There will be a first time for everything this fall at Apex Friendship. The Patriots, now equipped with a junior class, will play a varsity schedule one year later than the other Friendship programs.
“It’s a whole different ballgame from Thursday to Friday nights and I’ll be the first one to tell you that,” coach Adam Sanders said. “But we’re fully ready for it.”
The Patriots may not have seniors, but it’s flush with players. There are 118 trying out for its varsity and JV teams, and all are asked to focus on the positives in what can be a trying year for varsity teams.
Out of Wake County schools to open since 1995, the first-year varsity football teams include Green Hope (0-11), Rolesville (1-10), Southeast Raleigh (0-10), Holly Springs (0-11), Panther Creek (1-10) and Heritage (3-8).
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Only Wakefield (5-6) won more than three games and Middle Creek (3-9) was the only one to qualify for the playoffs. But many of those teams were in the playoffs by year two or three.
“We focus on small things. When you’re 15, it’s hard to see the big picture,” Sanders said. “We have them focused on getting better every single day and then focusing on the next play. If they focus on those two things then everything else will come from there. We’re trying to be positive because there’s a lot of challenges in the road.”
How does Friendship play? How good was the JV?
The Patriots will use multiple backs in their spread offense and will mix in different defensive looks with three linemen. In their JV campaign last year, the team went 5-4.
Why is the home opener at Holly Springs?
In May, Friendship hired a company to regrade the field among other things, but the grass didn’t grow back as fast as expected. The field is expected to be unplayable until September, in time for the second home game of the year.
So Friendship will “host” Tarboro’s North East Carolina Prep on Aug. 20, a Saturday, at Holly Springs.
Are there any winnable games?
With a nonconference schedule that includes two top-20 N&O teams (Cleveland and West Johnston), there aren’t many of these to go around.
The best shots will be against North East Carolina Prep and whoever slips to the bottom of the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference standings.
More on the Patriots
Preseason N&O rank: Unranked
Defense: 3-4, multiple
Coaches: Adam Sanders (HC/OC), Sam Greene (OL/Assistant HC), Terry McNeill (DC/LBs), Eddie Mullins (RBs), Andrew Gibson (RBs), Jalen Wiley (WRs), Brandon Poteat (WRs), Frank Toms III (DL/Head JV), J.T. Wise (DL), Greg Pawluk (LBs), Clark Harmon (DBs), Martin Munn (DBs)
Contributors: Dylan Elkins (Soph., QB), Jacob Kelley (Jr., RB), Jaden Roundtree (Soph., WR), Chase McPherson (Jr., OL), Rawad Nasrallah (Jr., OL), Chris Gillis (Jr., DL), Luke Cerasi (Jr., DL), Chris Ingram (Soph., DL/OLB), Luke Hepburn (Soph., DB/LB), Will Kilpatrick (Jr., DB)
The main number: 5-4 – the Patriots surprised some area coaches by going 5-4 in its first year as a JV team.
Aug. 20# vs. North East Carolina Prep 6 p.m.
Aug. 26 BYE
Sep. 2 vs. Cleveland, 7 p.m.
Sep. 9* at Fuquay-Varina, 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 16* vs. Green Hope, 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 23* at Panther Creek , 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 30* vs. Apex, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7* at Cary, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 at West Johnston, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21* vs. Middle Creek, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28* vs. Athens Drive, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4* at Holly Springs, 7 p.m.
Note: *Conference game; #Saturday game.