Pats Shine in Air Raid Tourney
The Pinecrest A team ran off six wins in a row to reach the championship game of Saturday’s Air Raid 7-on-7 football tournament against Scotland County at the Morganton Road fields.
With each team playing its ninth 30-minute game of the day, the Scots utilized their trademark speed to defeat the Patriots 22-0. Coach Chris Metzger’s squad bounced back from a tie and a loss in its first two games to finish 6-2-1 while the Scots won all nine of their contests.
Fifteen teams in all competed, including the Pinecrest B and Pinecrest C teams that were put together to complete the field when two teams pulled out of the sixth annual event.
“I liked the way we started off slow and progressively got better,” Nick Lacey, a rising senior defensive back for the Patriots, said afterward. “It was great to see some younger players step up. It was a good test for us.”
This year’s tournament was sponsored by Southern Pines Recreation and Parks. The eight 40-yard fields were in excellent condition on a spectacular weather day that began at 9 a.m. and ended at about 4 p.m. Six points were awarded for touchdowns and two points for interceptions.
After a 12-12 tie with Cape Fear in the opener, the Patriots dropped their second game against Millbrook 14-12 on a late interception.
Picks by Jyvion Justice and Colton Daymude got the Pats off on the right foot in the third game against Panther Creek. One of 18 touchdown passes thrown on the day by Aaron Reimer, this one to Dwayne Simpson, gave them a late 16-14 lead. An interception by Frankie Painter as the clock wound down made it an 18-14 final.
Reimer and Simpson alternated at quarterback throughout the day. Playing quarterback for the first time as a rising senior, Simpson threw for eight scores and caught passes from Reimer for six more. He also played some defense.
The Patriots reeled off victories over East Montgomery and Chatham Central to gain the seventh seed for the afternoon’s elimination rounds. After defeating East Montgomery again, the offense exploded in a 38-18 quarterfinal win over Carrboro. Reimer and Simpson each threw for three scores. Maples (two), Eli Black, Justin Ray, Juwanza Harris and Dwayne Simpson were on the receiving end, and Lacey had an interception.
“We started to get to know each other better, got some chemistry,” said Reimer, who backed up Travis Scales last season. “Everybody did well. We had some drops, but we had some great catches too.”
Scotland went to overtime to defeat Cape Fear in the quarters and then beat Marlboro County to reach the title contest. The Patriots met Millbrook for the second time in the other tense semifinal.
Reimer connected with Simpson and Maples to give the Pats a 12-8 lead, but the Wildcats went back in front 14-12. A fourth-down bullet threaded through traffic by Reimer to Ray put the Patriots back in front. The win was preserved when a fourth-down pass by the Wildcats fell incomplete.
The Patriots never got anything going in the championship game against a defending 4-A state champion Scot team that still has plenty of talent.
“Gosh, they’re fast — really fast,” Reimer said.
Reimer was expected to compete with Tristan Helms, last year’s junior varsity quarterback, for the starting job, but Helms recently decided to concentrate on baseball. Simpson, last season’s second leading rusher, has been receiving a crash course at the position. Reimer isn’t taking anything for granted.
“Dwayne is nipping at my heels and I need to show up better,” Reimer said. “He did phenomenal today. It seemed like he played every position.”
Painter, an all-conference linebacker last fall, played both ways Saturday, catching four touchdown passes and a bushel more for gains before cramps limited him mostly to defensive action in the afternoon. Juanza Harris finished with five touchdown catches and Maples had four. Pinecrest newcomer Adrian Webster intercepted two passes.
“I thought the kids worked really hard, competed and got better,” Metzger said afterward. “We had three teams, so the kids obviously got a lot of reps.”
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