Last year Nation Ford High’s football team had its best season in the school’s seven-year history.The team’s first-ever winning season, 7-5, included big wins over Rock Hill and York.But coach Michael Allen and the Falcons are hardly satisfied with the results.“We’ve had a good couple of years and made progress,” said Allen, who is in his third year as head coach. “But at the end of the day, we are still 13-11 in the last two years. I know we are in a tough region (Region 3 4A), but we not only want more, we expect it.”Nation Ford has a lot of reasons to be confident, but it starts with an offense that proved it can score, by averaging 30 points per game.The leader of that group, senior quarterback Dalton Helms (6-foot-2, 190) is back. Last season he passed for 2,440 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for 334 yards and three more scores.The top two receivers, A.K. McCoy and Dijuan Ussery, are gone. Instead, the spread attack will feature Michael Allen, the coach’s son (5-10, 160), tight end Riley Hilton (6-3, 225, leading returner with 32 catches last year), junior Colt Taylor (6-1, 190) and sophomore Hank Tuipulotu (6-2, 185).Senior running back Marquis Coleman (5-9, 160) should also help as the Falcons look to use the play-action pass, coach Allen said.The offensive line has experience, starting with two-year starter, Tyler Schmidt (6 feet, 225), a senior center.“We’ve got a senior quarterback, senior running back, a bunch of senior receivers, and all five seniors on the line, so everybody has played a lot,” Hilton said. “We feel like we have everything we need to have a big year on offense. I think that will also carry over to our defense.”The Falcons hope to improve on defense, where five returning starters are led by Hilton, who doubles as a defensive end. He will have senior Michael Isley (6-4, 240) back up front.The front seven also includes senior middle linebacker Chris Harvell (5-9, 205), a three-year starter, who likes the “big hit,” and outside backer Andrew Bruce (6-1, 205).The Nation Ford secondary also has experience with Allen, Jordan Causey (5-10, 155) and Brandon Cureton, (5-10, 140).Allen said his team is on the verge of making another jump in Region 3 4A and beyond, but he knows it won’t be easy.“We’ve accomplished a lot of (Nation Ford) firsts in the last couple of seasons, first team to have a winning season, first team to get to the playoffs and more,” Hilton said. “Being our senior year, we want this to be the year we break through and accomplish something bigger.”
Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013
Nation Ford has experience this year
Nation Ford Coach: Michael Allen, third year, 13-11. 2012 record: 7-5, 4-3. Starters Returning: 10 (5 offense, 5 defense). Key players: QB Dalton Helms, 6-foot-2, 190, Sr.: Looking to be even better than his 2,440 yards passing and 22 touchdowns last year, he has interest from Charlotte, Duke, Richmond, Wofford. TE/DE Riley Hilton, 60-foot-3, 225, Sr.: Has size and speed to be a factor on both sides of the ball. Getting attention from Charlotte, Charleston Southern, Furman, Richmond and Wofford. MLB Chris Harvell, 5-foot-9, 205, Sr.: Three-year starter is a “headhunter” and strong leader on defense, according to Allen. Can’t-miss games: South Pointe, Oct. 11; Northwestern, Nov. 1; at Fort Mill, Nov. 8. 2013 Football Schedule Aug. 23 – at Forestview Aug. 30 – Boiling Springs Sept. 6 – Lugoff-Elgin Sept. 13 – Open Sept. 20 – Ridge View Sept. 27 – at Clover Oct. 4 – Lancaster Oct. 11 – South Pointe Oct. 18 – at York Oct. 25 – Rock Hill Nov. 1 – Northwestern Nov. 8 – at Fort Mill
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at email@example.com.
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