Sports Shorts for November 25

Metrolina pair to play in Oasis Shrine Bowl

So much for tempering expectations as a first-year football program.

Metrolina Christian’s Ross Rushing and Jeremy Herba were selected to play in the 2011 Oasis Shriners All-Star Classic, an all-star format showcase pitting 33 of North Carolina’s top private-school senior football players against their counterparts from South Carolina.

The game is slated for 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 25 at south Charlotte’s Charlotte Country Day School.

“I was ecstatic (when I found out they were selected),” said first-year Metrolina Christian coach Thomas Langley. “I knew – there was no doubt in my mind – that both of those kids could play on a very high level. They’re two of the hardest workers we have, and their skill sets in our system allowed them to shine and be the leaders. It was a great moment when the (Shrine Bowl) coaches called me.”

Rushing, the Warriors’ quarterback, completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,803 yards and 15 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He also rushed 129 times for 1,280 yards and another 15 scores.

Herba, the team’s top cornerback, collected 71 tackles, one sack, recovered three fumbles and recorded 13 pass breakups with two interceptions, one of which he returned for a score.

The duo’s inclusion in the all-star event, while special for the players, also serves as a good omen for the fledgling program that finished the season 5-4.

“I thought it was a great first season,” said Langley. “We worked pretty hard in the offseason to make sure we had a good year. You can attribute that solely to our kids and how hard they worked. Usually, if you put that much hard work into it, you’re going to reap the benefits.

“For our program to have two kids named to the Shrine Bowl in our first varsity season, I thought, was pretty special.”

Pirates prep for Mooresville

With their 31-28 nail-biting win over Winston-Salem Mt. Tabor last week, the Porter Ridge football team advanced to the fourth round of the Class 4A playoffs. On Friday, Nov. 25, the Pirates are scheduled to host Mooresville for the opportunity to play in the Class 4A state title game on Saturday, Dec. 3, at Wake Forest University.

“It’s another great matchup for us,” said Porter Ridge coach Blair Hardin. “It’s going to be a hard-nosed game. It’s going to be a good, old-fashioned football game between two teams that are obviously fighting to compete the following week, and it’s going to be a dog fight.

“You know what you’re getting (in Mooresville): a good team that’s well-coached. Obviously, you have to prepare or you’ll get your butt kicked. (Mooresville coach Hal Capps) has proven that on many occasions. It’s a great challenge.”

But playing at this time of year presents its own unique challenges, such as preparing for a game during a holiday week. Union County Public Schools were out of session for three days this week (Wednesday through Friday), but Hardin said he is focusing on keeping things as routine as possible to cut down on distractions.

“We try to not worry about things we can’t control,” Hardin said. “We want to just stay routine and keep the kids relaxed and just focus on, hopefully, a simple game plan for us.”

But Hardin also said the players and coaches all learned a valuable lesson during last year’s state playoffs, when the Pirates advanced to the state semifinals but lost, 21-14, to Mocksville’s Davie High.

“We’ve tried to be smarter with our mental preparation and physically, we’ve kind of backed off a little bit,” Hardin said. “Instead of going longer at practice, we’ve just tried to fine-tune things and keep our kids fresh.”

Instead, said Hardin, the team has maximized shorter practice times with a more efficient approach. Practices this week have been shorter but faster.

“Really, at this time of year, we’ve spent a lot more time looking at film than practicing to really try to evaluate our opponent and try to pick up tendencies so the kids can see it and really understand and know their opponent,” Hardin said.

The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m.

Yes I Can Basketball Christmas Camps

Marlene Jeter, who won a national championship playing for the University of Tennessee from 1990-92, will help direct a girls-only Christmas Basketball camp at south Charlotte’s Covenant Presbyterian Church. The camp will take place Dec. 27-29.

Several camps for boys also will be held during the Christmas break, including the popular five-day Scrimmage Only Camp, the Shooting Camp and the Guard Skills Camp.

For enrollment information and more details, visit www.yesicanbasketball.com.

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