Patriots Face Top-10 Foe — Again
Pinecrest faces a team ranked in the top 10 of the weekly football polls for the third time this season when it entertains Scotland High tonight in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
The Patriots (4-3) are coming off a 24-0 win over Lumberton in last week’s Southeastern Conference opener. The defending 4-A state champion Scots (5-1) trounced Purnell Swett 42-0 to open league play.
Against a team with an evenly balanced offense led by sophomore quarterback Jaylend Ratliffe, the Patriots will hope to count on a defense and special teams that have produced a 22 to 13 turnover advantage through seven games.
The Scots have made it all the way back since the 2008 and 2009 seasons when the Patriots under coach Chris Metzger defeated them during a rare down period for the football program. They are currently ranked eighth in both the AP and NCPrep polls and seventh by Carolina preps.com.
This year under a new coach, and a sophomore quarterback, the Scots have lost only once, 21-16 to New Hanover in week two.
“Coach Williams (Chip) did a great job, and coach Bailey (Richard) has stepped in and done an awesome job,” Metzger said on Wednesday. “It’s a football factory year in and year out. They had a two-year hiatus and then they came right back. We have to win the turnover battle, make the big play and be strong.”
Ratliffe has passed for almost 900 yards and rushed for over 300. The leading rusher is senior Jalen McLean. Linebackers Artemis Robinson and Chris Moss head a stingy defense that has allowed one touchdown or less in four of the Scots’ six games.
“They’re well-versed and very similar to New Hanover and Jack Britt,” the Patriot coach said, referring to previous top 10 teams his team has faced this season. “Our kids have had a great week. They know what’s at stake. Right now we’re 1-0 in the conference. To be 2-0 we have to play the best game we have.”
The Patriots committed no fumbles, and were intercepted once last week with Dwayne Simpson at quarterback.
The senior is the team’s leading rusher with 742 yards on 114 carries. He has scored 17 touchdowns. Jackson Maples has kicked six field goals.
The Patriots hold a 16-7 turnover advantage in the four games they have won. Linebackers Mike Gray and Jonah Caliri had big games last week, registering 15 and 12 tackles, respectively. Maples, with his kickoffs, and punter Frankie Painter have helped the Pats maintain a field-position advantage in most of the games.
Safety Sam Brower is the Patriots’ leader in total tackles for the season with 71, followed by Gray, 68, Caliri, 58, and cornerback Nick Lacy, 50. Lacy has also been credited with two interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
Going into this week, the 165 players representing the Pinecrest football program have a combined record of 14-5. The freshmen and junior varsity teams were both 5-1.
“About 20 percent of the male population at Pinecrest plays football,” Metzger said. “It’s just an honor to work with these kids and coach with these coaches.”
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