Friday Football Rolls Into Town Tonight
Not only do all three area football teams start their 2011 campaigns tonight, but all three also get to open with games in front of the home fans.
Pinecrest entertains highly regarded Jack Britt, while Union Pines starts with Southwestern Randolph. Down in the northern region of the county, North Moore starts its second season under head coach Greg Simmons against Union Academy out of Monroe.
All games start at 7:30 p.m.
Patriots Face Challenge
The Pinecrest football team will be a heavy underdog when it opens the season tonight against a Jack Britt squad that is ranked No. 4 in the Carolina Preps/NCPrepReport Top 25 Media Poll.
The Buccaneers, 11-2 a year ago, also have a big edge from a historical perspective, holding an 8-0 advantage over the Patriots. The last meeting between the teams in 2008 was a 54-0 victory for the Fayetteville team.
Starting his fifth season as head coach at Pinecrest, Chris Metzger (27-20) will be counting on senior quarterback Travis Scales and an experienced offensive line to lead an attack that minimizes the time on the field for a Buc offense that averaged 37 points per game last season.
Metzger got good news this week in the return of senior wide receiver Traivon Williams, who stood out in the summer 7-on-7 competition before injuring a collarbone.
“Traivon is going to play,” the coach said before practice on Wednesday. “It’s huge. When you get a guy like that back out there everybody else picks up.”
Williams will hopefully help provide some balance to the Patriots’ run-oriented offense. The Bucs’ diversified attack has two receivers in Jalen McDaniel and Kenny Jenkins, who combined to catch 55 passes for nine touchdowns in 2010.
Metzger describes his team as in good shape physically as it approaches a tough nonconference slate, beginning with a Jack Britt team that played in the 2008 and 2009 state championship games.
“We’ve gotten great production from the guys this week and great competition,” Metzger said. “Our guys definitely know what is at stake. Every year the first game is the Super Bowl, but obviously Jack Britt is the team that is used to being in the Super Bowl. They’re a great team — fundamentally sound — a scoring machine.”
‘High Energy’ Vikes Ready
The Union Pines Vikings hit the gridiron tonight against Southwestern Randolph at Woodrow Wilhoit Stadium in Cameron.
“We had a good week of practice with lots of high energy,” said Ryan Riggan, who begins his third season as the Vikings head football coach.
“This week one thing we have done that has been much improved, compared to other first weeks I have been here, is tackle better. We had quite a physical week of practice as well and saw some truly positive things.”
Last season Union Pines was 2-9 overall, 0-6 in 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference play, and banned from the 2010 postseason by the NCHSAA because of a “brawl” that broke out during a nonconference game at Pinecrest in week two.
Riggan admitted after the Vikes’ 2010 campaign that he “cannot wait” to take the field with his team to kick off the new season.
“It was a long season last year,” Riggan said, “but we put it behind us right when the season ended and got to work as soon as we could — hammering in the weight room.
“We actually had a great offseason. Ashley Taylor — a local strength and conditioning coach — came in and worked with us during the summer. She gave the weight room aspect a different feel and it was awesome.
“Her husband, Joe, works for Athlete’s Performance and has trained with some pretty big-time names. She presented us with the opportunity to separate the weight-room training from the coaching. This allowed the coaching staff to focus more on football, while the players got a break from having to deal with us riding them during both strength training and on the field at practice.”
The Southwestern Randolph Cougars, from Asheboro, are part of the 3-A Mid-Piedmont Conference. They finished with a record of 6-6 last season, after being ousted in the first round of the state playoffs.
Riggan admitted to liking the way his team matches up with the Cougars but is still looking for a good test Friday.
“Southwestern is a good 3-A football team,” he said. “They are going to come in here with a lot of energy after having gone to the playoffs for the first time in about (15 years) I think last year.
“We went and saw them scrimmage and they are fired up and have a lot of confidence. So we expect to see a team get off that bus that is ready to play and we better be ready, too.”
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