Patriots Wary of History Repeating Itself
In the Pinecrest locker room following last Friday's 27-14 win over West Johnston, linebacker Manny Sheppard provided a word of caution about the team's 4-0 start.
The senior reminded everyone that last year's squad also won its first four. In week five, the Patriots fell behind 28-8 in the fourth quarter at Douglas Byrd before rallying to make the final outcome a 28-21 loss.
A Patriot football team has not gotten off to a 5-0 start since the 1984 squad coached by Burgin Beale accomplished the feat. The Class of 1984 (along with 1989) is one of those getting together for tonight's Homecoming Night game against Western Harnett.
The kickoff at the John Williams Athletic Complex is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Both front gates will be open to accommodate the anticipated large crowd.
Western Harnett, a member of the 3A Cape Fear Valley Conference, does not possess the impressive recent resume of the Byrd squad that went on to make it to the 4A state championship game where it lost to Seventy-First. The Eagles have lost three games in a row after defeating Lee County 20-0 in their season opener. But, including Pinecrest, their last four opponents have a combined record of 15-1.
"They are a very dangerous team that we can't take lightly," Patriot coach Chris Metzger says. "They've got three game-breaking players, a quarterback, a running back and a receiver. They've got a defense that is doing a lot of good things blitzing a lot."
Quarterback Franklin Trapp has completed 34 of 75 passes for 496 yards, three touchdowns and been intercepted eight times. Running back Shaun McLean, who will occasionally take a direct snap in a wildcat formation, has gained 316 yards on 50 carries and scored three touchdowns.
The Western Harnett defense had been tough against the run until Triton rushed for 314 yards against an Eagle squad bitten by the flu bug in last week's 26-21 loss.
Led by Bret Toomer with 130 yards on 15 carries, the Patriot running game clicked for 260 yards in the win over West Johnston. Toomer (246), Damion Pride (244) and Raphael Alston (205) have all rushed for over 200 yards. Damien Decatur, who missed two games because of an injury, returned last week to gain 34 yards on eight carries.
Quarterback Ben Williams has completed 62.5 per cent of his passes (32-for-48) for 413 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception. James Baldwin is the leading receiver with 11 catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns.
West Johnston turned the ball over on its last three possessions against the opportunistic Patriot defense. Inside linebacker Trent Fredericks was involved in 15 tackles, adding to his team-high total of 57. Other leaders in that department are Sheppard (32), Blade Shoop and Jyhe Utley (29), Darion Hailey and Adam McDuffie (25), and Daniel Keith and Dillon Maples (24).
Pinecrest athletic director Ernie Purnsley was a member of the 1982 Pinecrest team, also coached by Beale, that started out 7-0. His brother, Netto, played on the 1984 team that won its first five.
The Patriots are ranked 18th this week in the Carolina Preps poll that covers all classifications.
Contact Charlie Bergmann at cbergmann at nc.rr.com.
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