Coming off a state championship loss to regional power Charlotte Christian last season, Providence Day football coach Adam Hastings was returning a lot of talent, including two high school All-Americans, and he was looking for ways to close the gap between his team and the Knights, who have won four of the past six Division I state titles.
A big part of Hastings’ plan was an ambitious early-season schedule that included dates with Columbia Ridge View, a S.C. 4A team, Fayetteville Trinity Christian, a powerhouse N.C. private school team and North Stanly, a 1A power returning lots of talent from a 10-2 team.
The one thing Hastings wasn’t counting on? An 0-3 start.
“But my feelings about them never changed,” Hastings said about his team. “With everything we’ve been through, I never lost faith that our players were 100 percent bought in to where we had to be.”
And it wasn’t like Hastings’ team - which features top 100 2019 recruits Porter Rooks and Jacolbe Cowan - was playing the Holy Sisters of the Poor.
Providence Day lost 41-20 to Trinity Christian (4-0), which is ranked No. 18 among all N.C. teams, regardless of class, by MaxPreps. That was followed by a 33-7 loss to Ridge View (2-1), a school four times the size of Providence Day, and then a 29-14 loss last week to a 1A North Stanly (2-2) team that has two close losses to bigger 3A teams. In that game, Providence Day had six turnovers, three on North Stanly’s side of the field.
“We felt like we could be 3-0,” Hastings said, “and we ended up 0-3.”
On Thursday, the Chargers whipped the Hickory Hawks 51-0, dominating a home school team in an easy win. The Chargers scored 30 points in the first quarter.
“A win’s a win,” Hastings said, knowing his team needed one. “The biggest thing for us is we played three quality opponents, and we just needed to gain some momentum.”
The Chargers only have 40 players on varsity and a good number are freshmen. Hastings said his team can’t do too many contact drills for fear of injury. So being able to hit on Friday nights only means his team might take a little while to get comfortable.
But by playing a tough schedule, Hastings says he was able to identify the areas the Chargers need to improve. And other than a non-conference game at home against Arden’s Christ School Oct. 19, the Chargers should be favored every week until the regular-season rematch with Charlotte Christian Oct. 26. That game could be for the Big South 4A conference championship.
And despite the start, the Chargers’ goals were always to be playing for the conference and state titles. If they get there, Hastings is positive the opening schedule and the hardships his team has fought through will mean it is more ready to take the next step.
“We’re confident with how we can play,” he said. “The reality is, because we played such quality opponents, we learned a lot about us. If we had not scheduled tough, we would not know how and where to get better.
“All we preach in the off-season is to put yourself in uncomfortable positions and that’s how you become a tougher, better person. And I think our goals are still attainable. When we do things the way we need to, we’re as good as we need to be.”
↑I-MECK conference openers next week: Pretty nice couple days next week for the state’s No. 1 high school football conference. On Friday, Sweet 16 No. 16 North Meck (4-0) is at Mooresville (4-0). Then on Saturday at UNC Charlotte, we get the game of the year so far in Mecklenburg County: No. 6 Vance (4-0) facing No. 2 Mallard Creek (3-0).
↑East Rutherford: Cavaliers beat Morganton Patton 34-7 to start the season 5-0 for the first time since 1992.
↑Lawndale Burns: Bulldogs were down 14-3, 28-17 and 35-24 before rallying at Hendersonville for a 56-55 win. Burns recovered an onside kick in the final seconds to seal the win.
Thursday’s Top Performers
Cody Cater, Porter Rooks, Providence Day: Cater, the Chargers’ quarterback, threw five touchdown passes in a 51-0 win over the Hickory Hawks. Rooks, a junior All-American ranked among the nation’s top 50 recruits in his class, caught four touchdown passes.
Hunter Deberardino, Justin Torrence, Mooresville: Remaining unbeaten in his first season of varsity football, Deberardino was 12-for-21 for 273 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-7 win over South Iredell. Torrence caught five passes for 159 yards and two scores.
Naseem Jones, Belmont South Point: Ran for four touchdowns in 33-7 win over city rival Belmont Stuart Cramer.
Austin Reed, SouthLake Christian: One-yard TD run, 54-yard interception return for a touchdown and six tackles in a 34-12 loss to Asheville Christian.
LINKS TO MORE CONTENT
ASHEVILLE SCHOOL 34, SOUTHLAKE CHRISTIAN 12
MOORESVILLE 38, SOUTH IREDELL 7
Mooresville 7-17-14-0 - 38
South Iredell 0-0-0-7 - 7
MHS: Hunter Deberardino pass 42 yd to Justin Torrence - Isaac Riffle Kick
MHS: Glenwood Robinson 6 yd run - Isaac Riffle Kick
MHS: Hunter Deberardino pass 93 yd to Justin Torrence - Isaac Riffle Kick
MHS: Isaac Riffle 26 yd FG
MHS: Hunter Deberardino pass 43 yd to AJ Stewart - Isaac Riffle Kick
MHS: Glenwood Robinson 5 yd run - Isaac Riffle Kick
SI: Ty Everhart 52 yd pass to Cullen Smith - Landon Castorena kick
PROVIDENCE DAY 51, HICKORY HAWKS 0
Providence Day 30-14-7-0—51
Hickory Hawks 0-0-0-0—0
PD: 18 yd TD pass from Cody Cater to Porter Rooks. Chris Kahl PAT good
PD: 50 yard TD pass from Cody Cater to Porter Rooks (Kahl PAT good)
PD: 18 yd TD from Cody Cater to Thomas Flynn (Kahl PAT good)
PD: 28 yd TD pass from Cody Cater to Porter Rooks (Kahl PAT good)
PD: 16 yd TD pass from Cody Cater to Porter Rooks (Kahl PAT good)
PD: 8 yd TD run by Nickel Fields (Kahl PAT good)
PD: 28 yd rush by Andrew Sangmuah (Kahl PAT good)