Can Anyone Stop Rose?
by Josh Spence

It’s been 32 games and more than two years since the JH Rose football team lost a football game.  With Saturday's 52-12 win over New Bern, a.k.a. the only team with a shot at the Rampants, Rose completed yet another undefeated season. 

There was some talk about the Rampants potentially moving into the 4-AA ranks for the playoffs, but it didn’t happen.  Basically, the high school playoffs in North Carolina are split into a total of eight divisions.  Each class one through four, is divided into two portions 1-A, and 1AA, the larger schools represented in AA. 

Rose has won 3 consecutive state titles at the 4-A ranks while Charlotte Independence as well as New Bern both compete in the 4-AA brackets. 

That being said I don’t think anyone can stop Rose from making it four straight.  The Rampants are just too good and here are the top 5 reasons why:

1:  Balance.  The Rampants have built success by a great game-plan that emphasizes balance.  No one feature of the game is any more important than another.  Averaging over 50 points per game the Rose offense is easily the best in the area.  However the offense has been aided, and in turn has itself aided the defense and special teams.  The Rampants are as good as anyone on special teams and got two key returns in the first half of the New Bern ball game that made a good game turn into a blowout.  The defense speaks for itself.  By far the toughest in the area, and through 11 games Rose is allowing just over 7 points a game.

2.  Jonathan Williams.  Need I say more?  The kid is incredible.  One of the toughest runners you will ever see, yet he still manages a great deal of speed.  He’s one of the hardest players to bring down and he’s not only great on offense but a serious threat to take it all the way anytime he touches the ball in the return game.  He would be playing more defense if they needed him.  Move over Andre Brown, and Maurice Weaver, Williams may be the best of the three.  Well over 2,000 yards this season he is averaging a lofty number somewhere around 250 yards per game.  He cemented his place in Rampant history with a school record 391 yard 6 TD performance against Rocky Mount earlier this year.

3.  Leadership.  Williams is a part of this too, but over the last several years Rose has grown leaders.  I mean think about it, with three straight state titles, the current Rampants know nothing but Championships.  There’s a good portion of this squad that has never lost a game.  Year in and year out this team has someone else step up as the on the field leader.  Brian Blick almost goes without mentioning.  The Senior quarterback has earned his teammates respect on the field with his great decision making and ability to make plays, but also off the field, in the weight room in particular.  Josiah Andrews, Bryan Deans, Jameson Bryant, Malcolm Blount, Max Joyner just to name a few, but the list goes on.

4.  Coaching.  A large amount of the Rose success has to go to the players.  After all it’s the players out their on the field.  However, I think it’s safe to say that this team would not be where they are today without Greg Thomas and his coaching staff.  Its an all-star staff of coaches who have been in the area and know what it takes to win.  Sometimes its easy to second guess and question coaching calls from a viewers stand point, but consistently this group is making the right call.  Players always seem to be in the right place at the right time, and this goes back to the balance issue, don’t think it happened by mistake.  Oh and, these guys aren’t afraid to throw out a trick play.  Fake punts, end around passes, these calls always seem to happen at the right time for the Rampants.  It certainly hasn’t cost them.  Well in the last 32 games that is.

5.  Playoff Schedule.  Sorry folks, but I said it.  I left it last for a reason, but the Rampants schedule has a huge impact on their success.  But don’t get me wrong, this team has earned every bit of it.  The Rampants are the number one seed thanks to an undefeated season.  Therefore Rose will be at home throughout the playoffs until the State Championship game December 9th inside Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium.  This also means that the Rampants have the easiest road to that championship game, opening with the lowest (16th) seed, and having the benefit of not playing the number two seed until the championship game.  Rose has received some negative press for the mixed 3A/4A conference they are in.  Five of their games each year are against technically lesser competition giving Rose a better chance than others at earning that number one seed.  However you can’t hold it against the Rampants.  It wasn’t Greg Thomas that aligned the conferences this way.  Not to mention the fact that Rose played an extremely difficult non-conference schedule against some of the best teams on this side of I-95, and didn’t even flinch. 

Josh Spence