2017 High School Football Preview

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Independence High School Patriots

The Patriots from Independence High School have some good experienced talent returning from last years 2-9 team.  New Head Coach Mike Natoli who has a history of developing solid winning football programs is busy getting the team prepared for the upcoming season.  Most recently in 2016 at Statesville Christian School the team had a 14-2 record and won the NCISAA III state championship.   Indy will face very tough competition from Butler and Myers Park who are expected to be the two top teams in the SW4A conference.  Also,  East Mecklenburg and Independence will add some excitement along with Porter Ridge, Hickory Ridge and Rocky River.

The good news for the Patriots is they have 11 starters returning from last years team with valuable experience.  Also, the team has 26 seniors on the squad who are expected to make a positive contribution and provide leadership on a football team that is hungry and is expected to play aggressively with a chip on their shoulder.

The key returning offensive starters are led by senior quarterback Wes Cook with senior  wide receivers Dylan Bryan, Xavier Lloyd, offensive lineman Jacob Lee, Chris Andersen and junior center Zach Repak all with good experience from last years Patriot team.   On the defensive side of the ball the linebackers will be the strength for Indy.  Returning senior  outstanding linebacker Ty Clawson will lead the defense, along with Cam Snyder and Raevon Wofford who are all quick, have size and talented will be a solid foundation for a strong unit.  Other key players on defense include senior safety Chase Rappe and three defensive lineman Kaleb Baker, TJ James, Dalton Eller.

Key newcomers include Elijah Beamer a senior running back, Zach Hill offensive and defensive lineman, including two sophomores wide receiver Trevor Bryan and free safety Sean Pruitt.

Overall, the Patriots are fully expecting to win more games this season.  They plan to compete and be in contention in every football game.  Indy will play hard and always give maximum effort with a can do positive attitude.

Rocky River High School Ravens  

The Ravens under new amiable football Head Coach Orlando Gray has high expectations in the competitiveness of his young team.  The school located in Mint Hill has 21 seniors, however, a dozen of these seniors are first year players.  The coach mentioned his surprise at some of the raw talent displayed by these first time seniors and he expects them to make a positive contribution to the team.  This is the most athletic team I have coached,” said Coach Gray who has 17 years experience coaching at Concord, A.L. Brown and most recently West Iredell High School as Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator.

Some of the key players this season for the Ravens include Brent Jones, a junior 6′ 1″ 215 pound quarterback who has loads of potential.  He is a very coachable player with a strong accurate arm, hard worker, has good football intelligence and is a solid student athlete.  “We are really expecting this young man to step up big time this season,” said Coach Gray.

James Maye, is a 5′ 10″ 160 pound junior wide receiver who also runs track.  He is fast with excellent speed, runs precise routes and is a good character individual.  He is expected to turn some heads this season.  “He can flat out run,” said Coach Gray.

Abrion Pearson, an excellent senior defensive lineman who is both big and strong at 6’3″ 260 pounds.  He is a talented athlete who was selected as an all-conference player last season during his first year of varsity football.  “He is still learning the game, we have high expectations from him this season,” said Coach Gray.

Jerimiah Chester, a two way player for the Ravens.  He is a 6’0″ 245 pound nose guard on offense and is their anchor on defense with a few other teammates.  He was selected as the team Captain and is clearly the Ravens leader on and off the field.  “He is key to our success this season,” according to Coach Gray.

Jaylon Sharpe, a very strong 6’4″ 235 pound junior athlete who will see plenty of action going two ways on defense and offense for the Ravens.  He is a highly recruited linebacker and is another important team leader.  He has size, quickness and good football instincts.  Jaylon, is a special talent and we fully expect him to blossom this year with his maturity, said Coach Gray.

Kentrelle Groom, is another key senior who the coaching staff fully expect to play a major role this season.  At 6’4′ 235 pounds, he is long and rangy.  He is important to the defense as both a defensive end and outside linebacker.  “He is an aggressive player who will make some big plays for us in the trenches,” according to Coach Gray.

Overall, there is a lot of enthusiasm about this football team being able to compete in a very tough and highly competitive conference.  This club will give maximum effort and remain focused on the field.

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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
Ed can be reached at ed@minthilltimes.com, eberti7777@gmail.com and linkedin.com.