For the 32nd season, the Catawba County Hornets prepare to compete on the gridiron.
The former club team of Lenoir-Rhyne will trying to improve upon its 9-6 record and fifth-place finish in the Central Carolinas Football League from a season ago.
Doug Fry, owner and coach for the Hornets, has been a part of the team for every season of its existence.
“We are a club football team,” Fry said. “We aren’t semi-pro because they don’t get paid to play. So it doesn’t hurt their eligibility. They're still eligible to go to college.”
Players from the group have went back to college, played arena football and Canadian football.
Members of this year’s team range in age from 18-26. Even with such a young team, Fry likes his team’s chances.
“We are hoping to improve on last year,” Fry said. “Naturally, when you start a season off, your goal is to go undefeated. With this team, I think we can accomplish that. There is a lot of young talent.”
Greg “Flea” Covington, a member of the Hornets’ defense, says he has seen the team grow over the years.
“I’ve played on this team a long time,” Covington said. “I’ve seen us go from 4-7 to 8-5 quick by adding a couple of players. The more people we get out here playing, the better we get.”
Fry says one characteristic on the team sticks out above the rest.
“Our team is going to be built on speed,” Fry said. “We are a fast team. I think our team won’t have one standout player. It will be a team accomplishment. These boys are playing as a team. This is the most togetherness I’ve had in five years.”
Quarterback Jamell Jeffries, a former standout at St. Stephens, is one of a few local athletes that are members of the Hornets.
“We all gel together for some reason,” Jeffries said. “I think it’s meant for us to get a championship ring on our finger.”
Covington says he and his teammates are thinking about one thing before the Hornets kick off their season Saturday in Morganton.
“Our thoughts are 1-0 and working on improving during the rest of the week,” Covington said. “We are trying to win a championship from here on out.”