Pats Claim Football Tourney Title
Just a day after returning from a challenging four-day camp at Appalachian State, the Pinecrest football team showed it had plenty left in its tank.
The Patriot A squad started out with a loss and a tie on Saturday morning in the third annual Patriot Air Raid Classic Passing Tournament. Then they won six games in a row, including a 16-6 victory over Durham Hillside to become the champions of the eight-team competition.
A Patriot B team made up of mostly underclassmen was created when one of the other invited teams did not show up. It pulled a stunning upset in the first elimination round to become one of the semifinalists.
"We're really proud of the kids and their efforts," Pinecrest coach Chris Metzger said afterward. "To have two teams out here and both of them make the semifinals was really great."
The tough field included 2008 4-AA runner-up Jack Britt, 4-A runner-up Douglas Byrd, 4-A semifinalist Durham Hillside, Union Pines, Carrboro and East Chapel Hill. The 30 minute 7-on-7 games were played on four 40-yard fields on the practice area of the Pinecrest campus. Teams were awarded six points for a touchdown and two for an interception.
After its initial struggles in the first two games, rising senior quarterback Ben Williams led the Patriots to three straight wins. They scored on about 15 possessions in a row in the process with Harrison Deen, Patrick Moore, Darian Harris, Zach Christian, Damien Decatur, Rapheal Alston, Ryan Mullins and Kyle Ocheltree among those taking turns making catches.
Experienced defenders Darion Hailey, Jyhe Utley and Trent Fredericks helped shut down the opposition. The home team finished the morning at 3-1-1, giving it the third seed for the afternoon's elimination rounds.
"We all executed," Williams said when asked about the remarkable almost mistake-free run. "Everybody was running their routes right and playing hard the whole time."
The Patriot B team went 0-5 in the morning and drew the first seed, Carrboro, to begin elimination play. Carrboro was also one of the teams that attended the Appalachian State camp with the Patriots.
Rising sophomore Travis Scales engineered Pinecrest B's double-overtime upset that included some outstanding grabs by Marshall Smith. An interception by Steve Kennedy ended Carrboro's hopes and put the Patriot B's into a semifinal match-up against the Patriot A's.
With the temperature in the high 90s, the Patriot A squad defeated East Chapel and Pinecrest B to advance to the championship game. Durham Hillside defeated Jack Britt in the other semifinal.
"This is helping us get better," said Harris, a rising senior tight end who missed most of last season with a knee injury. "A couple of state runner-ups are out here. It feels good to be here and just pushing on."
Neither team scored on its first two possessions with Hailey and Fredericks intercepting Hillside passes. But, the third time the Pats had the ball, Williams lofted about a 35-yard pass on fourth down toward Utley in the end zone. On the spectacular scoring play, Utley caught the ball while airborne as he was pushed out of the end zone by defenders.
Ocheltree also scored on about a 30-yard pass and run before Hillside got into the end zone on the final play of the game.
"What a great workout," Metzger said to his players afterward. "Who got better?"
One of the sponsors of the event, Elite Athletic Events, provided all of the participants with receiver's gloves and T-shirt. The NFL and National Guard were other major sponsors.
"Everybody was playing a bunch of kids and getting them reps," Metzger said. "It was good to have it end this way. It's about competing and having some energy, and that's what really excites us."
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