Up & Coming Weekly

July 23, 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 24-30, 2019 UCW 21 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM Byrd skid ends, but Eagles lack experience for 2019 by EARL VAUGHAN JR. Editor's note: This is part of a series on Cumberland County high school spring football workouts. After back-to-back 0-11 seasons, Douglas Byrd finally got in the win col- umn last year with a 4-7 record that included 3-5 in the Patriot Athletic Conference. While head coach Mike Paroli was glad to see some improvement, he's concerned that building on the posi- tives of last season will be difficult this fall. "We really only have eight returners off that team and only four seniors,'' he said. "We had some great seniors that will be difficult to replace. And we have the production of Earlee Melvin, which is very difficult to replace.'' Melvin, who came to Byrd from Cape Fear, sparked the Eagle offense a year ago with a Cumberland County Schools best of 1,713 yards from scrimmage and 20 rushing touchdowns. There will be a big load on four-year starter John Carroll, a versatile player who could be at quarterback, running back or wide receiver for the Eagles. As a running back last season, he gained 266 yards and scored three touchdowns. Alton Simmons, another Cape Fear transfer, will also be counted on at running back. He rushed for 201 yards and three touchdowns for Cape Fear last season. Another key returner is Zyon McEachin in the offensive line, who will man the left tackle position. "This year we're trying to continue the legacy Coach Bob Paroli built and trying to give Coach Mike Paroli a legacy to build on,'' McEachin said. "We want to make our record better than we had last year.'' McEachin said the current Byrd football team is committed to growing the program. "We want to try to get connected to the middle schools so we can have some middle schoolers come over and help build the team, make the population better on the team,'' he said. "We have to replace the players that are moving on, fill in the spots.'' McEachin said the goal for this year is to be a bet- ter role model for the younger players. "We want to leave a good footprint on the field so they have someone to look up to when we move on,'' he said. Paroli expects the Patriot Athletic Conference to again be a tough league. "You've got the 4-A teams (South View and Pine Forest) and then Cape Fear and Terry Sanford, which in reality are still 4-A teams,'' he said. He's not sure Byrd will be a serious contender for the state playoffs this season. "I don't think we're in that conversation yet,'' he said. "Maybe the year after this one, with only four seniors starting, we should return most of the team, if we can get a good ninth grade class in here and keep them with us.'' Zyon McEachin Terry Sanford has veterans, but also lots of holes by EARL VAUGHAN JR. Editor's note: This is part of a series on Cumberland County high school spring football workouts. Terry Sanford football coach Bruce McClelland lost 52 seniors over the last two seasons. His new team begins fall practice Aug. 1. "We've got a ton of young guys and new guys,'' McClelland said. "We've got a lot of holes to fill in key positions.'' Fortunately, there's some talent returning at a couple of key spots that should make things easier. Among the biggest returners is an experienced quarterback, Jacob Knight, who's been waiting in the wings behind past stars Christian Jayne and Davidjohn Herz. "He's been good enough to play the last two years,'' McClelland said of Knight. The fact that both Jayne and Herz are now playing minor league baseball is a good indication of the level of talent McClelland has enjoyed at the quarterback position. Another player who will have to step up his game is running back Dorian Clark, who shared ball-carrying duties with Leonard "Flo" Mosley. Both Clark and Mosley ran for 1,000 yards last sea- son. Clark had 1,662 yards to Mosley's 1,423. Clark scored 13 touchdowns, Mosley 15. "Dorian will have to tote the ball a little bit more with Flo gone,'' McClelland said. Helping to block for him will be returning lineman Roscoe Blue. Two key All-Patriot Athletic Conference players return on defense, lineman Elijah Morris and line- backer Jackson Deaver. Morris, a defensive tackle, said spring practice has been about fitting new players into open posi- tions and getting back to the goal of winning the conference title. "I think we could really be a good team this year,'' he said. "There's a lot of leadership at every position.'' He added teamwork is the key. "Instead of depending on one person for the whole team, we can play off each other's strengths,'' he said. "Working together. That's the main thing.'' One of the biggest players back is tight end and defensive end Ezemdi Udoh. Honorable mention all-conference at tight end last year, Udoh's stock rose sharply after the season because he received more than a dozen college scholarship offers. He has orally committed to North Carolina State University. It likely didn't hurt Udoh that his brother Oli from Elon was taken by the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL draft. "He's 6-feet-5 and already up to 240 pounds,'' McClelland said of Ezemdi Udoh. McClelland expects another close race for the Patriot Athletic Conference title. "I think it's going to be deeper this year,'' he said. "I really think Douglas Byrd and Westover are making strides. It's anybody's conference.'' Ezemdi Udoh Elijah Morris & 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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