Mother Nature, as she did so much during the 2018 season of North Carolina high school football, attempted to delay the start of the 2019 season on Friday. Fortunately for the Heel Tough Blog, the Providence Day Chargers and Mountain Island Charter Raptors were too determined to let her stand in the way of their season opening matchup in Mt. Holly, as two Tar Heel commits went head-to-head. Let’s take a look at Friday night's performances for 2020 4✮ DT Kedrick Bingley-Jones and 2020 3✮ RB Elijah Burris.
Let's start with the player who had the toughest night of the two. As a junior in 2018, Elijah Burris finished second in the state of North Carolina and 21st nationally with 2,832 yards rushing and 34 touchdowns. Friday night was not nearly as successful for Burris. After going 14 straight games with at least 100 yards rushing, Burris had his worst game on the ground since October 27, 2017, where Burris ran for 14 yards on nine carries. The Chargers defense held Burris to just 28 yards on his 13 carries on the night, with 19 of those 28 yards coming on a long run on the second offensive drive of the night for the Raptors. Honestly, it hard to blame Burris for this one, though. His offensive line was simply overmatched as a 1A school against a Providence Day defensive line that boasts two 2020 4✮ prospects and ranks as one of the best in the state. Not only did the offensive line have their struggles, but the wide receivers were also no help on the edges, constantly leaving Burris with nowhere to run throughout the night. On Burris’ two long runs of the night (19 yards and 9 yards) he was able to show some burst that many don’t realize he has in his arsenal along with a little bit of that hard-nosed edge that he’s more known for. The one bright spot to take away from this game surrounding the senior running back is that he could be valuable in pass protection in the backfield for the Tar Heels over the next few seasons. Burris was constantly tasked with helping his offensive linemen, who just couldn’t contain the speed and physicality of Bingley-Jones and Jacolbe Cowan by themselves. Burris was one of the main reasons the Chargers didn’t register double-digit sacks on the reason. Even though it wasn’t the best start to his senior campaign, expect Burris to bounce back with a big game next week on the road against Christ the King.
As for the other Tar Heel commit in action, it was a much different story than Burris’. After a little bit of a slow start, Bingley-Jones put together a strong second half to begin his senior season on the right foot. In the first half, Bingley-Jones saw time on both sides of the football, playing three drives at right tackle. In the second half, head coach Adam Hastings decided it was best to save his star players stamina for the defensive side of the football and that paid off big time, as Bingley-Jones would register three solo tackles and a sack in the second half, while also getting into the backfield for three quarterback hurries, as well. The first half may not have been as dominant, but he still wreaked havoc, picking up one solo tackle, one sack and four quarterback hurries. Bingley-Jones played all along the defensive line throughout the night, but did the bulk of his damage from the 5 or 4i-technique defensive end spot. That is a great sign for the Tar Heels, as that’s where he should play for all or at least most of his time in Chapel Hill. Bingley-Jones release off the line of scrimmage is definitely made the biggest impression on me on Friday night and should be really encouraging for Tar Heel fans to hear. With Bingley-Jones not being the fastest defensive lineman in the world, that quick first step is important for him to maintain at the next level and right now there is no reason to say he won’t.
Two other Tar Heel were expected to be on the field for this one, but only one was active for this game. 2020 4✮ DT Jacolbe Cowan showed why he is being pursued heavily by powerhouse programs like Ohio State and Clemson, while 2021 4✮ CB Gabriel Stephens was unable to go in this one. Even without Stephens, Mountain Island has a couple of standouts defensively on Friday night, led by junior inside linebacker Brandon Jones and senior defensive end Christian Sellers. Meanwhile, for Providence Day, sophomore wide receiver Jesiah Davis has a nice start to his 2019 season, leading both teams in receiving on Friday night. Mountain Island senior quarterback Kobe Creamers suffered what appeared to be a gruesome arm injury during the first half and us at the Heel Tough Blog would like to wish him a speedy recovery.
One of the coolest moments of this game came after the final whistle, as Bingley-Jones waited on the field to talk with Burris and even get a picture with his future teammate. Although it wasn’t the greatest offensive matchup to begin the season, Providence Day’s 17-0 victory got the Heel Tough Blog’s scouting reports off and running for a highly anticipated 2019 high school football season. Stay tuned to www.heeltoughblog.com as next week we head just down the road to 3A state title contender Hunter Huss and 2021 Tar Heel commit Dontavius Nash as him and the Huskies take on Rocky River.