No. 12 preview: Cary football to keep sustained success going

mblake@newsobserver.comAugust 5, 2012 

Elijah Bryant (5) adds yardage for Cary in the second half against Panther Creek.

CHRIS ADAMCZYK — newsobserver.com

  • N&O preseason football rankings (2011 record) 1. Aug. 11 2. Aug. 11 3. Aug. 10 4. Aug. 10 5. Aug. 9 6. Aug. 9 7. Aug. 8 8. Aug. 8 9. Aug. 7 10. Aug. 7 11. Chapel Hill; 10-3 12. Cary; 9-3 13. Erwin Triton; 10-2 14. West Johnston; 7-4 15. Clayton; 5-7 16. Panther Creek; 8-4 17. Broughton; 5-6 18. Bunn; 9-4 19. Southern Durham; 7-4 20. Knightdale; 4-6

After five schools in the Tri-Nine Conference had coaching changes this offseason, Cary’s Ben Kolstad enters his 10th season as the league’s longest-tenured football coach.

The Imps have made it to the postseason in each of Kolstad’s nine seasons, posting a record of 65-47. While many area head coaches begin to lay their foundation of their new programs, Cary’s was set long ago.

“Before I got hired, I was running the offseason program and I just took it over as if I was going to be the head coach. The kids already knew me and knew my expectations,” said Kolstad – and that’s been true ever since.

Cary brings back five starters on offense and five more on defense, which means the team will be relying upon many of last year’s back-ups and rising JV players. But there a few subtle changes to how the Imps are doing things this year.

Kolstad is moving from offensive coordinator duties to defensive coordinator, a side of the ball that has been a staple of recent Cary teams.

The Imps allowed just 11.9 points per game last season, and only three of their last 27 opponents have topped the 30-point mark.

“We’ve got a lot of gaps to fill, that’s for sure. We’ve got to get better if we’re going to get to way we played the last couple of years, but we’re getting there,” Kolstad said of his defense. “I think we have a chance to be pretty darn good.”

Aaron Plynaar (30 tackles, four sacks), one of the few two-way players for Cary, will anchor the defensive line.

Landon Walton returns in the secondary, while Matt Rush and Anthony Konieczka (75 tackles, seven sacks) lead a strong linebacker group.

Obed Mulenda, who plays some safety and some linebacker, had 51 tackles and four fumble recoveries.

Former N.C. Central assistant Quincy Pedew comes in as offensive coordinator, and will be tweaking a few things.

Cary has run its offense mostly out of the Pro-I formation, but will use multiple formations this year and play more up-tempo.

Whatever formation it uses, Kolstad feels confident that the blocking will be there.

“I really like our offensive line,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of experience there, but it’s a really dedicated group of kids,”

The Imps are breaking in a new quarterback in senior Jordan Dawson, who had just four pass attempts last year. Elijah Bryant and Jamal Caesar combined for 317 yards receving last year and five touchdowns, but it’s unclear if Caesar will be able to play after being treated for jaw bone cancer.

Running back Marquise Sherrod-Ponds has ran for almost 1,000 over the last two seasons while being a back-up, and Kolstad expects big things now that he’ll get the majority of the reps.

Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps

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