GRAY'S CREEK BEARS
PUTTING IN WORK
Kendall Evans has two reasons for working hard to get ready to play football at Gray's Creek this season.
Firstly, it's his last year of playing high school football.
“It's my senior year and I want to go out with a bang,” he said. “I've been working a lot harder than I have previously.”
Secondly, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound defensive end hopes to earn an NCAA Division I college football scholarship.
“I've been to a lot of football camps,” he said. “I'm really working on technique with my teammates and some of the individual stuff.”
Evans has attended football camps at N.C. State, Wake Forest, East Carolina, Appalachian State and Charlotte. All of those schools have shown an interest in him.
Evans said he likes to play defensive end because, “you need to be just as quick as a linebacker and just as big as an offensive lineman.”
About the Bears ...
Top returners: Ben Lovette, QB, Sr.; Kendall Evans, DE, Sr.; Garrett Crockett, T, Jr.; Dalton Patrick, DB, WR, Sr., Jared King, T, Jr.; Justin McClintock, LB, Jr.; D.J. Crutcher, CB, Sr.
Potential breakout players: Jerry Garcia Jr., RB, Jr.; Gaven Freeman, FB, Sr.; Jarrod Kenney, RB, Jr.; Tamari Burden, CB, Sr.; Robert Burks, DB, Jr.; Jahim Alford, RB, Jr.
Coach's outlook: “We were three heartbreakers away from being conference champions last year. We were knocking on the door. We smelled it last year. It's always our goal to win the conference. Hopefully, we can do that this year.”
910preps evaluation: The Bears return a strong nucleus from a team that won seven games last year and made the state playoffs. They lost two games on the final play last year. With a couple of breaks this year, the Bears could win 10 games and claim the conference title.
Conference: Patriot (3-A)
Coach: David Lovette
2018 record: 7-5, 5-3
5-year record: 26-33, 15-19
All games at 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 23 — at South Johnston
Aug. 30 — at Fairmont
Sept. 6 — West Johnston
Sept. 13 — at South View*
Sept. 20 — Pine Forest*
Sept. 27 — at E.E. Smith*
Oct. 4 — Cape Fear*
Oct. 11 — at Terry Sanford*
Oct. 18 — Overhills*
Oct. 25 — Open
Nov. 1 — at Douglas Byrd*
Nov. 8 — Westover*
* — Conference game
Jerry Garcia Jr. rushed for 500 yards in the last three games of the season in 2018. “I think he can do that over the course of the season this year,” Coach David Lovette said. Garcia also is a big contributor on defense at strong safety. He had two interceptions and two fumble recoveries last season.
Jarrod Kenney moves up from the junior varsity and will bring his quickness to the Bears backfield. He's also a good pass catcher.
Defensive back Robert Burks also moves up from jayvee and is one of the fastest players on the team.
Junior Jahim Alford is the brother of former Gray's Creek running back Calvin Boyd, a 2,000-yard rusher. “He's one of our faster kids,” Lovette said of Alford. “He's going to get a chance to play somewhere.”
The Bears feel they owe at least three teams some payback for close losses last year. They lost to Terry Sanford and Pine Forest on the last play of both games. They also lost to South View despite outgaining the Tigers nearly 2-to-1 in yardage.
South View won by returning two punts for touchdowns.
Gray's Creek finished in fourth place in the Patriot Athletic Conference behind those three teams. “What makes our conference tough is it's really balanced,” Lovette said. “There was not a lot of difference between first place and last place last year.”
“Where we are located, people really want to beat South View,” Lovette said. “The game has a name, the Battle of the Bridges. So for the community, that's a big game.”
Aug. 17 — W, at Parkwood, 5-25
Aug. 24 — L, Pinecrest, 24-21
Aug. 31 — W, Jack Britt, 25-22
Sept. 7 — L, at Pine Forest, 42-36*
Sept. 25 — W, E.E. Smith, 23-19*
Oct. 1 — W, at Cape Fear, 20-16*
Oct. 5 — W, at Overhills, 37-16*
Oct. 19 — W, Douglas Byrd, 21-0*
Nov. 2 — L, at South View, 43-29*
Nov. 9 — L, TerrySanford, 31-28*
Nov. 16 — L, at Northern Durham, 31-6**
* — Conference game
** — NCHSAA playoff game