Zion Chapel battles Kinston in spring matchup

Published 9:10 am Monday, May 22, 2023

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The Zion Chapel Rebels capped off spring football practices with a county showdown with the Kinston Bulldogs on May 19.

The spring football game featured the varsity teams playing for the first half with the junior varsity closing out things in the second half. Neither team was able to get on the scoreboard in the first quarter but Kinston’s Brant McCollough broke off a 40-yard run followed by a 5-yard touchdown run from Brodie Walker with 8:45 left in the half to put the Dawgs up 7-0.

Zion Chapel answered right back when Mason Stuart heaved an 81-yard touchdown pass to Joseph LeGear with 7:38 left to tie the score 7-7. Stuart added a 50-yard touchdown run on Zion Chapel’s next drive to put the Rebels up 14-7. Kinston attempted a late scoring drive in the half but LeGear intercepted a deep Bulldog pass with 38 seconds left to secure the 14-7 win for the varsity squad.

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“For nine days of practice – with a new defense and everything – I think we played pretty well,” ZCHS Coach Cody Keene said. “Overall, it took us a minute to get settled in and once we did I think we showed we can be a competitive football team.

“I think there were a couple of a times we could have scored again, and I would have liked to have had a better half with the varsity, but as far as overall effort, I was pleased.”

In the second half, the junior varsities faced off with neither team able to get on the scoreboard until Kinston’s JV managed to find the end-zone late in the fourth quarter to pick up an 8-0 win over the ZCHS JV squad.

Keene said that Zion Chapel had a number of new faces on the football team for the spring and he was excited for the way team handled practices.

“I think the spring went well,” he said. “We had some new kids coming out and so we were sort of setting the standard for those guys in understanding the importance of practice and being here and helping them get to where we want to be mentally.

“We have some guys that have been here that sort of know that standard, that ‘Never back down’ mentality. So, it was really about getting those (new) guys up to speed with the others.”

Keene said capping off the spring with a good performance in the game with Kinston was important heading into summer workouts. In Keene’s first year at the helm, the Rebels bypassed having spring practices so as to have an extra week of fall practices instead.

“It was big, that’s one of the reasons we had (spring practices) this year,” Keene said. “We lost nine seniors, so we needed to see our guys on the field and get them as many reps as possible with their pads on this spring.

“If you don’t have a spring you lose that a little. Not having one fit us last year and having one fit us better this year. You need to have that positive momentum going into the offseason workouts and in the weight room in June and July.”