Kestrel Heights continues program development
EDITOR’S NOTE — This is the first in a series looking at area football team prospects for the 2013 season, which opens Aug. 23.
David Lloyd is an optimist.
Heaven help him, he’d better be.
The second-year Kestrel Heights School football coach — he took over the charter school program when Dave Potter was fired after the fifth game of the team's 0-10 season a year ago — faces more obstacles than almost anyone in his profession.
How many obstacles?
1. The Hawks, according to Lloyd, have won only one game in five varsity seasons, and that was against a junior varsity team. It happened so long ago, no one can quite put a finger on the year.
2. Lloyd is tasked with finding someone to quarterback this year’s team. All four players who took turns at QB last fall are gone — one to graduation, three to transfer.
3. Despite an 11-game 2013 schedule that originally featured five home games, on paper, it turns out it was a mirage. All 11 games will be played on the road.
4. Kestrel Heights has no road map to the playoffs.
The Hawks, formerly a Class 1-A independent under the N.C. High School Athletic Association umbrella, have joined a league this fall, the all-charter school North Central 1-A Athletic Conference. Normally, that would mean the distinct possibility of a state playoff berth. But not from this conference.
Since none of the other five league members play football, the conference does not get an automatic football playoff berth. In fact, the Hawks might never get a playoff berth.
According to Lloyd, the word is that the Hawks would have to impress NCHSAA officials enough to win a seeded position in the playoffs to ever get there.
“We could go 8-2, say, and still not get in over a 5-5 team (from a qualifying conference),” Lloyd said. “They’d be looking at our schedule, everything. That’s the way I understand it, anyhow.”
Other NCAC 1-A members are Woods Charter, Voyager Academy, Roxboro Community School, River Mill Academy and Raleigh Charter.
The all-road schedule is new this year. The Hawks had called N.C. Central’s O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium and, on occasion, Durham County Memorial Stadium, home in the past but not this time around.
“We don’t have the fan support and financial backing to rent out stadiums (like NCCU),” Lloyd said. “In the past, N.C. Central’s been greating about working with us and letting us use their stadium, but the schedule this year just didn’t work out.”
On the plus side, there is a new-found commitment to the program by its holdover and incoming players, Lloyd said.
“We’ve got a pretty good group of young guys coming in,” he said. “We’re really, really young, but the kids seem a lot more committed than the guys last year. All the kids have worked hard in the weight room and in conditioning.”
Lloyd expects to dress out approximately 25 players for games this season. Last season was about the same, but injuries decimated the roster and only 16 to 18 players dressed out for a pair of games.
Where the Hawks must stay particularly healthy is among their Big Three.
Holdover standouts Jonathan “J.T.” Travers-Murrillo (6-1, 215) is back at one linebacker spot, along with hybrid linebacker/safety Izaiyah Coleman (5-10, 180). Their offensive counterpart is returning lineman Kani Singleton-Moore (6-2, 280).
“Those three guys played ever snap last year,” Lloyd said. “They are our Big Three.”
Coleman faces additional pressure this season as the preseason favorite to take over at quarterback, according to Lloyd.
Can the Hawks finally get their program off the ground this season?
“A lot depends this season on how healthy we stay,” Lloyd said. “But I guess that holds true for anyone.”