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PIKEVILLE — The C. B. Aycock High varsity football team picked up a bit more weight Monday morning.
With the fourth day of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s August practice period taking place under cloudy skies, the Golden Falcons donned shoulder pads for the first time.
Similar to the first three days, CBA caught a break with the weather. A projected 80% chance of rain and thunderstorms during the morning hours Sunday night dissipated to cloudy conditions by Monday, taking oppressive humidity out of the equation and leaving the Falcons with favorable conditions to conduct repetitions on both sides of the ball.
“Going in the mornings, we’ve been lucky,” seventh-year CBA head coach Steve Brooks said. “The weather has really been helpful. It allows us to get all our installs and work in. The only countereffect to it is, once we do go back to school, having to deal with dealing with the humidity and the wet balls and all that stuff. It usually takes kids about a week to a week and a half to get acclimated. We’ve got good numbers and we’re ready to roll.”
CBA, still searching for the first winning season in the Brooks era, enters 2019 with a balance of 37 candidates in both the varsity and junior varsity programs. The Falcons closed 2018 with wins in three of their final five games to return to the 3-A playoffs, giving them a 5-7 record and the current high-water mark for the former Ayden-Grifton offensive coordinator.
Aside from steady participation in both programs, Brooks expressed satisfaction with the commitment level of those under his watch.
“I’m happy with the numbers,” Brooks said. “I feel like I’ve got kids that love football and want to be here, and not just filling out uniforms and wanting to be on the team. That’s the big thing — we just don’t have experienced depth on the (offensive) and (defensive) line.”
While avoiding injuries is paramount for any team in high school football, CBA was arguably hit harder in that regard last season after now-senior quarterback Clay Matthews was lost for the season in the fourth game of the year against Goldsboro.
Not only did CBA have to get another signal caller ready in Alijuan Moore, but Hurricane Florence ensured that CBA wouldn’t return to the field until three weeks later against 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference stalwart Greenville Rose.
Matthews is back now, allowing Moore to move to wide receiver. Senior Taevian Jackson, who ran for 1,418 yards and 14 TDs as a junior, gives the Falcons a bedrock in the backfield.
“The returning pieces are there,” Brooks said. “They’ve just got to get fine tuned in what we’ve done and the tweaks and changes we’ve made to a few things. They should have big years.”
CBA boasts stability amongst its returning assistant coaches, with Bryan Wallen (associate head coach/defensive coordinator), Joseph Otellio (defensive line/assistant head coach), James Hawley (offensive line/head junior varsity coach), A.J. Mundle (defensive line), Marvin Poindexter (wide receivers), Randy Pate (running backs) and Gerald Whisenhunt (defensive backs).
The Falcons will take part in a pair of jamborees, hosting Fike, Ayden-Grifton, North Lenoir, Newton Grove Hobbton and Wilmington Laney on Aug. 12 at Hardy Talton Stadium. They will visit Jacksonville Northside for the MFCU Football Jamboree on Aug. 16 at Jacksonville Northside.