Parrott to play 11-man football game Aug. 31 for first time since 1989
Arendell Parrott Academy will play Bear Grass Charter School Aug. 31 at home in its first 11-man football game since 1989. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News
For the first time in 29 years, Arendell Parrott Academy will be playing football in a different manner.
On Aug. 31, the Patriots will line up at home against Bear Grass Charter School in an 11-man match on the gridiron. Arendell Parrott played its last 11-man game in 1989 before making the transformation to 8-man play. The Patriots have won three state titles in 8-man football, including their first year in 1990 and consecutive championships in 2015 and 2016.
The last time Parrott lined up for 11-man football was on Nov. 3, 1989, when the Patriots wrapped up a 4-6 season with a 33-0 win at home against Wilson Christian School.
Parrott will stretch its football field to accommodate for 11-man football. While the length of the field will stay the same at 120 yards, the width will go from a traditional 43 and 1/3 yards of an 8-man field to 53 and 1/3 yards.
Patriots coach Matt Beaman said scheduling Bear Grass Charter was a good fit early in the season with a bye week to prepare for the Bears. This will be Parrott’s second game of the season, with the opener a state title game rematch on the road Aug. 17 against defending NCISAA 2A state champion Rocky Mount Academy, who prevented a Patriots’ three-peat with a 66-60 overtime win.
“We were having trouble filling out our schedule,” Beaman said. “None of the (NCISAA) 1A schools wanted to play us and the 2A schools didn’t want to play twice in the same (regular) season, so I started asking 11-man teams. I talked to (Bear Grass Charter coach Brian) Paschal who was interested, and we’ve got some time to prepare for the challenge.
"The guys are excited and if there are no scheduling conflicts, hopefully we can continue to do this.”
The Bears had their inaugural season last year and are an NCHSAA 1A team from the Atlantic 6 Conference, one with only four teams in it. Bear Grass Charter wound up going 7-3 on the season and 5-1 in conference play last season, but lost a coin flip to Columbia which prevented a playoff berth.
Paschal said the Bears were trying to work on their schedule as well and this was a perfect fit.
“I know Parrott has wanted to venture into 11-man and with this being our second year having a football team we were looking for anyone to play us,” Paschal said. “I know they’ve got a pretty large team with about 35-40 players and we’re excited for this game.”
Patriots receiver Matthew Huntley said the team is ready for the challenge.
“It’s a new experience for us, but I feel like it’ll be a lot of fun,” Huntley said. “With more players on the field, we’ve got to make sure our quarterback doesn’t get touched and our receivers are able to make plays.”
While most of the Parrott team has no high school experience with 11-man football, linebacker Marquise Loftin-Myers does. Loftin-Myers, who transferred from North Lenoir to play his senior season with the Patriots, said he wants to make this a great event for his teammates.
“This is the first time in a long time they’ve had 11-man football, and it makes me feel like I’m back at North Lenoir,” Loftin-Myers said. “It’s a special moment for a lot of these guys, especially the ones who have been here since their freshman year.”
Patriots quarterback Zach Vendemia said the team won’t be nervous on the field.
“We’ll definitely study film on our bye week and will be well-prepared,” Vendemia said. “We’re not worried — we’re just going to adapt and be ready to play.”