Vikes, Pats Scrimmage, Renew Rivalry
Wednesday at Union Pines, a severe thunderstorm cut short the weekly Vike 7-on-7 Go Deep Passing League, but not before the Pinecrest Patriots and Viking football teams strapped on the helmets and completed a compelling competition.
It was the first time the two Moore County schools had been on the same field since last year's epic Battle of the Pines VII.
In that game, Pinecrest took a 21-0 lead and then held on, dodging two major bullets to beat the Vikings 33-27 in front of 4,200 fans at Woodrow Wilhoit Stadium.
While Wednesday's half-hour scrimmage between the Pats and Vikes was neither an epic nor a battle, there was still a certain buzz surrounding the 50-yard practice field that indicated intensity unusual for high school football in early July.
Several players from last year's squads crowded the sidelines to watch the action along with Pinecrest alumnus James Baldwin.
The former MLB All-Star pitcher sat in a lawn chair as his son, James Baldwin III, caught passes from the wideout position for the Patriots.
After the last play ended, the two teams were all smiles, shaking hands, trading embraces and partaking in some friendly trash talk.
Vike head coach Jason Furrie and Pat head coach Chris Metzger spoke about the rivalry.
"It is always a big deal when the two of us go at it." said Furrie. "The kids all like to have bragging rights, and I thought we looked pretty good and Pinecrest looked pretty good out there too."
In fact, Furrie enjoys the rivalry and everything that goes along with it.
"A rivalry game is a rivalry game. It is always a big game and we need to embrace that at this school (Union Pines). It is good for us, it is good for Pinecrest and it is good for our county. That is big for football here, and without rivalries there is no football."
Metzger says that the Patriots want to win every game and approach each contest like it is the Super Bowl.
"It is awesome to be a part of this rivalry," he said, "but every game for us is a rivalry where we are. We are just trying to build a tradition."
However, Metzger was glad to be able to bring his team out to Union Pines.
"We just want to get out here and compete," he said.
"We are very appreciative of coach Furrie for organizing this thing. It is a heck of a deal and they do a great job. Everybody is out here having fun and getting better is the key for us, we just want to get better."
While Pinecrest will compete in a total of just three 7-on-7 passing league events throughout the summer, Union Pines as a host of a league, takes part in competition once to twice a week.
"So far things have been going good with the passing league," Furrie said.
"We have had good turnouts and we have gotten the chance to see several different teams. I think teams that come here enjoy it and I have had coaches call me every year to make sure they can take part.
"That being said, 7-on-7 is good and bad. It is good because it gets you running and helps the players and coaches knowing your systems and such. However, sometimes it can cause players to become over-confident and think that because they can catch a ball, throw a ball and two-hand tag that they can play football. Really this is a totally different game and it is hard to totally evaluate any football player on a 7-on-7 field, especially when you are the type of team we are that is going to hit you in the mouth (on) every play.
"I know Coach Metzger said his team is a little green, so Pinecrest has been more worried about running and lifting, and we do all that too, but we also enjoy throwing the ball around and making it fun."
Metzger feels his team has come a long way since the first summer practice.
"We have big numbers and the kids are just doing a great job," he said, "and we have such good team work across the board that it really lets us enjoy it all even more. We were blessed to go to the Appalachian State University Camp. We had a great time there and then we are going to a few more team functions, which we are excited about."
The Vikings will attend their team camp from Aug. 10-16 in Hendersonville, at Camp Kanuga.
While there, Union Pines will benefit from three live-action scrimmages with West Hendersonville, Tuscola High and Patton High.
On Wednesday, Pinecrest also scrimmaged against E.E. Smith, while Union Pines lined up with Lee Senior before weather halted play.
The teams will meet next Wednesday in a final preseason preview to the Battle of the Pines VIII, which takes place at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29 at Pinecrest.
Contact F.W. Manning by e-mail at email@example.com.
More like this story