Patriots Face Tough Wildcats Tonight
How tough is the New Hanover football team (4-0) that Pinecrest (3-2) faces at home tonight?
Four Fridays ago the No. 5 ranked Wildcats (AP poll) handed Scotland High its first loss since 2010. The currently No. 9 Scots were held to 76 yards rushing in the 21-16 loss in Laurinburg while the Cats gained 310 on the ground.
Idle a week ago, the Wilmington squad defeated Purnell Swett 56-19 in its last outing. The Patriots are coming off a 36-7 win at Western Harnett.
The kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Military Night at the John Williams Athletic Complex. All active and retired members of the military will be admitted free.
“They’ve beaten some really good teams on our schedule, which tells us they are a very good football team,” Patriot coach Chris Metzger says of the Wildcats. “Our focus is on getting better, coming together, believing and playing 48 minutes.”
The Patriots were defeated 45-29 in an entertaining shoot-out on the artificial turf at Legion Field last season. The Pats’ Travis Scales ran and passed for almost 300 yards in that one. Cat quarterback Bates Taylor was 26-for-36 for 347 yards and three touchdowns.
Both have graduated. If either team goes to the air very often in this one, it will probably be to the liking of the respective defensive coordinators.
The Patriots intercepted three of the four passes attempted by Western Harnett last week and attempted only five themselves. They have picked off eight in five games, including three by Jackson Maples and two each by Nick Lacy and Sam Brower.
The Wildcats are more of a ball control running team under sophomore quarterback Ward Coleman this time around. Montrell Baldwin and Ramone Simpson each rushed for over 100 yards against Scotland.
It will be critical that the Patriot special teams and defense continue providing an advantage in the field position department. Kicker Jackson Maples has put 18 kickoffs in the end zone, including six last week. His place-kicking ability is an advantage the Pats will enjoy.
Both teams have dangerous punt and kickoff returners.
“Obviously we have got a really strong defense and really strong special teams, and an offense that is coming along,” Metzger says. “Right now, any team in America, no matter what level, would like to hang their hat on those two things.”
Dwayne Simpson, who has rushed for 601 yards and scored 13 touchdowns, mostly as a running back, is expected to be the Patriots’ starting signal caller for the second game in a row.
The leaders in total tackles for the Patriots this season are Brower (54), Mike Gray (44), Lacy (39), Jonah Caliri (38), Frankie Painter (27), Josh McMillan (27), Colton Daymude (23) and Luke Fetla (20).
In area where many active and retired military men and women reside, Military Night is a big deal at Pinecrest. On behalf of Military Missions in Action and “Footlockers for Soldiers,” Pinecrest freshman Elizabeth O’Brien will be leading the collection of toiletry and snack items to be shipped to troops deployed in Afghanistan.
“We’re just really excited about it,” Metzger says. “It’s our way, a very small way, of saying thank you. We live in the greatest country on Earth and we want to honor them.”
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