Are You Ready for Some Football?

Ryan Whelan (3) pushes the ball ahead for the Golden Knights on Sunday against the Storm. (Phillip Greene Photo)

Ryan Whelan (3) pushes the ball ahead for the Golden Knights on Sunday against the Storm. (Phillip Greene Photo)

The wait is over.  After weeks of anticipation, the Carolina Golden Knights got their inaugural season underway on Sunday afternoon; taking on the Burke County Storm in their first NSAFL (North South American Football League) action.  Months of preparation, hours of man-power, and lots of heart have gone into getting the Golden Knights prepared for this season; and it was gratifying to see them take the field as a team in their first action as an organized club.

Team Director and Starting QB, Stephen Whittington stated during the contest, “We did it.  I’m proud of these guys for the work they’ve put in.”  Whittington in a statement earlier in the week had said, “From where we started in January, looking back on everything these guys have done to get us here, from the money they have invested to the hours of lost family time they have given in practice, no matter what the score reads Sunday evening I am proud to be a part of this team and just by taking the field Sunday when so many said It would never happen, to me they have already won.”

Whittington echoed those sentiments on Sunday when the Knights finally took to the gridiron to face off against the Burke Storm from Drexel.  The game was nip/tuck for the first few minutes of action, with neither defense willing to give in to the offensive pressure being provided on both sides of the field.  The Storm took the opening kick and started driving, but on the third play from scrimmage, Kyle Burris from Yancey County was able to pull down the interception for the Knights near mid-field.  Minutes later the Storm would get the ball back, but were unable to move down the field…and were forced to punt.  The punt pinned the Knights deep in their own territory, and a fumbled snap recovered in the endzone put the Burke Storm up 7-0 following the extra point.

The Knights would again attack, and would keep the Storm at bay for a while, but a great play for the Storm found a wide open receiver streaking down the sideline and catching the ball in the endzone to put the Storm up 13-0.  It would stay that way for the remainder of the half.

At the break the crowd had filled in nicely along the banks at the Cranberry Complex, and the Knights were finally getting a much needed break.  The Knights had only been able to fully complete two or three padded practices during their preparation…leaving them at a slight disadvantage on the field, as their opponent had already gotten a game under their belts.  The second half started out strong with both teams struggling at first, but a couple of key turnovers and the Storm had a 28-0 lead on the Knights.

Team Director and Quarterback Stephen Whittington (#13) drops back for pass during Sunday's contest (Phillip Greene Photo)

Team Director and Quarterback Stephen Whittington (#13) drops back for pass during Sunday's contest (Phillip Greene Photo)

In the final stanza the Knights had fought diligently, but the Storm was able to capitalize against the Knight defense with just over 9 minutes remaining in the contest, putting in another score to boost the score to 34-0.  Joe Buchanan would keep it at 34, blocking the extra point attempt; the Knight’s second of the game, keeping the Storm from adding to their lead.  A final surge and the Storm would again cross the goal line, putting up their final score of the day and pushing the margin to 41-0 at the final whistle.

There were many positives that came out of Sunday’s contest, not the least of which was the crowd that showed up in support of the High Country’s newest sports team.  The team has worked hard to get to the point they are at, putting much of their own time and plenty of their own funds into getting the equipment and field maintenance taken care of.  Congratulations to Steve and the rest of the boys on their success of getting this team started and we’re looking forward to what is in store over the next few weeks.  The Knights’ next contest will be Saturday, June 20, at 6 PM in Kernersville against the Carolina Renegades.  They will return home on June 27, as they host the Catawba Hornets, at the Athletic Complex at Old Cranberry High School

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