Pungo Christian Academy prepares for football season

Published 5:13 pm Wednesday, August 14, 2019

BELHAVEN — The Raiders of Pungo Christian Academy are preparing for their 8-man football league that is set to begin next Friday night barring a possible rescheduling.

Head coach Stacey Keech explained a lot of the details that differentiate the 8-man league to the regular 11-man league.

Keech said teams usually have three down offensive lineman. Typically, there will be two more players on the line that are eligible receivers, essentially tight ends. One wide receiver with a quarterback and running back is the typical formation.

“It’s pretty much a race to the edge,” Keech said about the 8-man league. “Most people that succeed in this league are foot racing to the outside.”

According to Keech, most of the conference is struggling with numbers of kids on the team. Pungo currently only has 11 players. Their starting quarterback from last season Nate Vanstaalduinen will not return for his senior campaign. Vanstaalduinen threw for 1,052 yards in 9 games last season with 14 touchdown tosses along with 277 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns.

However, starting receiver and the lone senior on 2019’s Pungo roster, Ryan Bishop, says they have enough talent on the team to be successful.

“The goal for the season is just to finish with a half decent record,” Bishop said. “Mainly our only issue is numbers. I feel like we have enough talent on the team, it’s just conditioning and being able to play four (eight minute) quarters consistently and keeping stamina. There are likely five of us that won’t be coming off the field during the game.”

Bishop led the team in receiving last season with 27 catches for 509 yards and eight receiving touchdowns.

Ian Swindell and Stephen Pugh were both taking snaps at quarterback yesterday afternoon, while Swindell’s 6’1 stature will likely make him a receiving target for most of the season. Edward Credle will also be a big target, as the 6-foot junior looks to be a big part of the Raiders’ offense this season.

“We’re getting there, still a lot of work to do,” Keech said after practice. “Our guys are running good routes, completing passing routes and I see a lot of good effort.”

The practice was cut a bit short as a wall cloud descended upon the practice field and a thunderstorm wasn’t far behind.

Pungo’s first scheduled game was to be at Bethel Christian Academy in Kingston next Friday, but Keech says they may be looking to get it rescheduled to one of the two consecutive bye weeks that the Raiders have on their schedule on Sept. 6 and 13. Pungo will host Northeast Academy at 4 p.m. on Aug 30.