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Pinecrest football had nine players this year sign to join college football programs in the fall. Pictured front row, from left to right, Taylor Aichele, Jeff Yurk, Savren Norton, Nico Marella and Mac McFadden. Back row, from left to right, Bryson Coe, Jaiden Washington, coach Chris Metzger, Braxton Barber, Gibson Macrae and Niquwan Hill.

Ten members of a Pinecrest football senior class that helped drive the program to one of its most historic four-year runs were recognized for reaching new personal heights Monday in John Williamson Stadium.

In the sweltering heat in front of friends, family and teammates, the 10 seniors formally announced their plans to join college football programs in the future.

“This is the culmination of thousands of hours of a lot of sacrifice and a lot of servant leadership on their part,” outgoing Pinecrest football coach Chris Metzger said.

“Since March of ‘07, this has been a day that has been celebrated at Pinecrest High School. For the past 14 years, over 120 young men have had the courage, 120 families have believed in dropping off early and the little things.”

Four of the signees on Monday will be teammates at their college homes next year at two different schools as Nico Marella and Savren Norton signed to Wingate, and Niquwan Hill and Taylor Aichele signed to St. Augustine’s.

Marella was one of a handful Pinecrest backs who received significant handoffs this season and Hill was one of the top targets this season for the receiving corps. Norton and Aichele provided depth on defense this season for Pinecrest.

The standout inside linebacker duo of Mac McFadden and Gibson Macare signed to their next destinations; McFadden with Gardner-Webb and Macrae with UNC.

Macae was the Sandhills Athletic Conference’s defensive player of the year and had 95 total tackles, four tackles for loss and recorded the game-winning safety against Hoke County in the season opener this season for the Patriots.

McFadden had 44 tackles this season in six contests, with sacks and an interception returned for a touchdown in the win at Lumberton.

Bryson Coe signed with Guilford College and Jaiden Washington signed to the Naval Academy to be a student assistant coach.

Coe had 22 tackles and one sack.

Two of the 10 were also honored earlier in the year when Braxton Barber signed with Davidson, and Jeff Yurk with Elon.

Moving to quarterback from tight end this season due to injuries, Barber passed for 907 yards and six touchdowns, while also scoring two touchdowns rushing. Yurk had four field goals this season and connected on 20 point-after-touchdown attempts.

“During a pandemic, they broke records. They broke records for guys in a program. They broke records academically,” Metzger said of the group. “These guys, over a three-year time period, and keep in mind of the shortened season, won 89 percent of their contests.”

Contact Jonathan Bym at (910) 693-2470 or jonathan@thepilot.com.

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