Yellow Jackets look to tougher road trip

Aug. 24, 2013 @ 05:05 PM

Lee County’s football team had fun during the day Friday, touring Charlotte along with UNC-Charlotte’s campus and brand-new football stadium, then had fun Friday night rolling to a 55-0 win over Spartanburg Christian (S.C.) to get the Yellow Jacket season off to a 1-0 start.

The rout was on right away. Spartanburg Christian fumbled the opening kick return giving the Jackets the ball on the Spartanburg 30-yard line. Two snaps later, quarterback Duane Bland, in his first start for the Jackets, scored on a 12-yard run.

After recovering another fumble by the home side, which was playing its first varsity contest as SCA is entering its third year as a football program, the Jackets scored another touchdown. A Kentrell French’s five-yard run, then a two-point run by French, made it 14-0 3:05 into the game.

Head coach Burton Cates brought 51 Yellow Jacket players on the trip and all 51 saw playing time. It’s not something that’s likely to happen too often the rest of the season. For the first game, though, it could pay off down the road.

“Our kids kept up the intensity throughout the game,” Cates said.

“We did a nice job offensively and defensively. Our kicking game needs some improvement in some areas, but we did a nice job there, too, and we did a pretty good job with the mechanics of the game,” he said.

Getting the right players on and off the field, and running everything with efficiency, while with lots of work to do, was sharp for week one Cates said.

The Jackets continued on piling up 358 yards of total offense. French rushed eight times for 101 yards and two touchdowns.

Bland scored again on the ground, then with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Nolan Groce, in the second quarter. Bubba Wilson went for a 56-yard touchdown run and the Jackets led 35-0 at halftime.

French scored on a 48-yard run on Lee County’s first drive of the second half. Dewey Rogers scored on a 10-yard run and Kahlese Arnold added a 12-yard touchdown run.

Lee County boosters and donors around Sanford made the Charlotte and Spartanburg trip possible, Cates said.

“The coaching staff really thanks the community support,” he said. “It was really first-class and we thank the people in Sanford and appreciate their support.”

This coming Friday night should be fun as well, although the competition level will get turned up for the Jackets, who have another bus ride ahead of them.

Lee County will travel to Greensboro to face 4A Ben L. Smith. The Golden Eagles lost 38-20 to Northwest Guilford Friday night.

Cates said Ben L. Smith is “a very athletic team” and his squad will need a good week in practice.

“We have to continue to improve. It’s very true, teams can improve more from the first game to the second game than they can all year long,” he said.