Aggressive. Fast-paced. Precise. These are just a few words to describe this year’s N.C. Central University Eagles football team.
The three-time defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) champions participated in their second preseason Maroon vs. White scrimmage Saturday at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium.
These new-look Eagles have lost many of its All-Conference players such as quarterback Malcolm Bell, defensive back Mike Jones and offensive lineman Carl Jones. However, they bring back other big-time playmakers like junior running back Ramone Simpson, senior linebacker Reggie Hunter and sophomore offensive lineman Nick Leverett. Due to losing 11 starters on both sides of the ball, many young players must step up and grow into their new roles.
These young Eagles are a competitive group, and it showed during much of the action. Players jarred at one another in the aftermath of big plays. No one was showing any signs of weakness, with both sides trying to prove which was superior. It was a back-and-forth battle going on between the Maroon (defense) and White (offense) Squads.
White Squad struck first with a big run by sophomore quarterback Micah Zander, setting his team up in good field goal position. The field goal attempt was missed, allowing Maroon Squad to pat themselves on the back.
The scrimmage ended in spectacular fashion with the Maroon squad making a game-saving interception in the end zone.
Head coach Jerry Mack said he liked “the way (his team) flew around and competed” most after the scrimmage.
“We slowed it down a little bit today, went out a lot of guys, and you could see it start to come together and gel some,” Mack said.
Despite being tapped to finish first in the MEAC, this team must gel in order to defend its championship and bring a fourth consecutive title back to Eagleland.
The Eagles face their first challenge against the Duke Blue Devils in the annual Bull City Gridiron Classic on Sept. 2.