High School foot­ball pre­views

Times-Record - - Front Page - By DAVID INSLEY dins­ley@star­dem.com Fol­low me on Twit­ter: @the­da­vidins­ley‹

RIDGELY — Hav­ing a pair of Divi­sion-I-col­lege-com­mit­ted play­ers on a team can spoil a coach. But North Caro­line High head foot­ball coach James McCormick is still keep­ing his feet on the ground com­ing into 2017.

“Oh, hav­ing a cou­ple of guys like David [Bai­ley] and Ja’Mion [Franklin] is def­i­nitely a nice thing to have,” McCormick said. “But two guys won’t win you ev­ery game. They might win a game here or there, but we’ve still got 20 other po­si­tions to fill on the field.”

Bai­ley, the Bull­dogs’ tail­back, will be headed to Bos­ton Col­lege next year, while Franklin, a de­fen­sive tackle, is bound for the Uni­ver­sity of Notre Dame. The for­mer has been with the pro­gram since his promis­ing fresh­man year in 2014, while the lat­ter, re­cruited away by Bal­ti­more-area parochial Gil­man for his sopho­more sea­son, chose to re­turn last year to be with his friends un­til grad­u­a­tion.

Their im­pact over the last two sea­sons has been felt by ev­ery­one they’ve faced on the grid­iron. Bai­ley, a threat to score even when he’s on de­fense, has played al­most ev­ery po­si­tion at one point, while Franklin, who’s also seen time over the years as an of­fen­sive line­man, is a pan­cake spe­cial­ist and run stop­per with speed and size.

The Bull­dogs, who open their sea­son Sept. 1 at Wi­comico High at 6:30 p.m., will need con­tri­bu­tions from the rest of the team, though, McCormick said, if they want to “be there at the end of the sea­son.”

“You’re not used to hav­ing kids like that,” McCormick said of Bai­ley and Franklin. “It’s nice. They do spe­cial things; you can’t coach that. [But] the rest of the guys on the team, they know it’s go­ing to take all of us.”

De­spite the ap­par­ent lux­ury of hav­ing a pair of su­per­stars, one able to lead on each side of the ball, the Bull­dog coach added, “our guys on the team, they know how good they are, but we also un­der­stand that if you have two kids like that, they’re tar­gets. Peo­ple are gonna say, ‘Hey, he’s D-1, let’s see how good he re­ally is.’”

On the of­fen­sive side, quar­ter­back Cody Pep­per will run the tried-and-true wing-T of­fen­sive scheme the Bull­dogs have kept through­out McCormick’s 17-sea­son ten­ure as head coach.

Ju­nior Casey Byrd will be back­ing up Pep­per; his older brother, Cameron, led the team to its firstever state semi­fi­nal ap­pear­ance two sea­sons ago.

Join­ing Bai­ley in the back­field will be se­nior full­back Tyler Bauer, ju­nior Joey Bild­stein, and se­niors Tynez Warner and Zack Smith.

Cam Brown will be one of sev­eral wide­outs play­ing the po­si­tion “by com­mit­tee,” ac­cord­ing to McCormick. Ju­nior Tucker Stevens will play tight end.

Cen­ter Jack Webb is flanked by fel­low se­niors, in guards Alex Grable and Ja­cob Brown. “We’re still fig­ur­ing out for sure who our tack­les’ll be,” McCormick said.

Of­fen­sively, McCormick added, the of­fen­sive line “is a work in progress. We’ve got some good kids; we’re try­ing to find a lit­tle depth. The more kids you have, the more they play to­gether, the bet­ter they get.”

Bai­ley will han­dle the punt­ing du­ties, with Will Man­ship look­ing to be the team’s place kicker and han­dling PATs.

The Bull­dogs bring back their 4-4 de­fen­sive set, ac­com­pa­nied by a pair of cor­ners and a lone safety in “cen­ter field,” as some call it.

Warner looks to take the lone start­ing safety spot, with Bild­stein ro­tat­ing in for time there as well; se­niors Seth Tay­lor and Jer­maine Carter, along with ju­nior Will Man­ship, look to be the cor­ner­backs.

Franklin, along with trans­fer Brendin Gestole, who moved into the area re­cently after play­ing for Queen Anne’s County High, will be joined on the line by de­fen­sive ends Tris­tan Adams, a ju­nior, and 6-foot4 sopho­more Ken­dron Way­man.

Way­man, who also made his bones as a paint player for the bas­ket­ball team last win­ter, start­ing as a fresh­man, will play tight end as well and has a tremen­dous up­side ac­cord­ing to his coach.

“He’s got a lot of po­ten­tial,” McCormick said. “He’s got a 4.0 GPA, he’s got good feet, he’s re­ally ath­letic. I think he’s pos­si­bly our next big prospect.”

Bauer, De­shay Reese, and Noah Jef­fers, se­niors all, will ro­tate as in­side back­ers, with Owen Joseph at the weak side and Zach Smith on strong.

The Bull­dogs’ sched­ule, McCormick says, “is the tough­est in the Bay­side. I re­ally think it is.”

Start­ing at Wi-Hi, North Caro­line re­turns home in Week 2 to take on an­other Sal­is­bur y area high school, Park­side. North Caro­line then vis­its Cam­bridge and Queen Anne’s, and wraps up a five-game Septem­ber with a home tilt against Stephen De­catur.

The sec­ond half in­cludes a trip to Eas­ton, a Week 7 home game against Kent County, a Thurs­day night Week 8 game at James M. Ben­nett, and a huge home game on Oct. 27 against Kent Is­land.

The 14th an­nual Su­per­in­ten­dent’s Cup game takes place in Week 10 when county ri­val Colonel Richard­son comes to town.

Look­ing at the sched­ule, McCormick said, isn’t some­thing he does a lot be­yond the next team up, though he and his coaches have dis­cussed it a bit.

“We kind of break it up into two halves,” McCormick said, “and look at what do we have to do in the first half to give our­selves a chance [at mak­ing the play­offs] in the sec­ond half.

“The first half we’ve got some tough games. Wi-Hi’s not a slouch; Park­side’s gonna be good. Cam­bridge is al­ways a fight ... Queen Anne’s is gonna be Queen Anne’s. ... They’re go­ing to be pretty good, and ... a slightly im­proved De­catur,” McCormick ex­plained. “We’ve got to take care of some busi­ness in the first five weeks to put our­selves in a good po­si­tion. But we’ll see. It’s a long sea­son; we’ve got to stay healthy. We’ll fig­ure it out as we go.”


North Caro­line High’s foot­ball team will call on run­ning back Tyler Bauer (left) and quar­ter­back Cody Pep­per (with ball) to help cre­ate of­fense dur­ing the 2017 sea­son.

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