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Bland reinvigorates culture of success

FRI. | 04-23-21 | SPORTS

     In Will Bland’s first year as varsity head football coach, he has led the team to an undefeated regular season. The team finished 6-1 and was a powerhouse through their conference, being crowned regular season conference champions after defeating South Central on Mar 31. Bland started coaching Rose football in 2008 as the junior varsity (JV) head coach, and took the job as head varsity coach this past year.

     Bland coached several undefeated seasons as JV head coach. Bland has continued his streak in reaching yet another undefeated regular season only this time at the varsity level. Even with COVID-19 protocols, he was able to get his players ready for this season. However, Bland has made a few changes; he hired defensive coordinator Stephan Lovett.

     “I knew I wanted to have our defense be very aggressive and as soon as I got the job, I offered Coach Lovett,” Bland said. “He has done a great job thus far.”

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Photo by Jack Vick

     On the offensive side of the ball, Bland chose to hire a new coordinator: Caleb King, who played football with Bland at East Carolina University (ECU).

     “His history and his records speak volumes,” Bland said. “He knows how to adjust against different defences and put points on the board.”

     Bland really focuses on connecting with his players both on and off the field, whether it’s sitting down watching game footage in the field house or just chilling in his classroom. Rose started their season with a matchup against the New Bern Bears. Rose came out and won the game behind running back Michael Allen who ran for 133 yards in route to a 54-7 victory.

     “My favorite moment thus far was going out and being able to handle New Bern the way we did,” Bland said.

     Senior Julian Long, a defensive end/safety for the team, was elated after winning the Eastern Carolina 3A/4A conference title for the first time in 14 years. Long has played all four years of his high school career with one of his seasons under former head football coach David Wojtecki.

     “Coach Bland and Coach Wojtecki are very similar,” Long said. “They both are competitive and want to win, and want to see us succeed.”

     Senior captain and quarterback Wade Jarman leads the state in passing yards per game this year and thinks that the changes that have taken place were better for the team.

     “The culture of the football team is more positive, and there is no more negative energy,” Jarman said.

     Rose football placed as a number four seed in the NCHSAA 3AA playoffs despite their undefeated season and being number one in their conference. The Rampants faced off against a talented Lee County Yellow Jackets team at home on Friday, April 16, falling 36-28 ending their 2020-2021 campaign.

     After the game head coach WIll bland addressed his 21 seniors.

     "Even though we came up short in our goal, I’m thankful and will never forget the faith and trust they bestowed on me when becoming the head coach.”

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