After the Pinecrest Paladins finished warming up before their Friday night matchup against Fellowship Christian, the team re-entered the locker room to find their lockers draped with new jet black uniforms, a much anticipated surprise from the Pinecrest athletic department.
After donning their brand new threads, Pinecrest stormed on to the field in front of a vocal home crowd “Between the Pines” on Homecoming night and took care of business against Fellowship in a 34-21 victory to remain unbeaten in the sub-region.
“I felt a lot of excitement,” Pinecrest coach Todd Winters said after his team unveiled their new uniforms. “We knew we wanted to do this ‘black-out.’ The entire student body got black shirts at the pep rally. We warmed up in green, changed into the black jerseys and the energy was incredible.”
Pinecrest (7-1, 5-0) was highly efficient on offense, scoring touchdowns on each of their four first half possessions. Fellowship (4-4, 2-2) was thoroughly outmatched early, only finding success deep into the contest after the game was well out of reach.
Pinecrest senior captain Mitchell Ojeda (6 carries, 58 yards, 3 TDs) put on the performance of the evening, accounting for three scores of his own in the first half. Ojeda was a threat on either side of the ball, hammering home two rushing scores to go alongside an interception return for a touchdown.
“I guess I have to just stay focused,” Ojeda said when asked about his dual roles. “Hydration, that’s important, and just doing my job. Matt Walters (and) Ryan McCarthy both put me in good position numerous times.”
On his first drive, Pinecrest quarterback McCarthy made sure his team’s enthusiasm translated into on-field production, shouldering his offense and leading them for an early first quarter score. On third-and-13 inside Fellowship territory, McCarthy kept the ball himself and shrugged off multiple tackles, powering his way downfield for an impressive 36-yard touchdown run, staking Pinecrest to a 7-0 lead.
After the McCarthy score, Ojeda began his playmaking streak on the following drive, intercepting an overthrown Fellowship pass and racing it back 35 yards for a touchdown. Later in the second quarter, Ojeda found pay dirt twice more on rushes of 29 and 16 yards respectively.
Not to be outdone by their offense, the Pinecrest defense stifled the Fellowship attack for the majority of the contest. In the second quarter, sophomore linebacker Brooks Binkley foiled an attempted Fellowship screen pass, intercepting the ball and setting up Ojeda’s second rushing touchdown of the quarter.
Walters complimented Ojeda’s outing with some tough running of his own, racking up close to 100 yards on the ground and punching in a 3-yard score midway through the second quarter. When the dust finally settled, Pinecrest held a 34-7 lead going in to halftime.
Fellowship finally got the ball rolling midway through the fourth quarter, putting up two scores in the fading moments of the game. But due to their commanding lead, Winters clarified that the game plan and pace of his squad purposely changed in the second half.
“It’s tough when you jump out on somebody like that,” Winters said. “We worked on some stuff in the second half that we don’t normally do, to get it on tape and to (avoid) putting guys in harm’s way.”
Friday’s win marked the 100th overall victory for Winter. Pinecrest will travel to Alpharetta next week to take on 1-7 King’s Ridge Christian.