After much anticipation, Cannon (0-1) played their first game as a varsity team two weeks ago, losing to North Raleigh Christian 35-14 at home.
While the score seemed lopsided, the game was much different.
Cannon scored on their first two possessions to lead 14-6, and piled up more than 320 rushing yards for the night. But the Cougars committed six turnovers (four fumbles, two interceptions), which made it hard for them to stay competitive.
"We feel like we should have won our first game," said Cannon football coach Donnie Hayes, whose JV team went 6-1 last year. "These kids aren't used to losing and they don't like it now."
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The Cougars played their season opener without two key players - junior quarterback Justin Redfern (broken hand) and starting wingback Will Nork (torn MCL). Playing well were backup signal caller Miles Martino and running backs Mason McClanahan (121 yards rushing, 2 TDs) and J.D. Wimbish (122 yards rushing).
After getting a taste of varsity high school football, Cannon, which is coming off a bye week, is looking to get in the win column. Hayes and company believe they have the talent and the opportunity. They play against Victory Christian this Friday night.
McClanahan and Wimbish will have to help the Cougars control the ball and the clock by running the ball effectively without fumbling. Martino also needs to manage the game and not make mistakes.
If Cannon can move the ball effectively and avoid turnovers, their defense should also be capable of making plays.
Defensive end Wesley Scott, a Concord transfer, looked dominant in his first start, making 17 tackles. Meanwhile, J.M. Wilson looks to organize and stabilize a secondary that was vulnerable to big plays in their first game.
The Cougars will go on the road for five straight games after hosting the Kings, so Hayes and company want to get a victory Friday. This game will be one of Cannon's best opportunities of the year to win this season.
Victory Christian (0-2)
After a solid start to the program, Victory Christian (0-2) has struggled to compete with their opponents consistently. The Kings, 1-8 in 2009, were outscored 396 to 82.
Victory Christian is now bolstered by several transfers, including Independence quarterback Jarri McCoy-Williams, into the lineup and hopes that will solve some of their problems.
Playing Cannon, a first-year varsity team, could be an opportunity for the Kings to develop confidence, win or lose.
Victory coach Frank Crockett hopes that either McCoy Williams or Corey Lawrence will be the answer at quarterback, helping spark the offense.
Tailback Bruce Bryson, a Myers Park transfer, also needs to be a more consistent part of their success with wideout Jonathan Bridges.
The Kings' defense also needs improvement, as the unit gave up nearly 40 points per game last season.
Mallard Creek transfer Josh Harris will try to lead the group from his linebacker slot.
This should be an even game. The opportunity to win for both teams could make it a memorable one as well.