Green ‘Entity’: 3A Rockets are MAC Favorites Again - TribPapers

Green ‘Entity’: 3A Rockets are MAC Favorites Again

Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Fairview – A.C. Reynolds once again seems nearly as mighty as the fictitious “Entity” in Tom Cruise’s latest MI thriller, Dead Reckoning, Part One. The Entity is an advanced, rogue computer system that reprogrammed itself and manipulates secure, sensitive military and econimic systems worldwide. Nations want to acquire and control it. Cruise, starring as Impossible Missions Force (IMF) lead agent Ethan Hunt, wants to destroy The Entity. Local rivals want to do the same to ACR. That’s a daunting task.

In MI-7, computer whiz Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) warns Hunt that confronting The Entity is like “playing four-dimensional chess” against an algorithmic foe. The Entity considers all possibilities. It shrewdly anticipates and counters moves. It penetrates computer defenses.

Coach Shane Laws. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
Coach Shane Laws. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Reynolds also penetrates defenses, with cunning game plans and in-game coaching adjustments led by wizard Shane Laws. The Entity is the ultimate AI (artificial intelligence). Formidable Reynolds sports ultimate football “AI” — apparent “athletic invincibility.”

The Entity is malicious. Reynolds is villainous to MAC (Mountain Athletic Conference, AKA Mobilizing Against Champs) rivals. Indeed, Reynolds’ A.C. seems to stand for “Always Champs.” In 2022, the Rockets (12-2) went unbeaten in league clashes for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. They won three playoff rounds. They want to advance even further.

ACR is a slight consensus pick of several rival coaches to retain the crown, with Asheville and T.C. Roberson also top-tier. Rocket players typically thrive under pressure. Senior quarterback Hayden Craig welcomes “expectations that we give our very best.” He considers that an offshoot of Rocket pride.

Reynolds (1-2), in week two, won its second in a row over Shelby in a clash of juggernauts. “The juice was good; the energy was good,” Coach Laws said of such efforts.

Two major changes can enable Reynolds to win it all in 2023. First off, the school is back in 3A due to statewide realignment. Rivalst AHS and TCR stay in 4A. ACR no longer faces 4A schools with an athletic talent pool of two to three times as many students.

Hayden to Ty, Wes

Secondly, the Rockets now have a Dallas Cowboys-like “Triplets” with superstars at quarterback, running back, and receiver. Poised left-hander Hayden Craig (6-0, 180 jr.) again fires Rocket football missiles. Craig said he feels quicker afoot, and with much stronger arm strength.

Coach Laws said Craig stays “composed,” is astute, mobile, and throws accurate, strong passes. Craig treasures varying game strategies, and his role to “play smart,” scramble to extend plays and “find open receivers.” He usually does that. Laws points to Craig’s 70 percent completion mark in 2022.

Craig suddenly has two tall and fast targets, instead of departed small, quick fellows. The MAC’s top returning receiver is now a Rocket. Tyviaun “Ty” Johnson (6-3, 180 sr.) transferred from rival Erwin. He led MAC receivers in 2022 with 1,253 yards, and was second in WNC. Johnson averaged 21.2 yards per reception. He took 12 of his 59 receptions “to the house.” He caught 15 passes for 205 yards in a playoff game.

With ACR, Johnson had 129 of his team-best 186 receiving yards last Friday. He has two TD catches. “Ty’s a red zone threat” with his height, Craig said, grinning.

Wesley Rumbough (6-2, 165 sr.) is a Rambo-like weapon. Rumbough rumbles through defenses for extra yards. Laws touts his pair of swift and tall receivers, with “Ty on one side and Wes (Rumbough) on the other.” Kenyon Swimmer (6-1, 170 jr.) also has height and speed.

Special Guest

Superstar back Max Guest (5-10, 185 so.) ran for 820 yards and 11 TDs as a freshman. Last year, he rushed for 1,746 yards (125 per game, 6.6 per carry) and 25 TDs — nearly two per contest. He sprinted for 302 yards and four TDS against powerful Shelby in ‘22. He totaled 2,122 all-purpose yards — 152 per game.

Guest is lightning fast. His 40-yard-dash speed is in the 4.3s, peaking at 4.27. He is 20 pounds heavier and stronger. Guest credits Rocket togetherness and determination for their success. He is due back any week from an ankle injury.

In his place are elusive Jayden Smith (5-6, 165 so.), and RB-WR Tyvon Patterson (5-8, 160 so.) who has run for a TD and caught two TD passes so far. Burly FB Christian Lewis (5-11, 210 sr.) is second in receptions.

The offensive line has strong seniors such as center Dwaine Brooks (5-10, 235), tackle Brendan Pohl (6-4, 260), guard Connor Crain (6-2, 280) and Zac Lowe (6-2, 270); and quick juniors Rodrigo Coronado (6-2, 230) and Rawleigh Hall (6-1, 235).

Rossi Santelia (5-10, 155 jr.) kicks.

Swift Defenders

The 3-3 “stack” Rocket defense system graduated Shrine Bowlers Russell Barnett and DaShawn Stone (now at Duke), and LB Asher Cunningham. The new lineup is smaller, but even faster.

Star linebackers include fourth-year starters Brandon Guest (6-0, 215 sr.) and Lewis, Ayden Hines (5-10, 185 sr.), Lincoln Rogers (5-5, 165 jr.), Ayden Metcalf (5-11, 180 jr.) and Ben Parchuk (5-10, 200 so.). Brandon Guest, Max’s brother, senses more team “energy” in ’23. Hines said that with players’ greater strength, Rocket tackling is even more “physical.”

The quick defensive line has DE Kareem McDowell (6-4, 205 sr.), Daylon Harper (6-3, 200 sr.), Cam Smith (6-3, 210 sr.); also Pohl and Stayceon Taylor (5-8, 210 so.). The small secondary seems vulnerable to tall receivers. But it is fast with senior CBs Austin Worrell (5-10, 170) and Malik Angram (5-10, 165), Neo Lowe (5-7, 140 Jr.), and Naeem Muhammad (6-0, 175 sr.). Max Guest and Hendersonville transfer Angram are main kick returners.

Assuredly, dangerous “Entity” Reynolds is tough to control and quite poised for a deep playoff run.