For his first two seasons at Piedmont High, Cameron Tripp has worked to prove himself on the varsity football team.As a freshman who began his high school career at 6-foot-2, 160 pounds, Tripp led the Panthers’ junior varsity team to a 9-2 record, passing for 22 touchdowns and running for eight more. He also spent time with the varsity team as a freshman, playing sparingly in six or seven games – mostly in a backup role to former Panther starter, Sawyer Baucom.In his sophomore year, Tripp split time with Baucom, playing in every game for coach Ron Massey on a Piedmont team that went 5-7. “My first two seasons, I was trying to feel my way into the offense and the team,” said Tripp, whose family, friends and teammates call him “Cam.” “I was not only working to earn the respect of the upperclassmen, but I had to mature as a player and as a leader on and off the field. ... ” Tripp, 16, now a junior, is taller and heavier at 6-foot-7, 200 pounds. This season, he earned the starting quarterback spot from day one.He has led Piedmont to a 2-1 start with victories over Hickory Ridge (37-20) and Parkwood (38-31), and a loss to Porter Ridge. In the season opening win at Hickory Ridge, Tripp passed for 211 yards and two scores, and ran for another touchdown. In the Parkwood game, he passed for 120 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 128 yards and three more scores. But Tripp says he may have learned more in the 59-7 loss to Porter Ridge. “The Porter Ridge game was a humbling loss for all of us,” Tripp said. “But I learned that you got to get back up and respond. You can’t let one play or one loss get you down.” Massey, now in his second year as the Panthers’ head coach, has seen the progression in his young quarterback. “As the starting quarterback, you’ve got to be able to forget mistakes really quick and move onto the next play,” Massey said. “Cam threw an interception against Parkwood, and then came right back on the next drive and had a 65-yard touchdown run. I think that series really showed how much he has grown.” He operates the Panther’s option offense, which includes some read-option, some triple-option and some more traditional looks. Tripp has learned to use weapons like running backs Aaron Braswell, Matt Fisher, Tyler Long and Mitch Woody, as well as receivers Colton Greene, Tyler Ivey and Cody Leviner.But while Tripp looks to get the ball to his key players, he is the first to say that nothing works without his offensive line, which includes sophomore center Dillon Chaney and four seniors: left guard Ethan Pierson, left tackle Colby Price, right guard Vassar Strickland and right tackle Cale Helms.That group is so important, in fact, that Tripp made a deal with them. If the offensive line doesn’t allow a sack in a game, he will feed them dinner the following Monday night. So far, Tripp has fed his line twice for the team’s two winning games.“This season may end costing me a lot, but it’s worth it,” Tripp said. Tripp also is a star on the Piedmont basketball team, where he has started at power forward since his freshman year.He averaged 21 points and six rebounds for a 21-6 Piedmont team last season and already has received a basketball scholarship offer from United States Military Academy at West Point. Tripp is also getting interest on the football field, where he attended camps at Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, N.C. State and Tennessee this summer. While he hasn’t decided whether he will continue to play both sports, Tripp will get plenty of good advice from his father, Dennis, who played college football as defensive lineman at North Carolina (1986-90) and even played briefly in NFL for the New York Giants (1991-92).Cameron Tripp is currently ranked third in his class with a 4.66 weighted grade-point average. Still, he says he has things to prove. “We (Piedmont football team) know we’re the underdog, and no one is picking us,” Tripp said. “But we like the challenge, and we like proving people wrong. I feel the same way individually. I know as the quarterback, I’m going to get all the credit or all the blame. But I am ready for it.”
Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2013
Piedmont quarterback grows into his position
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at email@example.com.
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