By Nathan Ham
For the third time in three seasons, the High Country Grizzlies will have a new head coach on the sidelines for their season opener.
Jeff Hunt will take over for last year’s head coach Scott Meserve who decided to resign from the position in the offseason. The Grizzlies finished 2-6 in Meserve’s lone season as head coach.
In the first year of the team’s existence in 2017, Josh Resignalo was the head coach and saw the Grizzlies finish the year with a 3-7 record.
Hunt comes to Boone after serving as an assistant coach previously with the San Antonio Talons in the Arena Football League (AFL) and as an assistant with the River City Raiders and the St. Louis Bulldogs.
The Grizzlies have provided updates throughout January on some of the new faces that fans will see on this year’s team in the American Arena League.
Quarterback Kevin Russell was a three-year starter for the University of Redlands Bulldogs in California. Russell was a two-time, all-conference player and was voted as Team MVP.
Kicker Nick Guana is a former walk-on at the University of Alabama where was part of the National Championship team in 2015. After that, Guana transferred to Austin Peay State University.
Offensive lineman Sean Gavitt makes the move from the Florid Tarpons to the Grizzlies. Gavitt was with the Tarpons from 2016 through 2018.
Offensive and defensive lineman Anthony Pruitt comes to Boone after spending two seasons with the QC Steamwheelers. Pruitt played his college football at Kent State and was named the 2015 Matt Ramser Award winner for the demonstration of courage, dedication, attitude and commitment in winning the biggest battle of his life: Defeating cancer.
Malcolm Goines will join the defensive line after spending time playing professionally with the Wichita Falls Nighthawks. Goines played college football at Austin Peay State.
Wide Receiver Michael Carl Hodges Jr. played at East Mississippi Community College, made famous for its two seasons on Netflix hit show “Last Chance U”. Hodges went on to play at Mississippi State University.
Two other players added on the defensive side of the ball include linebacker Ralph Harvey Jr. who last played at the University of Houston and defensive back Dominique Patterson. Patterson played his college ball at Fort Valley State University and played professionally with the Bloomington Edge.
Maybe the most familiar new face to people in Boone will be defensive back Dominique McDuffie. McDuffie arrived at App State in 2008 and started three games as a true freshman before an injury ended his season. McDuffie battled injuries throughout his career with the Mountaineers, however when on the field, he certainly one of the Mountaineers’ best defensive players.
The most recent additions to the team include QB Shane Martinez (Upstate Dragons), CB/KR Jeremy Caldwell (Eastern Kentucky University), OL Peter Thoms Borum (Delaware State), DB Fred Shaw (Central Oklahoma State), DL Danzell Maze (Ferris State and Wayne State University), DB Darius Lipford (UNC), LB Quin Smith (University of South Carolina) and DL Jacolby Stanley (University of Dubuque).
OL Jordan Farrow and WR Ricardo Johnson are returning members from the 2018 High Country Grizzlies.
The first game of the 2019 season will be at home on March 16 against the Carolina Predators. The Grizzlies are schedule to have five regular season home games.
2019 Schedule (home games in bold)
March 16 – Carolina Predators
March 23 – Carolina Energy
March 30 – Bye
April 6 – Bye
April 14 @ Carolina Havoc
April 20 @ Cape Fear Heroes
April 27 – Bye
May 4 – Carolina Havoc
May 11 – @ Carolina Energy
May 18 – Peach State Cats
May 25 – Carolina Predators
June 1 – @ Peach State Cats