PHS Football Extra Points: 'Greatest Show on Turf'
As respectful of the long-striking ability of New Hanover as the Pinecrest coaches were, it was the yards gained after catch on screen passes that did the Patriots in.
The shifty wideouts on a prep version of the “Greatest Show on Turf” (St. Louis Rams 1999-2001) typically had about a five-yard cushion on a single defensive back each time they caught one during Friday night’s 45-29 Patriot loss in Wilmington.
The Patriot D-backs did a nice job defending the medium and longer range passes, with Nick Lacey and Josiah Smith involved in several break-ups.
Some of the other highlights for the defense included a blocked extra point attempt by Frankie Painter and the end zone interception by Sam Brower that kept the Patriots in contention going into the second half.
In the Air: When a Wildcat defensive adjustment slowed down the Patriot ground game in the third period, quarterback Travis Scales broke out the long dormant Patriot passing game.
Some of the encouraging signs for the offense included four catches for 43-yards by talented wide receiver Traivon Williams who has not had a lot of balls thrown to him this season, and the touchdowns through the air by Steven Kennedy for 40 yards and Tavis Pearson for 57. Pearson also broke a run for 24.
Artificial Turf: The Patriots Chris Metzger had never done a game on artificial turf in some 15 years of coaching before stepping on New Hanover’s Legion Field. The city, county and school system reportedly shared in the $950,000 cost for surface that is estimated to last for 10 years. It is expected to be used for 55 or more events in the community per year.
Metzger and Patriot players Aaron Reimer and Zack Strickland gave it good reviews.
“It feels like your foot doesn’t dig in as far, but you can cut surprisingly well,” said Strickland, running back who darted his way to 57 yards on seven carries, including a touchdown. “It’s actually a lot softer (to fall on), but you do get rugs burns real bad. I like it a lot.”
A number of games in the region were postponed because of heavy rains, but the playing of this one was never in doubt. The ersatz grass was dry.
“It’s a lot safer because it has no ruts and it’s the same consistency all the way through,” New Hanover coach Kevin Motsinger said. “We love it. We love it.”
Helping Hands: One of the things that stood out in the game was players from both sides helping each other up. At the end, the head referee saw Metzger and Motsinger chatting and joined them to pay a compliment.
“He told us that it was one of the finest games he’d ever been a part of,” Metzger said.
Conference Play: Even though the Patriots go into conference play with a record of 3-3, after going 6-0 the previous two years, it’s a good bet they are better prepared for what’s ahead than they would have had the schedule not been upgraded substantially.
From a spectator standpoint, the games against Jack Britt, Barron Collier and New Hanover mirrored a lot of the excitement that comes with conference play.
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