Bucks two scrimmages down, season starts this Friday at Gray’s Creek

Hoke County Head Coach George Small addresses the team after a game earlier this season.

The Hoke County Bucks football team now has two scrimmages under their belts and is getting set to head into their first regular season game this Friday night at Gray’s Creek.

“We had a lot of miscues early on, and mistakes were made, but I did like our guy’s effort,” Coach Small reported after the team’s first scrimmage against Pine Forest last Wednesday. “We have got to keep improving and play more consistently on both sides of the ball.”

Hoke County High School is working with three quarterbacks this year after moving their former quarterback, Warren Avery, to wide receiver and running back positions. The role of quarterback has since passed on to Brandon Saunders, Montez Stephens, and Antwon Wilson.

“We just needed some more backs, and Warren wanted to play some different positions,” said Small regarding his former quarterback.

On the defensive side of the ball, it appears that the Bucks are still in need of some work up front.

“We’re just not there yet, and we gave up a lot on the perimeter,” said Small about the state of his defense. “When it comes to time in pads and amount of practice allowed by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, game speed is such a different thing than practice. We just don’t get a lot of time in pads to experience that. Some guys just don’t get into full game shape until later.”

Last Friday night, the Bucks participated in the Cumberland County Football Jamboree at Cape Fear High School, where they played against Jack Britt.

The Bucks had another rocky start to their game after the starting quarterback, Montez Stephens, bobbled the ball on the first possession and fumbled it, allowing the Buccaneers to recover. However, due to the game being a controlled scrimmage, Hoke was allowed to maintain possession for ten plays. Hoke running back Ethan Wallace immediately turned things around, gaining roughly 15 yards on the very next play. The Bucks ran the ball six out of eight times before Stephens connected with a wide-open Caleb Hall for a 35-yard TD reception.

Jack Britt took over on offense and ran five plays before the Bucks defensive line got pressure and tipped the ball. It was eventually intercepted by Emmanuel Bratcher. Due to the controlled scrimmage, Jack Britt maintained possession. The Bucks’ defense managed to hold and, after a couple more possessions, took over on offense.

The Bucks moved the ball down the field to the five-yard line when Stephens ran it in for the next touchdown. The scrimmage game ended with Hoke County scoring twice and holding Jack Britt from the endzone.

“We’re still shooting ourselves in the foot at times, and a lot of our guys don’t know their assignment, and they miss something on their alignment, which makes the execution horrible,” Small said after the game. “Something is always going to affect the execution; that’s where we got to stop it, and if you guys want to be successful, better than what you are… I mean, you’ve got everything else to get there. Your tanks are full, and you’re running on super unleaded gas, but you’re still driving a Pinto. If you set your sights higher, you could be running around in a Jaguar or a Bentley.”

The Bucks kick off the regular season at Gray’s Creek this Friday night in a non-conference showdown. Gray’s Creek finished last season in fifth place in the United 8 Conference with an overall record of 4-6 and a conference record of 3-4. The Bucks also ended the regular season last year in fifth place in the Sandhills Athletic Conference with an overall record of 4-7 and a conference record of 2-4.

Gametime is set for 7:30 pm at Gray’s Creek High School in Hope Mills.