- Special Sections
Coming off of possibly their best season ever, the Catawba County Hornets are aiming to add more history and success in 2013.
Led by a shutdown defense, the Hornets ended their 2012 campaign with an 11-3 record.
The team made it to the Florida Bowl in Deltona, Fla. and faced off against the Orlando Rage.
Despite their 11 wins, the Hornets lost in two of their most important games last year â the Central Carolinas Football League (CCFL) championship game against the Carolina Renegades (35-8) and against the Rage (28-24).
âWe had two chances to win a championship last year,â said Hornets linebacker Booker Jones. âWe slipped up on both of them. This year, we want that ring. Nothing less than a ring. The good thing about it is everyone feels the same way.â
Catawba County has made several new additions to its roster, including wide receivers Dustin Metts and Donald Brown.
Both players will try to factor into the teamâs new offensive scheme this year.
â(Dustin) is a tall receiver that has good hands and decent speed,â Frye said. âHe helps out our spread offense that we want to use. We can utilize all four of our receivers on the field. (Donald) has played some Canadian ball. Thatâs a plus for us, too.â
The team also made improvemenets to both of its lines, including 270-pound offensive tackle Kasey Carlineo and 280-pound defensive lineman Chavis Floyd.
âKasey has helped us on out the O-line to make it more secure,â Frye said. âChavis is strong, quick and likes to play ball.â
Making the switch from offense to defense is Aaron Rainey, who will serve as the Hornets running back this season.
Rainey had 10 carries for 220 yards and four touchdowns during the teamâs preseason.
âLast year, we ran Aaron on defense, but this year, he is our running back,â Frye said. âHe has helped our running game.â
Catawba County even improved its special teams.
Quarterback Brandon Streater will remain on the field for extra points and may even attempt field gals, if needed.
âWeâve added Brandon for our kicking game, which we wished we had all of last year,â Frye said. âWeâve got it this year. In the two games weâve played, he has made four of his six attempts. We luckily havenât had to go for a field goal in the two games weâve played.â
This year, the CCFL, which the Hornets have played in since its inception in 2006, underwent some major changes.
The Morganton Bobcats and five other teams left the CCFL.
In its place, the league picked up five new teams, including the Carolina Colts (Charlotte), Carolina Hawks (Fayetteville), Triangle Nighthawks (Raleigh) and Upstate Vikings (Spartanburg, S.C.).
The only returning teams to the league this year are the Hornets and the Carolina Heat, out of Greensboro.
Hornets free safety and wideout Chris Spikes said not having a knowledge of the competition will be the biggest hurdle he and his teammates will have to overcome.
âI think itâll be a challenge because we have some unfamiliar teams,â said Spikes, who played football at Shelby High. âItâll be good for us both. We play them more them once. When we play them the first time, we need to try to make a few adjustments and change some things up the second time. I think it is going to make for a good conference.â
Hornets wide receiver Centrail Williamson, a Bunker Hill High product, said the change in schedule will be different.
âItâs an adjustment,â Williamson said. âEvery game is different. Youâve just got to play according to the team. What they give you, youââve got to take it one step at a time and one team at a time.â
Despite the changes, defender Christopher Ferguson said the teamâs mindset has remained the same.
âThere really arenât any goals from last year to this year that have changed for the team,â Ferguson said. âEveryone is on the same page. Hopefully, the whole season goes good, and we go back to Nationals again.â
The Hornets had 30 players show up for practice on Wednesday â the most in recent memory.
Defensive lineman Jarrod Holmes said the increase in participation drives himself and his teammates to work harder.
âIt really motivates us,â Holmes said. âThat letâs us know that no spot is guaranteed. There is always someone behind you trying to work to get your spot. Last year, it wasnât like that. Guys didnât show up at practice. On game day, they came and played. This year, if guys donât show up, they get replaced. Youâve got to step your game up.â
Catawba County opens up its season Saturday in Gaffney, S.C. against the Vikings. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.View more articles in: