Former Patriots Return to Help Coach Team
Extra Points: Patriots Win Two
Extra Points: For more on the Patriots, click here.
As Pinecrest faced off against Scotland County in 7-on-7 passing competition Tuesday morning, two of the spectators reacting to every play of the intense affair were Damien Decatur and Manny Sheppard.
The 2010 graduates were members of the 2009 Patriot team that went 10-3. During their summer breaks from college, they are helping Patriot head coach Chris Metzger get the team ready for the coming season.
On an adjacent field at the Patriot practice complex were 2009 teammates Trent Fredericks and Daniel Keith. They were helping Ben Hammer and other assistant coaches in a passing scrimmage involving rising ninth- and 10th-graders.
“I say it all the time,” Sheppard said in between the games that also included Northwood and East Chapel Hill. “High school was like the highlight of my life to this date. I’m proud of being a part of a 10-3 team at Pinecrest.”
All four still burst with Patriot pride. And they seem to be on a track that will provide plenty of opportunities for more self-fulfillment in the future.
Wearing a National Guard T-shirt, Sheppard is heading for Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri next week for basic training. When he returns, he’ll resume attending college at North Carolina A&T as a sophomore.
After graduation from Pinecrest, Sheppard and Decatur went to Victor Valley Community College in California to play football, but didn’t stay.
“I’ve always been interested in the military, but wanted to play college football,” Sheppard says. “When I get back from basic, I’ll go to school in the spring. They’ll pay for school, and when I go in, I’ll go in as an officer and I’ll be active duty.”
Sheppard, Fredericks and Keith were defensive players who combined for more than 350 tackles in the program’s milestone season that included a state playoff victory over Durham Jordan. Decatur, a running back, and fan favorite because of his ability to break tackles, missed part of the season because of injuries.
A sophomore at East Carolina, Decatur is majoring in exercise physiology with the intent to get a master’s degree in physical therapy.
“It was great being considered the best team in Pinecrest history, but we want to see the guys do better than us,” he says. “I really come back every year to see coach Metzger and talk to the players, and see where their minds are at. They look pretty good, so I’m happy to see that.”
Fredericks and Keith both want to become teachers and coaches. Both are attending Sandhills Community College next semester and will be available to help the Patriot football program.
A junior at East Carolina, Fredericks’ SCC credits will transfer there when he returns for the second semester.
“I switched from health and fitness as a major so I can come back and coach,” the former coach on the field as an inside linebacker for the Patriots says. “We got to be here when the program was at its lowest point (2006) and at its highest point. Now we want to help keep the tradition alive.
“We were blessed to have those coaches. It’s a blast to come back and see everyone working so hard and see coach Metzger and all the new coaches.”
Keith, who will coach the freshmen defensive line, has slimmed down from his days as a defensive lineman for the Patriots. After graduation from Pinecrest, he also started out attending a junior college in California to play football.
“I miss the sport, I miss the atmosphere, and most of all I miss the coaches,” he says. “I’m just glad to be part of the camaraderie and team spirit again.”
For Metzger, it’s a big advantage to have people helping coach who know the system.
“It’s emotional to see them because they’re becoming men,” The coach says. “They’ve been growing up exponentially and doing great things.
“Our kids know the expectations because of what their brothers before them have done which is really awesome.”
More like this story