Pats Show Well in Air Raid Classic
2011 Pinecrest Football Air Raid Classic
Pinecrest football hosted the 2011 Air Raid Classic, Saturday in Southern Pines. The Patriot's advanced to the semifinal round of the 7 -on- 7 pigskin tournament. Photos by Donna Ford.
Each summer since Chris Metzger came on the scene as head football coach in 2007, the Pinecrest Air Raid Classic has provided a snapshot of Patriot talent at the skilled positions.
The Patriots finished 7-1 in Saturday’s 16-team, 7-on-7 competition held at the Morganton Road Sports Complex. They were defeated 18-12 by Jack Britt in the semifinals. Scotland County prevailed 21-12 over the Buccaneers in the championship game.
While it marked the fifth annual Air Raid Classic for Pinecrest, this year’s event was the first annual Mel Kiper Jr. 7on7U N.C. state championship.
Returning from a knee injury that ended his junior season in the fifth game, quarterback Travis Scales gave every indication he is ready to have a big final year. The passing attack is expected to receive a boost from 6-foot-3, 205-pound wide receiver Traivon Williams, who is playing football for the first time since his freshman year. The rising senior combined with Scales to score 11 touchdowns during the marathon event.
Defensive highlights for the Patriots included three interceptions apiece by D.J. Simpson and David Alston.
“The big thing was we had all new people at every position except tight end, with Michael Johnson, and Travis at quarterback,” Metzger said during the lunch break at the Little Patriots Football Camp on Monday. “We wanted to see what the kids could do, and they really did a great job.”
Taking the place of three teams that backed out of the event were the Patriot B and C teams, quarterbacked by Eli Black and Aaron Reimer.
The Patriot A squad went into the afternoon’s single elimination phase of the competition with wins over Fairmont, Cape Fear, Broughton, Granville Central and Scotland B.
They defeated Southern Lee and Granville Central before meeting the coming season’s opening week opponent Jack Britt in a semifinal contest.
The Pats took a 12-0 lead before the Bucs scored 18 unanswered points in a row.
Getting ready for some more 7-on-7 competition early Tuesday morning, Scales winced at the memory of Jack Britt’s comeback, but was very happy to be playing again.
“I’ve been missing it ever since my season ended last year,” he said. “We’ve got some pretty good wide receivers. Last year’s were good — this year’s are a little faster.”
Scales led the team in sacks as an outside linebacker when he was a sophomore, but got a chance to throw to star wide receiver James Baldwin III in practice. Williams, who was the second-leading rebounder on the Patriot basketball team that finished 24-5 last season, offers some of the same qualities as Baldwin, now playing baseball in the farm system of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“He brings a whole other thing to the offense, I guess,” Scales said. “If you don’t have anything, you can just throw it up to him.”
Williams was an outside linebacker for the Patriot freshman team in 2008. According to Metzger, college coaches already have him on their radar as a result of recent workouts at one-day college prospect camps.
Scales, a cousin, Jerod McKenzie, who is an offensive lineman for the Patriots, and other football-playing members of the basketball team all encouraged Williams to get back into football.
“I just saw a big opportunity,” he said. “I really connected with the football players on the basketball team and thought I found a new brotherhood. Honestly, I was very nervous throughout the whole day and even being here every day now. It was nerve-racking, but I felt comfortable catching the ball.”
D.J. Simpson, who scored a pair of touchdowns on defense last season, returns to a defensive backfield hit hard by graduation.
The rising senior is prepared to not only be a leader of the defense, but the team as a whole. He was encouraged by the Saturday’s performance that also included a key interception by Nick Lacey and strong efforts by linebackers Jonah Caliri, Julius Steele and Dee Kirkpatrick.
“It actually felt good because our strength is our running defense, and if we can guard the pass like that, it is going to be a great season,” Simpson said.
Among the other players Scales connected with for touchdowns were Johnson, Joe White, Tavis Pearson, Dwayne Simpson and James Harrison
Scotland topped Ben L. Smith 22-18 in the other semifinal game.
All four semifinal teams, including Pinecrest, qualified to compete in the Mel Kiper Jr. 7on7U National Championship, July 14-16, in Washington, D.C.
Contact Charlie Bergmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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