our downhill guy, he’s pretty strong and got some experience. Max Vansant and Malachi Moore, their our wings, and we try to get them the ball on the edge and on counters, they can be kind of shifty. Those three probably block as good as I’ve ever had anybody block.”

Northside-Pinetown’s defense is holding opponents to 13 points a game, and has only allowed one opposing player to rush for 100 yards or more through three games. The Panthers have also forced five turnovers and they’ve recorded 12 tackles for loss.

“Our biggest strength so far has probably been our defense,” Boyd said. “We’ve been able to hold people down and bend and not break. We’ve been very fortunate not to give up the big play, except for against North Duplin, which game back and bit us late.”

Despite the slow start to the season, Smith and the Eagles are far from uncharted territory. Rosewood began last season 1-4, before reeling off nine consecutive wins on its way to a Carolina 1-A Conference championship, and a memorable playoff run that ended in a loss at Tarboro in the 1-A East finals.

A win over a solid Northside-Pinetown squad that is a one-point loss at North Duplin (4-0) from being unbeaten, would certainly be another positive step in the right direction.

“I think the level of competition that we’ve played in the non-conference is something Coach (Robert) Britt had established in the prior years,” Smith said. “It’s about being able to get up to game speed early, and I think being able to play the level of competition that we are during the non-conference helps us to be able to stay the course and to be able to continue to play fast. We don’t have to wait until the second half to adjust to game to speed, and we’re able to adjust right away because we’ve seen it. We’re playing really good caliber teams that have good athletes, and are very well coached and it’s all about continuing to get better each week, and hoping to give yourself a chance at the end of each game, and at the end of this season to get to either a conference championship or to a state championship.”