University City

Local football talent a big part of 49ers inaugural season

When Charlotte 49ers football fans and historians recount the program’s inaugural season, there will be several important homegrown products.

Eight first-year 49ers played their high school ball at area high schools. And several decorate the list of “famous firsts” and team statistical leaders that highlighted the 2013 season.

Right tackle Danny Book (Harrisburg Hickory Ridge), kicker Blake Brewer (Concord Cannon School), and running back Kalif Phillips (Kannapolis Brown) are among Charlotte’s players who will have some of the best memories.

Other local players making contributions this season were E.J. Rhinehart (Northwest Cabarrus, redshirt freshman, nine games, one tackle) and Jason Eury (Hickory Ridge, redshirt freshman, one tackle; one rush, three yards).

Quintin Gay (Central Cabarrus, redshirt junior, one game) and Robert Williams (Mallard Creek, redshirt sophomore, two games) saw limited action.

As the placekicker, Brewer will go down in the record books as the first 49er to touch the ball in program history. He booted the opening kickoff of the first game against Campbell into the end zone at Jerry Richardson Stadium.

“It was really special,” Brewer said. “Going out there (onto the field), it was extremely loud. I was extremely amped for it as well.”

Only a few plays later, Brewer kicked the program’s first extra point. In the second quarter, he nailed the first field goal. In all, Brewer finished Charlotte’s 52-7 win by scoring 14 points.

For the season, Brewer connected on 42 of 43 extra point attempts and nine of 15 field goal tries. His 69 points were second highest on the team, trailing only Phillips’ 78 points.

Brewer and Phillips weren’t sure how important their roles would be until the start of the season.

Phillips did not start any games, but his 716 rushing yards and 5.6 average per carry were best on the team. He turned up his scoring production late in the season, scoring eight of his team-high 13 touchdowns in the final four games.

Until the season’s final game at Morehead State, a 61-17 Charlotte victory, no one had scored more than two touchdowns in a game. Against the Eagles, Phillips found the endzone three times.

“Our offense, we’re well-coached,” said Phillips, a freshman. “We have real good coaching strategy. We know we’re going to put points on the board, no matter what.”

The 49ers had very few problems scoring points this season as they finished with a 5-6 record. They scored 367 total points, an average of 33 per game.

Book, a redshirt sophomore, and his fellow offensive linemen were an important part of that. Book was one of only 12 players to start all 11 games for the 49ers. One of the others was Book’s fellow tackle on the left side, Jamal Covington.

For the James Madison game on Sept. 21, Book was awarded the honorary No. 49 jersey (though the rule for jersey numbers prevented him, an offensive lineman, from wearing it in the game).

Book was one of only a handful of walk-ons who eventually earned a scholarship. His parents, Ray and Cindy Book, were two of the team’s most loyal fans, attending every game – home and away.

Jones named second-team all-region by NSCAA

Women’s soccer player Amanda Jones was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) all-Central Region second team. The junior midfielder led the 49ers with 10 goals, 23 points, and four game-winning goals.

Jones was also named to the all-Conference USA second team as Charlotte won the conference’s East Division championship.

49ers women resume play after Finals Week

After taking Finals Week off, the women’s basketball team resumes its schedule with a Tuesday game at Stetson in DeLand, Fla. The 49ers play at Davidson on Dec. 21 before they begin a three-game homestand from Dec. 29 to Jan. 8.