By Reagan Perry | Special Correspondent
APA earns fourth straight trip to state football title game.
The varsity football team crushed St. David’s School Friday in the NCISAA playoffs semifinals, 54-40, earning the Patriots a chance to compete for a “three-peat” as defending state champs.
Senior LB Holden Killinger said that making it to the Patriot’s fourth consecutive championship game shows “how important this is to the team and how much we all enjoy playing.”
As the stands filled up with students and parents eager to cheer the Patriots on to a win, the game did not begin smoothly for Coach Matt Beaman’s squad.
APA’s first possession was not successful and they were forced to punt the ball, allowing St. David’s to get on the scoreboard first with a 7-0 lead.
The Patriots struck back with a 45-yard TD run by junior RB Shy Thompson.
APA sophomore Trey McLawhorn then got a two-point conversion to put the Patriots in the lead, 8-7.
Before the end of the first quarter, the Warriors scored again and stole the lead back at 14-8.
At the start of the Second quarter, senior Christian Jones scored a TD for the Patriots and the game was tied at 14-14.
SDS got the ball back, but its drive was stopped with an interception by APA’s senior DB Zach Sylvia.
The INT set the Patriots up with good field position and two plays later senior QB Connor Bright carried the ball into the end zone to put the Patriots up, 22-14.
Just before the end of the first half, Killinger, Parrott’s top tackler and defensive leader, went down with an injury to his leg.
The Kinston native had to be carried off the field for medical attention and was not able to return to the game.
Before the end of the first half, the Patriots were up 40-21 after a safety and two TDs (one for Jones and one for Thompson).
After half-time, the Patriots never looked back.
Bright and his favorite target, senior WR AJ Banker each scored a TD to put 54 points on the board for APA.
St. David’s tried to make a come-back late in the game, but the Patriots held strong.
With this victory, the Parrott Academy Patriots (9-1) will advance to the state championship on Saturday, Nov. 11.
The Patriots will face the only team that has beaten them this year, Rocky Mount Academy (11-0).
Now the team must focus on preparing for the game on Saturday.
“We (the team) have to stay focused on containing Rocky Mount’s quarterback,” said Banker.
Bright said that “the team will have to be efficient and limit penalties when we play Saturday.”
Killinger will not be able to play Saturday, but he will be on the sidelines to encourage his team.
Kick-off is at at 6:00pm Saturday at APA.