High School Sports

Triton ended last year red hot, hopes to keep it rolling this season

Triton's De'marius Staton plows over Western Harnett defenders. The Triton Hawks played the Western Harnett Eagles in Lillington, N.C. on Friday, November 6, 2015. Triton won 28-8.
Triton's De'marius Staton plows over Western Harnett defenders. The Triton Hawks played the Western Harnett Eagles in Lillington, N.C. on Friday, November 6, 2015. Triton won 28-8. newsobserver.com

Triton coach Ben Penny said he got emotional after last season’s year-ending first-round loss at Asheboro in the 3AA football playoffs. It wasn’t because he was upset with the loss, a near upset, but because he was proud of what his team had accomplished in bouncing back from a winless 2014.

Triton was 9-3 when this year’s seniors were freshmen on the JV, then 0-11, then 4-8 with three straight wins to close out the regular season and snatch an automatic playoff berth from rival South Johnston.

The Hawks trailed Asheboro by six in the fourth quarter before falling late 35-12, opening up a world of possibility of what can happen this year. Penny’s group has seen it all.

“Those guys have come a long ways. They’ve learned a lot of lessons in life the last few years, and I tell you what, they’re very excited,” Penny said. “They know what it’s like to fail, they know what it’s like to upset South Johnston, win three straight and make the playoffs.”

Who are some players to watch?

Third-year starter Ethan Cruse runs the Wing-T from under center and has a great options behind him in 220-pound bruiser De’Marius Staton, speedster Byron Massey and Rudy Tapia. Many players, like Massey and Staton, are playing both ways.

What’s the strongest area? Biggest concern?

While there’s plenty of depth at running back, the Hawks are inexperienced on the line aside from two-way starter Savijon Williams.

What’s the biggest key for the Hawks this year?

“We’re just trying to be consistent,” Penny said. “In every game, we looked good at some time. There were times we came out of the gate, there were times we finished.”

J. Mike Blake: 919-460-2606, @JMBpreps

More on the Hawks

Last year: 4-8 (3-2 Two Rivers 3A), first round 3AA playoffs

Five year average: 7-5 (4-2)

Preseason N&O rank: Unranked

Offense: Wing-T

Defense: 3-4

Coaches: Ben Penny (HC/DC), Andy Karcher (OC/OL), Barrett Sloan (QBs/RBs), Joel Cook (WRs), Brian Strickland (OL), Derek Mangum (LBs), Maurice McBryde (CBs), David Reece (Safties)

Contributors: Ethan Cruse (Sr., QB), De’Marius Staton (Jr., FB/MLB), Byron Massey (Sr., RB/CB), Rudy Tapia (Sr., RB), Christion Green (Jr., WR), Savijon Williams (Sr., OL/DL), Trey Lucas (Sr., DL)

The main number: 2 – Triton has two Thursday varsity games in the first three weeks, at Cape Fear to start on Aug. 18 and hosting Harnett Central on Sep. 1 for Labor Day weekend.

Schedule

Aug. 18# at Cape Fear, 7 p.m.

Aug. 26 at Overhills, 7 p.m.

Sep. 1# vs. Harnett Central, 7 p.m.

Sep. 9 BYE

Sep. 16 at Gray’s Creek, 7 p.m.

Sep. 23 vs. Lumberton, 7:30 p.m.

Sep. 30 vs. Southern Lee, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 7* at Cleveland, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 14* vs. Corinth Holders, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 21* vs. South Johnston, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 28* at Smithfield-Selma, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 4* vs. Western Harnett, 7:30 p.m.

Note: *Conference game; #Thursday game.

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