Lights Shine Bright on First Friday Night
Among the early arrivals for Friday's football opener at the John Williams Athletic Complex were the Pinecrest cheerleaders coached by Gayle Mace.
"We are really trying to get the crowd spiritually into this program and make this season fun," she said.
There are 18 varsity and 14 junior varsity cheerleaders this season. In July, most of them attended the Spirit Express Camp at UNC in Chapel Hill along with about 350 from other schools.
Mace says that the Patriot cheerleaders model their work after the Tarheel cheerleaders and coaches that train them at camp. She appreciates that the focus is on safety while they are learning various stunts.
Mary Catherine Wilkison, one of three seniors captains along with Kensley Leonard and Ashley Fox, was looking forward to starting another season off with a victory over Cardinal Gibbons. She likes the chemistry of the squad.
"We get along really well, and there is not much drama with this squad," she said. "Everyone is willing to work together and listen to each other's input. After the camp and all the practices, it's always good to see the fruits of that at the game."
The implementation of a new security system at the ticket gates resulted in many fans getting to their seats late. Pinecrest principal Joel County says the number of scanners will be increased from two to three to accommodate the large crowd anticipated for next Friday's game against Union Pines.
With the increase in attendance at games, security becomes an increasing thing, and we want to make sure safety is No. 1," he said.
Fans are encouraged to come early for the Union Pines game that is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. The gates will open at 6 p.m.
One of the most exciting defensive plays in football is the blocked punt. A second quarter block by Darion Hailey set up the Dillon Maples field goal that gave the Patriots a 17-0 lead.
"I had to fight them to get through," Hailey said. "It was my first block and it felt good."
With Cardinal Gibbons just three-points behind for most of the second half, the Patriots desperately needed to establish a running game. The first half output was only 40 yards on 12 carries.
Jamel Verbal gained 61 yards on 11 attempts after the intermission, and Damien Decatur chipped in with 39 on five carries. On the Patriots' final possession, they combined to eat up 47 yards in a 54 yard drive that led to another field goal by Maples.
"I just told the line to step it up," Verbal said. "All I need is a block one block, and I can get us a first down. We were running the ball on both sides."
The Pinecrest defense forced Cardinal Gibbons to punt on nine of its 13 possessions, including the block and a fumbled snap that turned the ball over on downs. The Patriots punted the ball twice and also had one blocked.
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