Football Teams on the Road Tonight
If local high school football fans want to catch one of the season opening games on tap tonight, they are going to have to take to the road.
The 2012 football campaign gets under way tonight with Pinecrest traveling to Jack Britt in Fayetteville, Union Pines heading to Southwestern Randolph in Asheboro, and North Moore heading to Monroe, where it will face Union Academy. All the games are nonconference encounters and start at 7:30 p.m.
The Patriots face a tough job in their encounter with Jack Britt.
Britt handed Pinecrest a 28-14 loss last season, a season that ended for the Bucs with a Mid-South Conference championship and a journey through the playoffs that ended in the Eastern Regional championship game.
The Bucs are touted this year as a team that might make another long playoff run. In the NC-Preps.com preseason poll, Jack Britt is the fourth-ranked team in 4-A.
One noticeable difference in the Bucs is the departure of longtime coach Richard Bailey, who left to take the head coaching job at Scotland High School. Brian Rimpf has taken over the reins of the Buccaneers program.
One thing that hasn’t changed for the Bucs is the quarterback position, where Mark McRae returns for his senior season. McRae was a thorn in the side of the Patriots in last season’s opener. He tossed an 81-yard touchdown pass and scored one himself on a three-yard run. He finished the game with 165 yards passing on four completions. For the season, McRae finished with 2,293 yards passing and 22 touchdown tosses.
Vikings in Asheboro
Union Pines fell to Southwestern Randolph last season by a 34-14 score. The Cougars are a team that likes to run the ball, and they did that quite well in last year’s contest.
The Cougars battered the Vikings for 355 yards last season on 50 carries. The chief batterer was Darius Martin, who scored four of the Cougars’ five touchdowns in that contest and finished with 183 yards on just 18 carries. The bad news for the Vikings is that Martin is returning for his senior season as a Cougar.
Mustangs Face Cards
North Moore will have to guard against a repeat of last year’s game when the Mustangs fell behind by two touchdowns in the opening minutes of the contest.
“They (Union Academy) scored on the first play of the game and then held us to a three-and-out and scored when they got the ball back on their second possession,” said North Moore head coach Greg Simmons, who is starting his third season at the helm. “We’ll try not to have a repeat of that happening this year. If it does, then we have to learn to keep our composure.”
One of the reasons the Mustangs got behind so quickly was running back Rasheed Rushing, who scored four touchdowns in that contest while rushing for 123 and hauling in three passes for 149 yards. Rushing is considered one of the top athletes at the 1-A level, having been named to NCPreps. com’s preseason 1A All-State team.
He put up some big numbers last year when he rushed for 1,531 yards on 151 carries, averaging 10 yards per carry. He scored 17 touchdowns and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.
The host Cardinals will be starting their fourth season of fielding a football team and have shown progress each of the previous three seasons. Last year, Union went 6-6 overall and 2-5 in the Rocky River 1-A/2-A Conference. They qualified for the state 1A playoffs and won their first round contest against Robbinsville. They lost in the second round to eventual state champion Murphy.
The Cardinals are looking to improve on last year’s conference and overall records and advance further in the playoffs than the second round.
“We were able to watch them scrimmage last week, and they have some good size and are very athletic,” said Simmons. “They have some good skill guys and are a very solid team.”
The Cardinals have some talented players in the defensive secondary along with returning starting linebackers Devin Black and Joe Malone. Malone led the team with 107 tackles while Black tallied 66 tackles and had two sacks. The Cardinals have a couple of ball hawkers in the secondary with backs Seth Joyner and Antonio James.
Union Academy have a couple of senior linemen, Cole Pressley and Alex Elliott, both of whom tip the scales around the 250-pound range. They also have a pair of sophomores, Tyler Chambers and Ollin Austin, who match the weights of Pressley and Elliott.
The Mustangs will be coming in with a veteran squad with many seniors starting their final season.
Sports Editor Hunter Chase contributed to this article.
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