ATLANTA – Pinecrest Academy scored six times on the ground in its season opening 42-15 win Friday at North Springs.
As a whole, Pinecrest (1-0) rushed for over 300 yards, led by junior quarterback Ryan McCarthy, who had 101 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns.
“It felt good,” McCarthy said. “It felt real good. Everyone was very united as a team.”
McCarthy was not the only one to get in on all of the running, and he was sure to give them credit as well.
“No one was being selfish,” McCarthy said. “No matter what happened. Whether I ran, whether Mitchell (Ojeda) ran, whether Michael (Birozes) ran it. It didn’t matter. Whether Greg Varhese ran it, it didn’t matter. We were just really united as a team. Everyone was hyped up. The line came out, played really, really, really well. I can’t thank them enough.”
While the Paladins’ running game was in full-force, their passing game was not. McCarthy went just 1 of 7 passing for 35 yards and an interception, with the one completion not coming until the second half.
“Our plan is actually to throw it,” said Pinecrest head coach Todd Winter. “We had some open receivers, but we are getting better at it. Ryan has a tremendous arm, and we have great receivers, and our passing game is coming along just fine in my opinion.”
Winter said it was a great effort and win all around as a team, and they did a lot of things well in the game.
“Number one, we took care of the football,” Winter said. “We had one turnover tonight. An interception. Ryan (McCarthy) threw it off his back leg, but we ran that same play later and had a big completion in the third quarter to Michael Birozes. I think that was huge.
“I think we dominated the field position game, which was important. And our defense was really relentless. They are a much faster team than us. It was definitely a team win.”
Ojeda, Varhese, Birozes and Jake Mangan all had rushing touchdowns to go along with McCarthy’s two for the Paladins. Varhese led all runners with 15 carries.
Pinecrest was up 42-0 before North Springs managed to get on the board in the fourth quarter with a couple of late scores – a 72-yard touchdown strike from junior quarterback Rees Viersen to senior receiver Derrien Wright, then a one-yard touchdown run by Viersen.
Junior running back Justin Ruiz led the North Springs running game with 58 yards on 11 carries, and Wright led all receivers with 113 yards on just three catches.