By: Brad Cole
Coming off a record-setting year where they won seven games and sent multiple players off to the college ranks, the North Henderson Knights football team is sharply focused on its 2016 campaign with a new and more exciting program.
Now, with new faces all around, and a new coach, check out a quick preview of your 2016 Knight football team.
This year there will be a different face running the show after Jason Dinwiddie left for T.C. Roberson.
Coach Justin Clark takes on his first head coaching position at the age of 31 to pick up where the program left off last season. Wins won’t come easy for the young Knight team, but Clark is perfectly qualified to keep on building the program and fight for plenty of victories.
The offensive-driven coach has football in his DNA. Clark played the quarterback position at Western Carolina from 2002 until 2007 after graduating from North Gaston High School. After his playing days, Clark went on to coach with Boiling Springs and Gaffney High School in South Carolina, and also Northview High school in Georgia.
Different Year, Same Teams:
As the Knights are going into their last year in the WNCAC, they’ll see the same teams as usual. They face off against familiar foes in West and East Henderson away this season, and Hendersonville at home, they’ll also play Polk County, Tuscola, Franklin, Brevard, Pisgah and Smoky Mountain.
Young Players, But Plenty of Talent:
After sending multiple talented players off to college last season, North is inheriting younger players on both sides of the field.
For starters, sophomore Kalin Ensley is taking the reins as quarterback in his first year as a full-time starter. The up and coming talented thrower is coming off a season where he threw 220 yards and two touchdowns in four games as a freshman filling in at the end of 2015. This year, he expects to do the same, but be even better and more influential towards his team. “I should play good team football always try to do what’s best for the team and the situations that are put in front of me”, Ensley said.
Wide receiver Darren Lammons also looks to use his experience to benefit the young Knight offense. The junior is entering his third season as a varsity member after he was a key contributor in North’s season with 516 receiving yards and 683 all-purpose yards. The three-sport athlete thinks the Knights will produce a another great season. “We are more athletic than last year, and, honestly, [we] have a better coaching staff. They’re more organized and know what we gotta get done”, Lammons said with confidence. A speed demon like Lammons will be a driving force for the Knights all season long. His ability to chase down the ball from anywhere on the field makes him a threat to any of his opponents.
The roster as a whole will feature 61 players on J.V. and Varsity combined, with about eight of those players being new to the game of football. They are returning four offense and three defensive starters this season. The coach sees his players gaining talent each and every day. “It Is truly awesome watching these young boys grow into men in front your eyes”, Clark said.
From the first time the team met in the spring when they shook off their football rust, to the 90 degree summer practices, the Knights have worked for and expect success in their new era. The Knights are “hungry” as Clark said. They’ll get to work and look to feast on the competition this Friday when they host the T.C. Roberson Rams to kick off the season.