Warriors drop season opener in Corky Kell Classic


Jemiah Clemons

Following a 59-16 scrimmage win over the Sprayberry Yellow Jackets, the NC Warriors ventured into their first regular season game. Despite taking a 14-0 lead at halftime, the Warriors ultimately fell to the Buford Wolves, 35-27. With impressive performances from quarterback Malachi Singleton, wide receiver Reggie Givhan, and defensive specialist Marquis Grove-Killebrew. Although an undesired outcome, the top-ranked Warriors plan to go back to the drawing boards for next week’s outing versus the Milton Eagles.

Peyton Stack and Elijah Pacis

The NC Warrior varsity football team (0-1) opened up their 2021 season against the top-ranked 6A Buford Wolves (1-0) on Friday, August 20. What started as a hot summer evening quickly turned into a humid, dark night after a weather delay, transpiring a back and forth game between both teams. With twelve players in the top one hundred state rankings collectively, all eyes turned to Emory Sewell stadium in the first game of the Corky Kell Classic. After a dramatic tale of 2 halves, the Wolves avenged their only loss a season prior, beating the Warriors 35-27. 

“It’s just little mistakes here and there. That knee down on a punt, and a few fumbles, all came at really important moments. So, it’s really all about execution,” Head Coach Shane Queen said. 

The Warriors started strong in the first quarter, shutting down the Wolves on both defense and offense. NC junior quarterback Malachi Singleton put the Warriors on the board with an 80-yard toss to senior wide receiver Marquis Groves-Killebrew on a broken down play to go up, 7-0. The Warriors kept up the momentum in the second quarter, when Singleton carried a 5-yard rush for a touchdown, solidifying a 14-0 lead at the half. The Warriors looked poised to batter Buford throughout the rest of the night, but momentum greatly shifted after both teams shuffled out of the locker room. 

In the third quarter, the Wolves began focusing their defensive cover schemes on Singleton, forcing NC to regroup. The Warriors then committed a handful of crucial mistakes that led to Buford’s first score of the night. Buford’s quarterback Ashton Daniels threw a 64 yard dime to wide receiver Malik Spencer, changing the tide of Georgia’s “Game of the Week.” NC lost a fumble the following play, setting the Wolves’ CJ Clinkscales up for a 66-yard touchdown run along the left sideline, tying the game at 14-14.

The Warriors quickly lost steam after both series of scores, leading to a punt error, which allowed Buford to start their drive at NC’s 25-yard line. On the following play, Buford’s backup quarterback Dylan Wittke hit wide receiver Toby Olawole for a 25-yard touchdown, presenting the Wolves with their first lead at 21-14. The Warriors fumbled on the next drive, allowing Buford to score once more with a 7-yard run from running back Victor Venn.

Losing the momentum they gained in the first half, the Warriors attempted to come back. Singleton hit senior slot receiver Reggie Givhan, who evaded two defenders for a 50-yard touchdown, bringing the Warriors within one score, 28-21. The Wolves extinguished any chance of an NC comeback when Daniels found Olawole for a 15-yard touchdown strike, to go up 35-21. Singleton followed up with a 4-yard screen pass to NC junior running back Ben Hall for a touchdown but ultimately ran out of time. The Warriors ended their night with a disappointing 35-27 loss, which avenged the Wolves’ loss a season prior. 

Singleton finished with 235 passing yards and 4 total touchdowns (3 passing, 1 rushing). Givhan tallied 115 receiving yards on 9 catches, along with a pair of electrifying punt returns. 

“We’re going to go back and watch the film and fix our mistakes. That’s the bottom line. We can’t be selfish, and we have to do things the right way,” Queen said. 

Despite dropping their first game of the season, the Warriors hold plenty of talent and plan to review the film from the previous outing. Though the majority of fans expected 4-star senior wide receiver De’Nylon Morrissette to make his Warrior debut, Morrissette sat out due to an undisclosed injury. The Warriors hope to start Morrissette as soon as possible and get back on a winning track. Make sure to catch the Warriors as they take on the top-ranked 7A Milton Eagles on Friday, August 27, at Emory Sewell Stadium.