APA holds first official football practice of 2019
Members of Arendell Parrott Academy’s football team go through drills during Monday’s practice. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News
The 2019 football season has officially kicked off at Arendell Parrott Academy.
Monday morning was the first practice for the team, and about 25 players participated. The Patriots are looking to rebound from a tough 2018 campaign that ended in a 72-30 loss in the NCISAA semifinals to Rocky Mount Faith Christian — the team’s first time missing the championship game in five seasons.
APA coach Matt Beaman said the numbers were consistent in summer workouts, as about 20 players showed up per practice.
“For us being a regional school, I think that really shows a lot to their dedication, and I like where we are coming out of summer workouts,” Beaman said. “We don’t have the speed that we’ve had the last few years — we’re going to have to rely more on our physicality, and I think if our guys buy into the style of play, we’ll have a chance when the season ends.”
Several players are counted on to step up this season as APA graduated 10 players from last year’s team. Reynolds Barringer is among those playing a larger role, taking over as quarterback after posting solid stats as a backup. Barringer threw five touchdowns with one interception while also rushing for 262 yards and two touchdowns at a 12.5 yards per carry clip.
“I’ll be bringing in a different style at quarterback, with a little more focus on running the ball than in past seasons,” Barringer said.
Trey McLawhorn was second on the team in rushing with 304 yards last season with three touchdowns, and said he relishes a bigger role in the offense.
“I think we’ll have a bigger team than we’ve had in the past,” McLawhorn said. “We’ll gel really good too — I’ve been playing with a lot of these guys since seventh grade. We may not have a lot of long plays, but we’ll be good on offense.
Fullback Blake Smith said the team has done its part to improve for 2019 and believes it will pay off.
“We’ve been working hard all summer to try to get better,” Smith said. “We’re going to be more physical and try to wear teams down — we’ll be more disciplined in our games and play smashmouth football.”
Defensively, lineman Jonah Beaman said the team is set on improving a defense that relinquished 34.7 points per game last year, the team’s highest total since surrendering 35.1 in 2013.
“We’re going to do better at stopping the running game,” Beaman said. “Last year, we got manhandled, so our focus is going to be fixing that.”
Beaman said the team has high expectations for 2019, even with losing a strong core of seniors.
“If you’re at Parrott Academy, what we talk about from the first team meeting is a state championship,” Beaman said. “That’s our plan (and) that’s where we want to be at the end. We lost a lot of guys the last two years, so we’re going to have to have some guys step up to give us a chance.”