Up & Coming Weekly

July 02, 2019

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 21 of 28

JULY 3-9, 2019 UCW 21 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM D.J. Jones Kirstie King Editor's note: This is part of a series on Cumberland County high school spring football workouts. While Pine Forest's football team is still basking in the glow of win- ning last year's Patriot Athletic Conference regular-season title, head coach Bill Sochovka adds there's still a sour taste from the loss that ended the season. That occurred in the second round of the 4-A playoffs at Pine Forest. A controversial call prevent- ed the Trojans from keeping a late drive going as they wound up losing to Scotland. "Some coaches say I'm complaining, but I'm not,'' Sochovka said. "The kids remembered how it was. In any sport, a loss like that, you don't take lightly.'' That is why Sochovka feels the Trojans are quickly looking forward, not back, as preparation for the 2019 season begins. "Last year, we were talking about the leadership and what I thought turned that team around,'' he said. "That's still here today. I feel really good about that in terms of the momentum coming off that. All those things in the right place are still in.'' While things look ready to go on offense, Sochovka said the defense is going to require some rebuilding. The key returnee for the Trojans is running back D.J. Jones, who has been a major recruiting target. June 26, Jones ended speculation by announcing that his college choice will be the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Last season, Jones rushed 206 times for 1,198 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also caught 18 passes for 307 yards and five touchdowns. Sochovka said Jones' accomplishments are not an accident. "You work hard like this kid does, you have a great attitude like this kid does, and you set a goal and you achieve it,'' Sochovka said. "Great, great, great character. Grades — phenomenal.'' Sochovka added when players put things together like Jones has, the recruiters will come and find them. Even Jones' highlight tape is a testament to the kind of teammate he is, Sochovka said. "Six of his first slides are him blocking for somebody else,'' he said. "He's got a great motor. Check everything you want to see in a player and times it by two, because he's got it.'' As for Jones, his main concern this season is serving as a mentor to the younger players on the Pine Forest team to get them up to varsity level. "We've got a bunch of new guys, younger guys coming in,'' Jones said. "We've got to get them in the system and get their confidence up. We've got to get them to be veterans, be the leaders on the team.'' Jones said he also plans to be a better leader on the field by giving everything on every play. "We know at the end of the day, we could have done better on our part,'' he said. Last year's conference race was tight, with five teams finishing within two games of first place. Sochovka expects another tight race this season, adding that there are several teams with potential to contend for the title if they get the right formula at the right time. "We surprised a lot of people and we have a target on our back,'' Sochovka said of his Trojans. "I think it will be another dogfight like it was last year.'' Former Terry Sanford High School star athlete Kirstie King recently picked up her diploma from Raleigh's Meredith College. But she won't be leaving school to find a job. She's already landed one at her alma mater. Meredith recent- ly named King as its new assistant women's soccer coach. King played both basketball and soccer during her years at Meredith. When she initially enrolled there, a future in coaching wasn't in her plans. Originally, she planned to become a nurse with an interest in nutrition. But she changed to a major in exercise sports science with a possible interest in teaching. She served as captain of the soccer team her final two years at Meredith, and she enjoyed her role working with the younger players on the team. "I really took over the role of leading and teaching, trying to help develop the younger players on and off the field,'' she said. That continued this past spring as she helped as a volunteer coach with the soccer program. Jen Grubb, who became the head coach of Meredith soccer in January this year, suggested King apply for the assistant coaching position. King thinks her personal experience as a stu- dent-athlete at Meredith will put her in a unique position to be able to promote the program to potential recruits. Her job began June 15. Right now, she's helping get things organized for the upcoming season. She won't hit the recruiting trail for the first time until later this year. She's excited about the chance to come back to Fayetteville and Cumberland County and try and get players from here to play for Meredith. "I'm super excited,'' she said. "Coming from Fayetteville, I can reach out to the coaches I've had, watch the girls and show them the opportu- nity I've had here.'' Trojans hope to build on title momentum by EARL VAUGHAN JR. Former Bulldog King joins Meredith staff as assistant soccer coach by EARL VAUGHAN JR. & 6-8pm MONDAY Congratulations to the 126 scholar-athletes earning college scholarships in 2019! BRINGING YOU THE BEST IN CUMBERLAND COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

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