Starmount Rams: new coach, new team, same philosophy

By Kristian Russell - krussell@elkintribune.com
2018 Starmount varsity football team - Kristian Russell | The Tribune
Eric Wiles - Kristian Russell | The Tribune
Trey Dezern - Kristian Russell | The Tribune
J Max Swaim - - Kristian Russell | The Tribune
Ethan Barnes - - Kristian Russell | The Tribune
Drake Funderburk - - Kristian Russell | The Tribune
Nik Pardue - - Kristian Russell | The Tribune
Jonah Pendergrass - - Kristian Russell | The Tribune

BOONVILLE — Starmount Rams will be welcoming a new head football coach this season, as Sandy Grinton will be taking over the orange and blue. Grinton will be replacing long-time coach Scott Johnson, who stepped down after last season.

“I’m very optimistic about this season,” said Grinton. “We have a very good group of seniors and a great group of young people. We feel very optimistic. We’ve been very positive and excited about the things that we have been doing.”

Last season Starmount averaged two touchdowns per game, 58 receiving yards per game, 22.7 rushing yards per game and a .286 completion percentage. Starmount made it to the first round of the NCHSAA 1A playoffs before falling to East Surry, 21-14. The Rams ended their 2017 campaign with an overall record of 6-6 and a Mountain Valley Athletic Conference record of 5-2.

While Starmount has a new coach, the Rams also will have new players making an impact on the field. Many of the play-makers from last season’s team graduated, but Grinton is confident in his 2018 squad to get the job done.

“We have a collection of individuals who will contribute to our team in a lot of different ways,” said Grinton.

One position that will be changing hands this year is the quarterback spot. This season, Trey Dezern will step into the starting position for the Rams. Dezern is a 6’3 junior who weighs 160 pounds. Last year Dezern averaged three carries per game and had several touchdowns for the Rams.

“Trey has had a great summer and fall. He commands the attention of all the people offensively,” said Grinton. “He makes great decisions with the football and he is a great leader.”

On offense, the Rams will be returning wide receivers and running backs. Ethan Barnes (6’1, 195) will be a running back, Eric Wiles (6’2, 172) will be a multi-position player, Drake Funderburk (5’10, 150) will have several positions to cover and Nik Pardue (5’9, 150) will be a returning offensive player.

Size-wise, the Starmount Rams will have that advantage on the defensive. With players ranging from 180 pounds to 280 pounds, the Rams will put down the most damage from the line. Charlie Smythers is a 6’5 250-pound senior who made an impact last season on defense. Smythers averaged six tackles per game and gave the Rams the motivation they needed when making a third-down play. Other defensive players who are bound to make an impact for the Rams are Jonah Pendergrass (5’8, 270), Ethan Barnes (6’1, 195) and Adam Houston (6’0, 240).

“Our goal is for us to be as competitive as possible,” said Grinton. “Our phrase is the same as it is every year, to believe.”

Starmount kicked off its season on Aug. 17 against the powerhouse 1A team, Mount Airy. Starmount will be put to the test early, but Grinton said they will be taking it one day at a time from here till the end of the season.

2018 Starmount varsity football team
https://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_DSC_0571-1.jpg2018 Starmount varsity football team Kristian Russell | The Tribune

Eric Wiles
https://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_DSC_0574-1.jpgEric Wiles Kristian Russell | The Tribune

Trey Dezern
https://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_DSC_0576-1.jpgTrey Dezern Kristian Russell | The Tribune

J Max Swaim
https://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_DSC_0578-1.jpgJ Max Swaim Kristian Russell | The Tribune

Ethan Barnes
https://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_DSC_0581.jpgEthan Barnes Kristian Russell | The Tribune

Drake Funderburk
https://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_DSC_0583.jpgDrake Funderburk Kristian Russell | The Tribune

Nik Pardue
https://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_DSC_0585.jpgNik Pardue Kristian Russell | The Tribune

Jonah Pendergrass
https://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_DSC_0586.jpgJonah Pendergrass Kristian Russell | The Tribune

By Kristian Russell

krussell@elkintribune.com

2018 Varsity roster:

3 J Max Swaim SS, FB Jr. 5-8 155

4 Trey Dezern Jr. 6-3 160

5 Drake Funderburk QB, RB, FS Sr. 5-10 150

6 Will Ray Jr. 5-10 147

8 Eric Wiles Jr. 6-2 172

17 Blake Roda Jr.

22 Bayden Childress Sr. 6-2 180

22 Justice Holcomb Jr. 5-9 155

23 Ethan Barnes DE, RB Sr. 6-1 195

25 Dawson Smith RB 5-7 160

31 Nik Pardue RB, OLB Sr. 5-9 150

32 Josh Spillman MLB, TE Sr. 5-10 130

33 Dakota Ellis Jr.

35 Sam Phillips 5-9 170

44 Dawson Nixon TE Sr.

51 Samuel Lincomfelt C Sr.

55 Denver Cook G, DE Sr. 5-7 160

57 Jake Groce Jr.

60 Justin Williams Jr. 6-2 195

65 Charlie Smythers C, DE, DT Sr. 6-5 250

66 Jonah Pendergrass T, DT Sr. 5-8

69 David Meyer G, DE Sr.

70 Cody Childress G Sr. 5-11

70 Cody Childress G Sr.

71 Mario Pineda Jr.

72 Adam Houston T, NG Sr. 6-0 240

72 Denver Stokes So. 6-3 260

74 Ian Tavano T Sr.

76 Zach Hicks DT, G Sr.

84 Hunter Butcher Sr.

Thomas Cole WR, CB Jr. 5-9 155