Patriots Sign on the Dotted Line
Six members of the Pinecrest football team proudly stepped up to the podium to announce their college intentions during a national signing day ceremony held in the school’s auditorium Wednesday afternoon.
Three others have already completed their course work at Pinecrest and are now second semester students at the colleges of their choice. Bryce Kennedy, Steven Pollard and Travis Scales spoke to the audience of teammates, family members and friends via videos.
Kennedy, who received a total of 15 scholarship offers, is going to N.C. State after originally making a verbal commitment to UNC. He reconsidered after the coaching change was made in Chapel Hill.
The 6-foot-3, 285-pound all-state selection was the first Pinecrest player to participate in the North Carolina – South Carolina Shrine game. A student with a 4.0 GPA, he plans to pursue a career in medicine.
According to Pinecrest coach Chris Metzger, three-year starters Pollard and Scales were a part of more varsity wins (22) than any other players in the history of the school. Pollard, a 6-3, 245-pound center and two-time all-conference selection, joins two other former Patriots, Josh Scales and Blade Shoop, at Fayetteville State.
“Playing football at Pinecrest has so far been the best time I’ve ever had,” the psychology major said in the video. “I’ve learned so much.”
Quarterback Travis Scales, who ran and passed for more than 2,000 yards last season, is continuing his career at Lenoir-Rhyne. He is a brother of Josh Scales, and Dee Kirkpatrick, another of one of Wednesday’s Patriot signees. He noted the progress of the football program during his four years at Pinecrest to where it now earns enough wins to qualify for the playoffs on a regular basis.
The signing class includes three other members of the Patriot offensive line.
Metzger described St. Augustine’s College-bound Jerod McKenzie as a vocal leader who also challenged others to lead. An honorable mention all-conference selection, he plans to study engineering with the long-term goal of becoming an architect.
Mitch Monska, another of the team’s vocal leaders, and an all-conference honorable mention selection, gets to be part of the excitement of the new football program at UNC-Charlotte that begins play in 2013.
“It’s the only place I wanted to go because I know what I want to be when I grow up,” the aspiring oral surgeon said.
Tyler Conley, another member of an offensive line that may have been one of the strongest ever at Pinecrest, also signed with Lenoir-Rhyne, the defending Division II South Atlantic Conference champions.
Like Scales, he was impressed by an atmosphere at the school in Hickory that seemed to mirror what he experienced at Pinecrest — not just a team, but a family.
“Go hard and love it every day,” he told the underclassmen in the audience. “Make the day count, don’t count the days.”
Three players are going to junior colleges with historically successful programs as a stepping stone to eventually playing at four-year schools.
Defensive back David Alston signed with Louisburg College. He also talked about the family aspect of the team and thanked the coaches for helping him develop discipline.
Big play linebackers Dee Kirkpatrick and Julius Steele are going to Rochester Community and Technical College in Minnesota. Both missed time because of injuries last season, but Steele finished with 78 tackles, including three forced fumbles and two-and-a-half sacks. Kirkpatrick racked up 48 tackles, including 10 for losses, and had three sacks.
Metzger told the juniors that he hoped they would want to be on the stage next year. Asked what stood out about this class of seniors, he didn’t hesitate in his response. After finishing 10-3 in 2009 and 7-5 in 2010, the team upgraded its non-league schedule and dropped to 5-7 last fall.
“According to every rating system, our schedule was the toughest and they were undaunted by it,” the coach said. “They were a product of their own success. Because we couldn’t find games, we had to play the best. Week in and week out, they did the best they could and did a great job with it. From a weight room standpoint, this was by far our strongest team.”
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