A signature for a future

Feb. 8–When Harry Van Arsdale was hired last spring to lead the varsity
football team at Porter Ridge High School, he was way behind schedule.
Fortunately for the new head coach, he had some talented, high-character players
to lean on.

Those students helped set the foundation for the second-year Indian Trail
program, Van Arsdale said, and led the Pirates to the first two victories in
school history in the fall. On Wednesday, a few of them were rewarded when they
signed scholarship offers to play football in college.

Marquise Allen (Wingate), a defensive back/wide receiver; and DeShaun Dilworth
(Shaw, of Raleigh), an offensive guard, signed with Division II schools. Josh
Heasty, a lineman, committed to play at Division III Greensboro College

They were among Union County seniors who accepted offers Wednesday, including:
Weddington’s Marc Yerry, a tight end recruited by Oklahoma State; Sun Valley
quarterback Cory Smith (D-II UNC Pembroke); and Sun Valley tailback Justin
Campbell (North Carolina Central, which is moving up to Division I-AA in the fall).

Wednesday was the first day high school students could sign college football
scholarship offers. It’s something of a holiday, coined "National Signing Day."

The Pirates were happy to share in the festivities. Three teammates also expect
to make decisions shortly about where they will play in college: quarterback
Cameron Jones, Matt Mullis and kicker Jordan Earhart.

With the three players who announced their commitments Wednesday, that trio was
among 21 seniors on the Porter Ridge team last season. Five of the six players
attended a morning ceremony in the school auditorium, where Van Arsdale praised
them.

"Not one time did I have to get after them," he said to a small crowd of
parents, administrators and students. "They’re going to go on to bigger and
better things.

"They will represent this high school, this community very well. Because I know
what they’ve been through for two years."

What they’ve been through is school changes (from Piedmont or private school to
Porter Ridge), coaching changes (Van Arsdale replaced Bill Geiler after Geiler
resigned in April) and close games against stellar competition.

Van Arsdale started at Porter Ridge in late May, less than three months before
preseason practices began. He credited the players at the ceremony with helping
him adjust by keeping the Pirates focused and solving team problems in the
locker room. None was late for, or absent from, a practice during the season.

Wednesday’s ceremony marked the second time a Porter Ridge athlete has signed a
college scholarship offer. Senior Henni Coetzer plans to swim at Wingate next
season.

Allen is happy to join her there. He could be speaking for all of the county
players who accepted offers Wednesday:

"I’m just glad to play football," he said, "and I’m blessed that I get the
opportunity to play in college."

Title: A signature for a future: Student-athletes’ work pays off with scholarships
Authors: Basen, Ryan
Source: Charlotte Observer, The (NC); 02/08/2007

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