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South Robeson football coach changes up offense
and defense for upcoming season

By Robert Kelly
Guest Writer

South Robeson High School head football coach Barry Leonard is especially looking forward to the start of the 2006 season after back-to-back disappointing seasons.

Following a 4-7 record in the 2004 season, the Mustangs went 1-9 in the 2005 campaign. Only winning five games in two seasons has Leonard motivated to show his critics that the school's historic run to the state finals in 2002 was no fluke.

Even though the team remained competitive well into the second half of many of the nine losses, the Mustangs youth showed, with all but four players being underclassman.

Having to deal with being at a coaching disadvantage during the 2005 season, the Mustangs should be better prepared for their 11 games next season with a new coaching staff, being led by Leonard who will be back for his fifth season with the school.

Having called both offensive and defensive plays for the past three seasons, Leonard will abolish this, and entrust the defense solely to the defensive coordinator, who has yet to be named.

Only posting five wins in two seasons may have some people feeling the pressure to win, but when asked, Coach Leonard just shrugged it off.

"The pressure I feel comes from within. Now, if I go 1-9 again, then there might be some outside pressure.”

Coaching for a school that just had its head basketball coach and athletic director resign, Leonard still feels that he has a firm grasp on his position.

Even though the coach would not comment on a number of wins he would expect for the upcoming season, he feels that he just wants to improve, whether in wins or losses, or just in effort and his teams play execution.

"Improving on play execution and effort from the seniors can be a very positive influence on the younger players on the team," he said.

A historically conservative coach, Leonard opened up his playbook in 2005, instituting a shotgun formation in the final game and is expected to have a few tricks up his sleeve for the upcoming season.

"I want to try some trick plays, something, anything, to get the offense back to where we were a few seasons ago," he said.

"We are putting in a more spread offense to create more big plays and open things up."

Rowland, N.C., may be a low-income area, but with a field house, good equipment, a weight room to go along with a new coaching staff, Leonard is very optimistic for the 2006 season, which includes a lot of senior players who want to go out of their high school careers on a very positive note.

The season begins with a home game vs. Hobbton high school on Aug. 18.

The team’s training sessions began early this year on Feb. 1.


The University of North Carolina at Pembroke The print edition of The Pine Needle
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Updated: Wednesday, March 29, 2006
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