South Caldwell Fall Sports by Dan O’Neal
HUDSON, NC (August 21, 2019) — What has become typical in the high school sports culture is the way teams begin play before the school calendar year even starts. Back in the days of when I was in high school now over forty years ago, this was pretty much unheard of. Football practice was always starting August 1st but not all other sports…not until after the calendar year commenced.
Truthfully, I like the way the culture has changed as it gives these young women and men a spark of sorts toward their academic (yes, students FIRST!!) and athletic accomplishments. I further contend that our students today are much busier than the previous generation where school activities go. Hopefully, it can be productive as opposed to, duh, counterproductive.
The Spartans Varsity Volleyball squad, coached by Vickie Reining, have already played two games as they opened their season this past Monday evening, falling to the Bunker Hill Bears 3-1. All four were close games with the sequence of 25-23 scores in this matchup.
Tonight, the Spartans hosted the East Burke and were swept by the Cavaliers 3-0, with scores of 25-16, 25-13 and 25-23. Coach Reising commented on the way this teams is sound on defense but short with regard to height. She spoke of the way that the goal of this team is to focus on defense and improve in converting on offense. The Spartans next matchup is set for a home contest against Class 2A powerhouse Fred T. Foard.
It does not have to be asked if Spartan Nation is ready for some football. The young men I have talked with are very enthusiastic about the upcoming fall campaign. Spencer Piercy, a tailback who will not surprise any opponent in the Northwestern 4A/3A Conference, and whose favorite NFL inspiration is Christian McCaffrey, has set a lofty goal of 2,000 yards rushing for the 11-game season. With his breakaway ability in running the football, anything is possible there.
Senior receiver Austin Raynor, who will likely be a team captain and vocal leader on and off the field, spoke of the way in which the players are students first (he hates cliches by the way) and players second and seek to hold each other accountable in both areas.
In asking head football coach Marc Kirkpatrick what the goals for the upcoming football season were, he spoke of how winning the first game was always important. South will open the 2019 season at home against county rival West Caldwell this Friday evening at 7:30pm.
Kirkpatrick also commented on the way the Spartans are in year three of the turnaround. “We’re trying to do more than be in games. We seek to win more than we lose and play for championships. My impression overall of the pre-season scrimmages is that we have noticed steady improvement since the very first practice and good players are starting to surface.”
Aside from Piercy and the Raynor brothers (Avery will once again be the lead signal caller), the offensive line features Trevor Johnson. The Spartans also hope to greatly improve on the defense side of the football, with the D-line being anchored by Ryan Hawkins. Linebackers spots will be manned Steven Reid, (Austin) Raynor, C.J. Crawford and John Robert Boyd. Secondary is still up for grabs but should Piercy be playing both ways, look for that pick-six sometime this season, perhaps more than once.
Soon after the high school campaign begins, college and pro football will follow shortly thereafter. As I stated in my previous column, Clemson and Alabama in the National Championship. Yes, that is how the NCAA and the networks have written the script, recruiting and field play combined.
With the NFL, have only this comment. When Avery Raynor was asked who his favorite NFL player was, he did not hesitate in responding with Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks quarterback in case you are like, who the bleep is Russell Wilson, lol) When asking Raynor if he liked the Cleveland Browns second year quarterback and former Heisman winner Baker Mayfield, he gave this look like, uhhhh, no. With this in mind, I recently learned of the way Mayfield was critical of the New York Giants drafting Daniel Jones as their first-round pick. Okay, yes, I am a Duke fan and yes, while respecting Daniel Jones, I thought Giants General Manager Dave Gutterball, oops, Gettleman, made a bone-headed decision.
Baker Mayfield may have a right to express his opinions as do all of us. However, why does he even care about who the Giants, Jets, Steelers, Panthers choose to be their first-round selection? Furthermore, while the Browns showed much improvement in the 2018 season (they even played a late afternoon contest on the last game of the season, a time slot they have not played in years), for Mayfield in leading the Browns squad again ,he needs to either put up or shut up as opposed to jawing to GQ Magazine about players drafted by other teams.
Finally, let us hope that the Spartans softball mojo has permeated the entire campus and student body of South Caldwell High School. May you students, teachers, admins, and all other staff have a very safe and richly blessed school year. Coach Tomberlin, our ears are ready for your jubilant intro of “Here Come Your Spartansssssssss”!