Seventy-First football coach Duran McLaurin has basic criteria he follows when deciding to use a player as a starter on offense and defense.
First, he’s got to be a player you can depend on. Second, he’s got to be one who gives his best effort and won’t be taking breaks on the field.
Donavan Frederick fits the bill in both categories for the Falcons, and he’s got the statistics to back it up.
According to the latest numbers available on MaxPreps, Frederick is the Falcons’ leading rusher with 781 yards, an average of 97.6 per game, and seven rushing touchdowns.
On defense, he’s got 30 solo tackles, 50 assisted and 28 tackles for loss from his linebacker position.
McLaurin calls Frederick a quiet leader but added he’s finding his voice while largely leading by example.
“He’s a tremendous student, and he’s very, very dependable and accountable,” McLaurin said. “His production hasn’t tailed off a bit.”
In fact, McLaurin said, there have been times when he and his coaches have had to hold Frederick back because he is so zealous about contributing on both sides of the football.
They spell him a little at running back using sophomore Jayson Franklin, the No. 3 rusher in Seventy-First’s run-oriented offense with 739 yards and six touchdowns.
“That wears the defense down over the course of a game,” McLaurin said of the one-two punch of Frederick and Franklin on the ground.
If he’s got a favorite side of the ball, Frederick said, it’s defense because he enjoys hitting opponents.
McLaurin said it could also be because of added skills Frederick brings to the linebacker position.
“He’s a talented wrestler,” McLaurin said. “He knows how to use his hands and his body. He finds ways to continue to be effective, exerts tremendous effort on both sides of the football.”
Frederick said the biggest challenge of playing both ways is getting in shape before the season and staying there during it.
“I’m giving my all each play,” he said. “I’ve got great people around me. We all do our jobs. Just flying to the ball, staying active and keep moving.”
Like most of the returning Falcons, Frederick is working to erase memories of Seventy-First’s disappointing loss in the Eastern finals last year.
They will seek to wrap up an unbeaten regular season tonight as they visit Douglas Byrd, learning their first-round state playoff opponent when the pairings are announced Saturday.
“We want to get back,” Frederick said. “That’s been like our biggest motivation, just to get back, to finish this season and be No. 1.”
While Frederick feels the Falcons have more talent this season, he also thinks there has been more learning since there were so many underclassmen like himself, a junior.
“Each game they are getting better and better,” he said. “Each practice, they are getting better and better.”
He gives much of the credit to McLaurin, who last week earned his 100th career win as Falcon head coach.
“He’s pushing us to try and be the best athletes we can,” Frederick said. “Pushing us in the weight room and in practice. Teaching us off-field skills other than football.”
McLaurin thinks Frederick is ready for the grind of the postseason that is likely to put a greater demand on his two-way skills.
“He’s not taking anything for granted,” McLaurin said. “I think he understands how important he is to our success, and he’s got a responsibility to his teammates that I feel like he embraces now as a leader on the team.”
Terry Sanford’s women’s tennis team is still alive in the state 3-A dual team playoffs. The Bulldogs defeated Carrboro 6-3 in their latest match Wednesday. They will advance to Monday’s Eastern semifinals against Greenville Rose at Terry Sanford. The match will begin at 4 p.m.
Terry Sanford is 16-0, while Rose is 14-1.
Cape Fear’s women were eliminated 5-4 by Rocky Mount.
In the first round, Cape Fear’s Anna Piland and Terry Sanford’s Annie Lieberman will both be facing players from Lake Norman Charter.
Piland meets Luci Falls, while Lieberman plays Kate Champion.
In doubles, the Terry Sanford duo of Pauline Bui and Loren Galaviz meet Abigail Cope and Grace Blair of Montgomery Central.
Cape Fear’s Shea Bieniek and Andi Brinker face Moriah Harris and Aileen Huynh of Lake Norman Charter.
The academy lost 2-0 to Carolina Day, while Caldwell Academy beat Fayetteville Christian 2-0.
The lone 4-A competitor is Alexis Paquin of Pine Forest, who will be in the state 4-A tournament at Pinehurst No. 6.
Paquin shot a 79 to tie for seventh in the 4-A East Regional golf tournament at Emerald Golf Club in New Bern.
Jordan Blanton lost on a scorecard playoff after finishing in a seven-way tie for the final individual playoff spot with a 91.
The Trojans shot 266 as a team, missing the last team qualifying spot by 26 strokes.
The state 3-A tournament will be at Foxfire Resort. Competing there will be Charlize Carr of Terry Sanford and Kate Wilson, Gracey Horne and Abbey Bullard of Cape Fear.
In last week’s 3-A East Regional at Wedgwood Golf Course in Wilson, Carr shot 85; Wilson, 89; Horne, 96; and Bullard, 99, all qualifying as individuals.
Cape Fear placed fifth as a team with 284.
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