Chris Metzger on the Pinecrest sideline last fall.

Pinecrest head football coach Chris Metzger and three of his assistants had the “unbelievable” experience of coaching the winning North Carolina seventh-grade team in the Youth Shrine Bowl last month.

“We were just so honored and blessed to be able to be able to do this,”Metzger said of the whirlwind four days. “It was unbelievable. We had some phenomenal kids.”

Metzger had his defensive coordinator Freezy Smalls, Travis Scales, who coaches defensive backs and special teams, and Sam Cole, who coaches linebackers, by his side.

The game, which pits the North Carolina Tarheels against the South Carolina Sandlappers, was played Dec. 29 in Greenville, S.C. North Carolina won 8-0.

“It was raining sideways,” Metzger said of the game. “South Carolina had some kids that look like they could be playing for us at Pinecrest. I was really proud of our kids. We just grinded it out and ran the ball. We played great on defense and special teams.”

Things kicked off the day after Christmas with combines to pick the teams and then the coaches got to meet their players. They had two days to prepare the kids, with two practices on that Friday and two more on Saturday for the Sunday game.

“It was crazy,” Metzger said. “But it was a ton of fun too. It was great getting to know all of the kids.”

Smalls said it was “definitely an interesting experience” for him since he had not coached players that young before.

“They really soaked up the playbook quickly,” Smalls said. “They really paid attention and were locked in on what we wanted them to do. Our kids played great. We dominated in the trenches.”

While there were not any kids from Moore County on the team, Smalls noted that one of their quarterbacks was Ji’San McPhatter from Laurinburg. He could someday play for Scotland County, one of the powerhouse teams in the state and also in the same conference as Pinecrest.

“He is going to be pretty good,” Smalls said. “He is one we will have to keep an eye on.”

Smalls said they want to promote the Youth Shrine Bowl in Moore County in hopes of seeing kids from here have the opportunity to participate in it. The Youth Shrine Bowl features games for sixth, seventh and eighth graders. 

The coaches and players did not get to visit the Shriners Hospital for Children in Greenville because of concerns about the flu, Small said. He added that each of the kids who participated had to raise $1,500 for the Shriners Hospitals.

“It was an amazing experience,” Smalls said. “We got to know the kids. They were great kids. We were able to teach some character lessons at every practice. We tried to squeeze as much out of it as we could.”

Metzger said this was about more than just football for the kids and the coaches. 

“We treated them like they were our Pinecrest Patriots,” Meztger said. “We tried to instill in them the same core values we use here about servant leadership. The coaches did a great job. We loved on the kids. It was just a great experience. We were truly blessed to be able to do this.”

Contact David Sinclair at (910) 690-7020 or

Thank you for Reading!

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading. Subscribe today and support local community journalism.

Digital Only Subscriptions

Thank you for visiting and supporting award-winning community journalism. Not everyone wants to have a newspaper delivered to their home, but they want to keep up with the latest news in Moore County. Click here to gain digital-only access and support local journalism.

Starting at
$1.07 for 1 day

Connect Print Subscription to Digital Access

Thank you for visiting Your Pilot subscription entitles you to unlimited digital access. Simply log in. From the home page, click on Subscription Services. Then click on "Pilot All Access Print Subscribers." It should show your phone number . If so, click "Sign Up." After a few seconds, it will take you back to the home page. Log out, then log back in. You're set! For any problems, call our customer service number at 910-693-2487 or 693-2488.

Free access for current print subscribers