Sports Shorts: September 2

by Aaron Garcia

Coach: top-ranked Pirates still need to improve

There is plenty for Porter Ridge football fans to be happy about. The Pirates, the top-ranked team in the Union County Weekly Super 7, are off to a 2-0 start and have outscored their opponents 118-40, including tallying a school-record 63 points against Piedmont last week.

But don’t tell Pirates’ coach Blair Hardin that. The coach pointed to 19 penalties and 13 missed tackles in the two wins as reasons for his team not to get complacent as it visits No. 7 Forest Hills this week.

“Those are things we have to polish to get better at because our schedule is only going to get tougher,” he explained.

Though the Yellow Jackets are 0-2 on the season, Hardin said they have the personnel to give the Pirates trouble.

“They’ve got huge offensive and defensive linemen this year and they’ve got four skill kids on offense that can go to the house on any play,” Hardin said. “They score a lot of points (32.5 points per game) and they’re extremely talented offensively.

“They’re a scary bunch,” Hardin continued. “We’ve got our work cut out, no question about it.”

The Yellow Jackets should be concerned too, though. Last week, Lee McNeill threw for four scores and ran for two more, while running backs Chris Duffy and Najee Davis each added rushing touchdowns. While McNeill is a returning starter, Duffy and Davis are each starting in the Pirates’ backfield for the first time this season.

“We’re very fortunate to have two guys back there that can do some things in the backfield,” said Hardin.

Sun Valley regroups with bye week

Sun Valley coach Scott Stein isn’t using the excuse that his team opened the season against two of state’s best in Richmond County and Charlotte Mallard Creek to justify the Spartans’ 0-2 record, in which they were outscored 122-49. Instead, the coach said the No. 5 Spartans are going to learn from and build off their losses, starting this week when Sun Valley has its bye week.

“Our season didn’t start and stop with Richmond County and Mallard Creek, it just showed us we had a few more weaknesses than we wanted to admit,” Stein said. “Now we get to correct some of those things and go to work to see how much fixing we can do.”

The Spartans should receive a boost from the return of linebacker/defensive end David Marino, who injured his hamstring this summer.

“I think that makes us a whole lot more physical,” the coach noted. “He really brings a lot of passion and strength to his positions.”

As for the 0-2 start, Stein said his team shouldn’t focus on the negatives.

“I would hope that anything that happens to you as far as adversity doesn’t stop you, it starts you,” he said. “I don’t know of anyone, from Michael Jordan to anybody else, that hasn’t had adversity in their lives, that hasn’t had to look in the mirror and commit more to what they’re doing.”

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