PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Can you believe it? High School football season starts next week.
To get you ready for the action, we are taking you county by county leading up to our first Fifth Quarter of the season next friday. Today is Pender County.
The Pender Patriots come into the 2017 football season looking to move forward from the season they had last year. The team only saw 4 wins all season long and a one and done trip in the state playoffs.
This season, it’s a new year, with a new conference and a new coach. Tim Smith is taking over the program after spending the past two seasons as defensive coordinator at New Hanover. Now he looks to bring that wildcat coaching style to the Patriots.
“You just worry about what you do on a daily basis,” Smith said. “If you come out, make sure that you’re organized and put the right work in, the wins and success falls into place. But it has to build on itself everyday.”
Another team in Pender County looking to build on a 4-8 season is the Topsail Pirates. Coach Wayne Inman says that record wasn’t indicative of the skill that this team truly has.
“We felt like we out played several teams and didn’t win,” Inman said. “So I think our kids learned a good lesson in the fact that you have to play 48 minutes if you want to win a football game.”
Much of that nucleus is returning, including four year starter Quarterback Jacob Floyd. Having players you can rely on to know your system, how you handle business and how to play the Pirate way gives this team reason to believe an improvement is coming.
“We’ve got several kids who are three year starters that have been doing this for awhile,” Inman said. “So we feel good about what we have coming back, we really do.”
The first game for Topsail will be on the road at Trask. That’s where we make our next stop.
The Trask Titans, like the Patriots, will have to battle through the new Coastal 8 Conference. One of many hurdles Coach Jonathan Taylor and his team will have to face.
“Last year in the Four County we were familiar with our opponents week in and week out,” Taylor said. “This year, you have to go to the drawing board a little bit, study a little more and prepare. But it’s good for the kids because it’s something new.”
The Titans had the best year in school history behind Coach Taylor last season. A 7-5 record and wins against Pender and Topsail left them the pride of Pender County. But how can you build off of that success?
“Good question. You’ve just got to keep progressing forward,” Taylor said. “So we tell the guys, we turned the corner, but we’re not there yet. Keep building on what we did last year. Not just from an x’s and o’s standpoint but the commitment and dedication from the kids and to keep getting them to understand the value of hard work. With that hard work, it will result in what it did last year and get results this year.”
Pender, Topsail and Trask will all take part in the Pender County Jamboree on Thursday August 10.
The county tour around the Cape Fear continues Monday. We’ll head to Brunswick County to check in with the Trojans, Cougars and Scorpions.