Bubba Williams’ first season as Corinth Holders’ football coach was one to remember – except for the final two games.
The Pirates took nine of the opening 10 outings to set up a showdown with Cleveland for the Two Rivers Conference Championship. Corinth Holders allowed 62 points and dropped the regular-season finale before falling in the opening round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3AA state playoffs at perennial powerhouse Northern Guilford.
Williams doesn’t see any residual effect from how the 2015 campaign closed as the Pirates get ready for their TRC finale this fall due to the latest NCHSAA realignment.
“It’s a new year,” Williams said. “We didn’t play well in the playoff game. Teenagers and high school kids move on in a hurry. We have to focus on this year.”
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Of greater concern to Williams is the program’s current low numbers as the Pirates have just 32 varsity performers. Corinth Holders will also be relying on several new players at skill positions, though Williams likes his veteran groups on both the offensive and defensive fronts.
“I think our (first-team players) are not bad,’’ Williams said. “We are experienced in a lot of areas. Our senior class is decent, but there isn’t much behind them right now. We have to avoid injuries because we don’t have a lot of depth right now.”
After this year, Corinth Holders will be moving up to the 4A level in 2017, which means a move away from several of its current Johnston County rivals in the TRC. Williams indicated, however, that the Pirates will still feature some of those clubs on their schedule in a nonconference capacity.
In the latest NCHSAA four-year alignments, Corinth Holders has gone from 2A to 3A — and now up to 4A next fall.
“It is what it is,” Williams said. “We are going up (to 4A) regardless. We have to get better to compete with some of those schools. Right now, we are just trying to make it to tomorrow.”
Who are some players to watch?
Senior veteran Matt Morgan will anchor what should be a solid offensive line. Morgan, at 6 feet 5 and 250 pounds, was an all-conference selection in 2015. Look for him to also see time along the defensive front for Corinth Holders.
Demorris Lee, another senior, has plenty of experience at the wide receiver position. His unique blend of size (6-2) and speed helps provide a mismatch nightmare for opposing defenses.
Defensive end Trey Adams is expected to be a standout. At 6-2, Adams boasts size, and he has the speed to both rush the passer and chase down backs on the weak side.
What players will they miss the most?
Kaelin O’Neal continued Corinth Holders’ tradition of strong quarterbacks as his rushing and passing abilities helped the Pirates finish 9-3 overall. Howard Watson joined O’Neal in the backfield and rushed for over 1,500 yards in 2015 as a senior.
Offensive lineman Matt Cooper went to UNC-Pembroke after helping pave the way for the Pirates to score over 40 points on six occasions last year.
How will Corinth Holders’ revamped offense look in 2016?
Scoring points has rarely been an issue during the brief history of the program. The Pirates have been blessed with a slew of high-caliber performers, but graduation hit Corinth Holders hard in the offseason.
Williams has switched around several players with the hope of maximizing his club’s offensive potential.
Johnavan Neal will start at quarterback for the Pirates after playing wide receiver last year. Neal has good size at 6-3 to see over opposing defenses.
Lee is a key returnee at wide receiver, but Corinth Holders’ returning look at running back was a bit lean, so Williams will turn to senior Josiah Adams, who spent most of his time at safety in 2015.
Williams said that Jimmy Ferrell is a skill-position option who has the athleticism to succeed at several spots on the field.
More on the Pirates
Last year: 9-3 (4-1 Two Rivers 3-A), 3AA first round
Five year average: 6-6 (3-3)
Coaches: Bubba Williams (head coach), Adam Khavari (DBs), Michael Enyart (DC), Peter Clark (OL), Matt Migliore (OC), Fred McLamb (DL), James Faggart (OL), Stanley Monk (WRs)
Contributors: Larry Williams (Jr., OL/DL), Jimmy Ferrell (Sr., ATH), Matt Morgan (Sr., OL), Trey Adams (Sr., DE), Johnavan Neal (Sr., QB), Demorris Lee (Sr., WR), Josiah Adams (Sr., RB)
The main number: 9 — Corinth Holders has won nine contests in each of the past two years.
Aug. 19 at Northern Nash, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 26 at Clayton, 7 p.m.
Sept. 1# vs. Hunt, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 at East Wake, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. C.B. Aycock, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Fike, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 30 BYE
Oct. 7* vs. Smithfield-Selma, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 14* at Triton, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 21* vs. Western Harnett, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 28* vs. South Johnston, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 4* at Cleveland, 7:30 p.m.
Note: *conference game; #Thursday game