PHS Gridders Head South to Richmond
A Pinecrest football team coming off arguably its toughest loss in coach Chris Metzger’s four years at the school takes on fourth-ranked Richmond Senior tonight in Rockingham.
Led by junior Bryan Vancleave, playing quarterback for the first time in his Patriot career, the Patriots nearly overcame a 16-0 second-half deficit at Purnell Swett last week.
They twice made it inside the Ram 10-yard line with a chance to take the lead, but got only a field goal by Dillon Maples for their efforts.
“We’ve ripped off the rear-view mirror, but without a doubt in 19 years it was one of the toughest situations I’ve seen a team in,” Metzger said about a game that included eight turnovers by the offense. “The great part of it is they’re bouncing back. They know they have another game to play against a Richmond team that has a history and has been nearly invincible. It’s an awesome opportunity.”
The Patriots are 0-3 in the Southeastern Conference after winning all six of their non-league contests. The only loss for the 8-1 and 3-0 Raiders came against No. 1 ranked Charlotte Butler.
The last two meetings between the teams have been high-scoring affairs.
The Patriots shocked the Raiders 31-28 on homecoming night in Rockingham in 2008. They led 35-34 in the third quarter last season before the Raiders ripped off 35 points in a row in a 69-35 loss.
Walter Ellerbe, who scored six touchdowns for the Raiders in that game, is already well over the 1,000-yard mark in yards gained this season.
Quarterback Laron Ellerbe and running back Stephen Houston are other big factors in a powerful rushing game.
The Patriots have not demonstrated the fire power to trade points with the Raiders as they did the past two years. Their air game has been almost nonexistent and they now face a Raider defense that held Lumberton’s strong running game to 108 yards on 38 carries last week.
Damion Pride continues to lead the Patriot ball carriers with 814 yards on 110 carries and 10 touchdowns.
The injury situation that has contributed to the Patriot difficulties since league action began did not get any better after the physical game at Purnell Swett. But Kyle Ocheltree is expected to return at quarterback.
Metzger will be looking for a defense that recovered three fumbles and intercepted two passes last week to come up with more takeaways.
“The kids who are healthy are going to give it all they’ve got,” the coach said. “A lot of kids stepped up last week and they’re going to have to again this week.”
Contact Charlie Bergmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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