Davie County football hopes to build on 12-2 season
By Dennis Davidson
Davie County is coming off a great football year and now opens a brand new high school, complete with new athletics facilities. Sure, there were key losses due to graduation, but there are also key performers ready to step into starring roles.
Leading the way is head coach Tim Devericks, who took over midway through last season, due to the sudden resignation of Devore Holman. Devericks had been Holman’s defensive coordinator and the War Eagles did not skip a beat, racing into the playoffs.
Davie was 7-1 in its first eight games last year under Holman, and 5-1 under Devericks. Both losses were to perennial power Greensboro Dudley, including a 54-30 defeat in the third round of the state 4A playoffs. Dudley went on to win the state title, 54-0, over Cape Fear.
Devericks was the man for the job, but he downplays the credit.
“We have a great staff here and as far as last year, I just asked them to pitch in to keep the ship sailing — and that’s what they did, so I commend them on a great job,” said Devericks. “We’re just looking to build off that momentum and just keep working to get better than every day.”
When he took over the reins, Devericks relied on the senior leadership quarterback Chris Reynolds, linebacker James Boyle and tackle Luke Pratapas, among others.
And while Reynolds was a Division I talent (2,514 yards passing and 355 rushing) and is currently practicing as a freshman at Charlotte, he was injured for several games in 2016. That allowed Josh Hall to get some valuable playing time as a junior.
Hall got the nod in last Friday’s season opener against Page, but another senior, Ben Summers, is also in the mix.
“We’re just looking for Josh to read defenses, make good decisions and know what he’s going to do with the football,” said Devericks. “We also have Ben, who is a little bit different and we going to ask him to do some different things than Josh. We’ve got a good battle going there but decided that Josh start the first game.”
Davie’s leading rusher from 2016 does return, maybe better than ever. Hard-running Peyton Hampton, a 6-3, 220-pound junior, gained 772 yards and scored 10 times for the 12-2 War Eagles. According to Devericks, Hampton can top those numbers this season.
“Peyton has gotten stronger and faster over the offseason and we’re looking for a lot of big things out of him,” said Devericks. “Obviously, he had a great year last year but he has the ability to improve on his accomplishments.
“And Adrian Cranfill will run the ball for us,” continued Devericks. “He played some as a true freshman last year (650 yards, 4 TDs) and did some great things for us. He’s worked hard during the offseason and I would think with him and Peyton in the backfield, that will give us a lot of options back there.”
Possibly Davie’s most explosive player, wide receiver Cooper Wall, is coming off an knee (ACL) injury, suffered last basketball season. He also missed two games last year with a cracked rib.
When healthy, Wall, a 6-2, 180-pound senior, is a difference maker. He and Reynolds had a great chemistry, catching 60 passes for 937 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“Cooper has about a week and a half left and then he’ll be fully released,” Devericks said on Aug. 15. “We’ll be without him the first game or two, but when he comes back … let’s just say he’s itchin’ to go. He’s running routes on his own right now on the side but he can’t wait to get back on the field.”
Those offensive weapons will need blocking and with Pratapas gone, the line will be anchored by senior left tackle Ross Starnes (6-0, 230). Sophomore Grant Copeland (6-4, 250) is the center. Copeland got some valuable experience late last year as a freshman.
Another senior, Preston Robertson (6-3, 330), will play guard and at other times, center, spelling Copeland.
On defense, linebacker Cody Hendrix, a 6-1, 205-pound senior, should become the leader, having learned from the departed Boyle, who set Davie records for career tackles (497) and and season stops (206). Together, Hendrix and Boyle, now a freshman at Davidson, created havoc for opponents in 2016.
“Cody played next to James last year and should be able to step up right where James was and make the plays,” said Devericks. “He had a great season last year and I expect him to continue that good work.”
Also at linebacker is senior Broc Barnette (6-2, 185). Barnette saw heavy action last season and “he’s another one on defense that we expect big things from after the good year he had at outside linebacker,” said Devericks. “This year, he’s getting reps at the safety spot as well.”
The defensive line has junior Ronald Wilson (6-3, 330) and senior Jalen Redmond (6-2, 235), a three-year starter.
The secondary has junior free safety Hite Merrifield (6-3, 190) returning. “Hite was All-Northwest last year and led the team in interceptions (six), so we expect another big year from him,” said Devericks.
On special teams, Davie graduated dependable kicker Jared Griggs, who booted 15 field goals and scored 87 points last season. Devericks said that Griggs’ replacement will be either junior Skyler Schoppe or freshman Guillermo Moure. Barnette is expected to handle the punting duties.
Devericks said that opening the new school has attitudes and expectations running very high in Mocksville.
“It’s going great,” said Devericks. “We moved into our new school and we getting adjusted to that and the kids have been working hard. There is excitement running through the halls and the locker room and facilities are awesome. And the home games are going to create even more excitement.”
Davie lost to Page in the home opener last Friday, 20-14, in overtime. The War Eagles travel to North Davidson this Friday and host Mooresville on Sept. 1.
Davie makes two consecutive trips to Rowan County this season, going to West Rowan on Sept. 8 and Carson on Sept. 15.
NOTES: Merrifield, who has verbally committed to Wake Forest for baseball, is the brother of Kansas City Royals’ second baseman Whit Merrifield. … Devericks is from Medina, Ohio, and played football and graduated from Hiram College in Ohio. … Devericks is in his 16th year in the Davie County Schools’ system and 11th at the high school.