BEAUFORT — B.J. Frazier hopes he won’t have to play on the scout team anymore as he enters his third season as the East Carteret football coach.

The former Appalachian State wide receiver got on the practice field plenty last season when the Mariners’ roster whittled down to the low-20s due to injuries late in the year.

“We’ve averaged about 26 to 27 this summer, and I think as it gets closer to school, we may top out at about 34 to 35 kids, which is 10 to 11 more than what we had last year, which means I don’t have to play scout team,” Frazier said.

Despite the low numbers, East went 8-5 and earned the county championship with wins over West Carteret and Croatan. The team advanced to the second round of the 1A state playoffs.

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MOREHEAD CITY — West Carteret will nearly start from scratch in the fifth year of the Daniel Barrow era.

The Patriots football team returns just one starter apiece on offense and defense. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, Barrow has been here before.

“My first year, we had to replace virtually everybody on both sides of the ball,” he said. “We lost the entire defense that year. This is a different circumstance. We had a small team that first year. Most of the numbers were on JV. We have a lot to choose from this year, a lot of solid guys and a bigger team. I think we’re going to be all right.”

Among Barrow’s optimism is the offensive machine that has been the Patriots over the past few years will continue. The team averaged 32 points per game in 2017 and 27.4 points per game in 2016. Those teams went 8-4 and 7-5, respectively. Last year’s squad went 6-6 and averaged 22.3 points per game.

The Patriots have averaged numbers in the mid-50s at summer workouts and expect to have nearly 90 in the program, including the junior varsity.

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OCEAN — Croatan will take the gridiron with the most experienced team in the county this year, and its head coach will benefit from another year of experience as well.

Andrew Gurley is 40 days away from beginning his second year on the sideline as the man in charge after a standout rookie campaign.

The Cougars finished second in the 1A/2A Coastal 8 Conference with a 5-2 league mark, hosted their first-ever home playoff game and advanced to the second round for just the second time in school history.

“I feel more comfortable heading into year two,” said Gurley who served as an assistant coach at Croatan for 11 years before succeeding David Perry. “I knew what to expect, but there were some things I didn’t see coming last year. Now I definitely know what to expect. I’ll manage time better. It was mostly administrative stuff. Coaching is the easy part.”

Fifteen starters – seven on offense and eight on defense – return from a team that started 0-4 but then finished the season on a 6-2 run to end 6-6. Croatan has practiced three days a week this summer with turnout averaging in the mid-40s.

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MOREHEAD CITY — The Morehead City Marlins got a potential postseason preview of the second round of the Petitt Cup Playoffs on Friday, and it wasn’t a pretty sight.

The Fish (24-10 overall) fell to the Wilson Tobs 12-5, their second defeat to the North Division frontrunners. The Tobs improved to 17-14 with the victory.

The Coastal Plain League’s postseason pits the East Division against the North Division in the second round of the playoffs. The Marlins have handled the rest of their North Division opponents with ease. They are 5-1 against the Edenton Steamers (17-15), out-scoring them 42-21 and 3-1 over the Peninsula Pilots (16-17) with a 32-23 advantage. The Marlins have no scheduled contests with the Martinsville Mustangs (14-21) this season.

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(For complete stories of these briefs, see the newsstand and home delivery edition or the full online e-edition.)

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