CAPE FEAR COLTS
It's their turn
It says a lot about the Cape Fear football program that a 7-5 record could be considered taking a step back. That’s how Colts coach Jake Thomas characterized the 2018 season as the team prepared to launch its 2019 campaign.
Every team takes a hit from graduation and the Colts were no different. Two of the team’s biggest offensive playmakers — Zaire Boykin and J’Velus Peterson — and leading tackler Austin Hunt moved on. Still, the Colts appeared to have quite a few key parts returning on the defensive side of the ball until a different kind of “moving” — as in moving away — claimed several more players Thomas was relying on.
“This year, we do not have a whole lot of senior returners with experience,” Thomas said. “But we’ll be going with the same concepts and the same competitive nature.”
It will be a year for the 2018 understudies to come into their own. Quarterback Ki’mani Britton will handle those duties full time after pairing with Caydan McKethan a year ago. McKethan moves into a full-time running back slot, which suits his bruising style. Jaleel Parks joins McKethan in the backfield after turning heads on the junior varsity.
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Top returners: Caleb Krings, OL, Sr.; Caydan McKethan, RB, Jr.; Taiquan Gamble, WR, Sr.; Mark Burks, DB, Sr.; Michael Wesolowski, OL, Sr.; Chason Bryant, OL/DL, Jr.; Thomas McMillan, OL, Jr.; Nick Minacapelli, DL, Sr.; Mason Smith, K/P, Sr.; Micah Nelson, WR, Jr.; Cade Oliver, OL/DL, Sr.; Lucas Daw, LB, Sr.
Potential breakout players: Ki’mani Britton, QB, So.; Jaleel Parks, RB, Jr.; Donta Autry, LB, Jr.; Ricky McDonald, LB, Jr.
Coach's outlook: “At the beginning of the summer we were feeling pretty good, but we had a couple of guys move out so that left some more holes to fill. We’re still a run-based team. We’re still going to put in our top plays — power, zone, counter — and we'll put in a few RPOs. Defensively, we’re going to put pressure on teams — blitz, bring pressure and if the quarterback is going to beat us, he’s going to have to be accurate and he’s not going to have all day to sit back and throw the ball.”
910Preps.com evaluation: There is enough talent returning on the defensive side of the ball to keep Cape Fear in games and if the new linebacker unit performs to expectations, it will be difficult for any team to move the ball consistently. Offensively, it will be a year of growth for sophomore quarterback Ki’mani Britton. He’ll have a stable of running backs to help him out and a decent line in front of him, but the offense will live or die on his fortunes as he continues to learn the Colts’ offense. All in all, it adds up to another squad capable of reaching the postseason.
Conference: Patriot (3A)
Coach: Jacob Thomas
2018 record: 7-5, 5-3
5-year record: 50-18, 25-9
All games at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 23 — at Clinton
Aug. 30 — Seventy-First
Sept. 6 — at Lumberton
Sept. 13 — Open
Sept. 20 — at Terry Sanford*
Sept. 27 — Overhills*
Oct. 4 — at Gray's Creek*
Oct. 11 — Douglas Byrd*
Oct. 18 — at Westover*
Oct. 25 — South View*
Nov. 1 — at Pine Forest*
Nov. 8 — E.E. Smith*
* — Conference game
On offense, the Colts will do everything they can to run over or around opponents with run-pass option plays designed to play off Britton’s ability to make things happen on the move. Defensively, few teams attack as aggressively as the Colts, who will be relying on a strong defensive line to disrupt the opponents’ backfield.
Keep an eye on Taiquan Gamble at receiver. He’s not necessarily an unknown quantity after ranking among the county’s top 10 with 33 receptions a year ago, but he has impressed the Colts’ coaching staff by assuming a leadership role while making huge strides in his game during the summer.
FANTASY DRAFT PICK
Every fantasy team needs a good kicker and Mason Smith is one of the best around. He converted 24 of 25 extra-point attempts as well as six field goals last season.
Seventy-First at Cape Fear, Aug. 30. The Falcons blanked Cape Fear 25-0 a year ago. It was the first time Cape Fear was held scoreless since the 2016 state championship game against Greensboro Dudley. As it is just the second week of the season, both teams will still be figuring out who they are, so it should be a great measuring stick for both programs.
Aug. 17 — W, Clinton, 15-0
Aug. 24 — L, at Seventy-First, 25-0
Aug. 31 — W, New Hanover, 33-7
Sept. 7 — W, Terry Sanford, 20-3*
Sept. 26 — W, at Overhills, 56-12*
Oct. 1 — L, Gray's Creek, 20-16*
Oct. 5 — L, at South View, 20-16*
Oct. 19 — W, Pine Forest, 28-7*
Oct. 26 — W, at E.E. Smith, 42-0*
Nov. 9 — L, at Douglas Byrd, 33-21*
Nov. 16 — L, at Southeast Guilford, 21-8**
* — Conference game
** — NCHSAA playoff game