By Cole Rogers
For the Forsyth County News
Pinecrest Academy came off a short week after playing a rescheduled game against Athens Christian on Monday, and the Paladins weren’t able to get anything rolling Friday against Whitefield Academy, falling 27-0.
During the first half, neither team was able to make much happen offensively. The lone score came from a Whitefield quarterback Ayden Duncanson’s 62-yard touchdown pass.
Whitefield had 294 total rushing yards for the game, and the majority of that came in the second half. Pinecrest’s thin roster couldn’t stop the run as time went on, so Whitefield kept pounding the ball.
Pinecrest struggled to put together a sustained drive throughout the game and only had 79 total yards of offense.
The offensive line wasn’t able to give much time to quarterback Bryce Balthaser, resulting in a lot of quick passes and sacks. Balthaser went 5 of 13 for 32 yards and three interceptions.
However, the Paladins did have a couple of players step up and play well, Nikitas Missos being the most notable. In his very first game for Pinecrest, he recorded three interceptions and a handful of tackles.
“(Missos) kept telling me he could play ball, so I told him to come out,” Pinecrest coach Terance Mathis said. “Two days later, he’s in a walk-through, then tonight he has three interceptions. He didn’t even practice, and I think that’s a testament of him and it’s phenomenal.”
Missos isn’t just new to the Pinecrest football team, he’s new to the state of Georgia. He’s only lived in Cumming for about a month after moving from Youngstown, Ohio, one day before school started.
Even without a single practice, Missos was confident and prepared coming into this game.
“I tried to be positive, take one thing at a time, and trust in my teammates,” Missos said. “We know we can do a lot better, though. We have a lot more potential and positive things going on,”
Although Pinecrest didn’t play well, that isn’t the most important thing in Coach Mathis’ mind.
“At the end of the day, it’s not about winning games or losing games; it’s about 23 kids fighting their butts off, and I can live with that.” Mathis said. “If this is what we’re going to be for the rest of the year, then we win. You can’t put a win and a loss on that.”
The Paladins look to keep improving and gain some momentum for the middle of their schedule where they had some success last year.
“They’re going to have bigger, faster, more talented kids than ours, but I guarantee you ain’t none of them tougher than our guys right here” Mathis said. “That is just passion, hard work, and a never quit attitude.”
Pinecrest (0-3) will host Walker on Sept. 27 for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.