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Sophomore Raynor Paces Spartans on Senior Night by Dan O’Neal

SAWMILLS, NC (October 26, 2018) — It has been forty years since my high school senior year. In retrospect, there are moments I wish I had chosen to run Cross Country however, I longed to have a car; something in the way of a Camaro, Firebird, Smokey and the Bandit Trans-Am, Charger, or a 440 Duster. If I desired such a make and model, someone had to go to work and make some money for that happen.

Alas, neither one materialized hence I was stuck riding the school bus my senior year and without my second varsity letter. Yet, as the adage goes, “life goes on” and by the grace of our Lord, I have. Wow, I cannot believe I disclosed the senior year school bus story (am blushing at this very moment).

Yes, back in the day (I know you twenty somethings and under get tired of hearing that), there was Senior Night at the final home football game. Back in the day, at least at Asheboro High School, only football players and cheerleaders (that is what they were called back then and there were very few, if any, high flying and high risk manuevers and many of them polluted their lungs with the chemical warfare known as tar and nicotine, coughhhhhhh). Band members were just there, somewhat appreciated even though many of us band members (long before they were called band geeks[sic] think American Pie movie) detested marching. We were cool without such recognition but all that to say is I am very impressed and thrilled with the way South Caldwell shows this recognition to all seniors who work hard to accomplish and achieve their goals. Spartan Nation, I hope you take great joy in these students and the way they perform in and outside the classroom.

Speaking of Senior Night, this final home game was played on….Thursday evening as the contest was rescheduled to the torrential downpour the next day. It may seem trivial but in case you did not know, South Caldwell varsity football is 2-0 in games not played on the customary Friday night due to weather conditions. Perhaps the weatherperson will call for rain again this Friday; will Coach Carter go for that, who is to say?

Regardless of what the overall record may be, you always have that great yen to win on Senior Night. After a shaky first period of play where Saint Stephens led 14-6, the Spartans would own the second frame on touchdown runs by Isaiah Kirby and Avery Raynor as well as thirteen-yard scoring toss from Raynor to Spencer Piercy, putting South up 30-14 at the half. Raynor led the way for the Spartans “two-headed monster offense” with 311 total yards and four touchdowns, along with sixty-four and forty-four yards rushing by Kirby and Piercy. South also converted on four of six 2-point conversions. Tight end Blake Martin also made two significant catches and he is not easy to bring down.

As the third quarter commenced, Saint would score again on fifteen-yard run through the Spartan defense by fullback Matthew Hancock, with the Indians cutting into the Spartans lead at 30-20. The Spartans responded with two more scores on runs by senior Dustin Herman and quarterback Raynor, leading to a Spartan 46-28 win. Overall, the Spartans gained nineteen first downs and accumulated 441 yards of total offense and holding Saint to 272 total yards from scrimmage. What did not help either team’s cause was the penalties, many of them being unsportsmanlike conduct. While it is true that competition can be super intense, (referees should not “have the need to use Clorox wipes”).

“It feels good to be back on the winning side. This is great for our seniors on this night. The defense clicked, and we sought to take away from their best skill players. Avery (Raynor) put the team on his back tonight.” commented Spartans coach Marc Kirkpatrick. Also, as senior Samuel Craig stated during the post-game interviews, “This is a night to remember; brothers like these can’t be found anywhere else”. Craig has been quite instrumental in helping to get the football program back in the right direction, helping to once again, put the Spartans in playoff contention and not with a mere one victory over the other 4A opponent in your enrollment classification. That rule was changed by the state High School Athletic Association.

The scenario is like this, if South wins at Alexander Central this Friday and McDowell loses to Freedom, the Spartans move on to the post-season. If South loses, regardless of the Freedom/McDowell outcome, the Spartans season concludes. that being said, this is a “must win” for the Spartans. Given that is has been almost three years since former Spartans coach Butch Carter left for Alexander Central, that should not figure into the Spartans game plan. What matters more is getting that crucial win should you desire the season continue after November 2nd.

Given that Alexander Central has a better record in conference play and the season overall, it will be vital for South’s “two-headed monster” or “747” offense to make plays and finish like they never have before and to tackle and wrap up the opposition on defense like they never have before. The coaching staff has worked well together this season and the improvement of play has been clearly evident in the 2018 campaign. What will happen in this final game? The “experts” on NCPreps rivals will not give the Spartans much love in their predictions. Hence, South will set out to prove their antagonists wrong as they travel to Taylorsville this Friday. Kickoff is the usual 7:30pm.

Other notes: Congratulations to the South Caldwell Spartan Regiment on being the Grand Champion at two Marching Band competitions this past Saturday, October 27th. The Band seems to be collecting these titles, outstanding!

Congratulations to the South Caldwell Future Farmers of America on receiving the Silver Award at the recent National Competition in Indianapolis last week as well as senior Lawton Looper achieving the individual Gold Award.

Special thanks always to the press box crew. They accentuate what hospitality should look like. Always like family up there!