ROSEPINE – Over the past years, Rosepine has been through more downs than ups, but the Eagles are in the driver's seat in the district as their offense evolves.
Rosepine will be tested this week against undefeated Lakeside in its homecoming game Friday night.
"They're very athletic and like to throw the ball a lot," head coach Brad Ducote said. "They are good on both sides of the ball. They're just a very good football team. They have put up a lot of points in the first three games and have not given up a lot. We have our work cut out for us."
Lakeside quarterback Jordan Pruett has 487 passing yards with seven touchdowns this year, to go along with 161 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Warriors offense runs out of a shotgun spread formation with athletes all over the field.
"They throw both the deep ball and short ball well," Brad Ducote said. " We have packages to stop the deep ball, but they throw the bubble screen and quick routes well. They have athletes that can do things when they catch it. That bothers a little more than the deep stuff right now.
"Our best defense is going to be our offense. Our goal is to sustain 15-play drives and take time off the clock. If we execute, we have to do that."
Lakeside averages 53.4 points per game on offense while giving up 18 points a game.
The Eagles will counter by putting the ball in the hands of its two big-time playmakers: quarterback Seth Shirley and running back Seth Ducote.
"It relaxes you a little bit. You know when you call their number, you're going to get something positive," Brad Ducote said. "Knock on wood, they are both healthy, and hopefully, stay healthy. I put a lot of stock in the two. Our big tight end is coming around, and my two wide receivers had big games last week. They can't just lock in on them two. They are going to key in on them two, but our other guys are good."
Ducote has 409 passing yards this season and 430 rushing, while Shirley has racked up 382 rushing yards.
"It's good because we have different options for running the ball," Shirley said. "We work together.
"I feel like we're better this year than we were last year, definitely."
Ducote's role behind center has expanded from last season and his pass attempts keep increasing as teams focus on shutting down the run.
"Not a lot of people know us for throwing the ball more than five times a game, but last week, I had 216 yards or something like that," Seth Ducote said. "We had to do it because the ground game wasn't working in the first half.
"All of our passes come off a read, so it helps me out a lot. I'm not used to throwing the ball every other play."
The Rosepine defense is giving up 12 points a game, led by linebacker Scott Wisby.
Wisby moved from defensive end to linebacker during the offseason and is still adjusting to the new role.
"He's gotten better week by week," Brad Ducote said. "His fills are quicker to get to the back. He's done a steady job the first three games, but every game, he's made strides. This week, he will have to play against the pass more than we would like him to.
"He's got to see more of the field. He's responsible for more of the field."
The Eagles went 11-2 last season but came into 2017 on a 20-game losing streak, so the guys on the team remember what it was like not too long ago.
"I try to keep them humble," Brad Ducote said. "I'm a very humble person, and I learned years ago that you never take anything for granted. That's hard to stress on your kids. They're full of confidence, and I tell them all the time to not be overconfident.
"Those kids have been through the 0-10s and 1-9s. They've been there. When I remind them of that, I think it triggers a response. They know it wasn't a long time ago and they can go back."