Wright, Stallions return for 17th season
BY PATRICK MASON
Friday, June 14, 2019
Sports fans in Rocky Mount won’t have to wait much longer to get that gridiron fix.
Football is coming soon.
The Carolina Stallions, the semi-professional football team in town, will open their first game of the 2019 season on July 13 on the road against the Carolina Punishers in Lumberton.
The Stallions begin with two road games, before returning to Rocky Mount for their home opener on July 27 against the Palmetto Hurricanes. Carolina plays its home games at the Rocky Mount Athletic Complex, and tickets are $8.
“It’s mostly a new roster, though we do have about 15 or 20 returners,” Stallions coach Michael Wright said. “We have a lot of players who come in young and want to grow. Those are the types of guys we’re looking for.”
Playing in the Mason-Dixon Football league, the Stallions are entering their 17th season; Wright has been at the helm for each. The team will play nine regular season games across an 11-week schedule — not including a potential postseason run.
The longtime coach, who has been doing this for nearly as long as some of his players have been alive, said he had a stroke in the past year and was released from the hospital in May.
“I love doing this,” Wright said. “I just got out of the hospital the Lord allowed me to get back out to the boys. Bringing them along and helping them grow is what I love to do. You’ll see me out there, maybe looking a little different from last year, but as long as God gives me the strength to get back I’ll do this as long as I can.”
The team is open to those ages 18 through 32, and there are 45 players on the current roster with ages ranging from 18 to 27. The backgrounds of the players include recent high school graduates to former collegiate players to young adults looking for structure in a team environment.
And with a month until the season opener, Wright and the Stallions’ coaching staff are in the process of learning the roster and the best way to utilize the players. By next week, the coaching staff will have a better idea of what they have once the team goes through padded practices.
“If we put all the pieces of the puzzle together we’ll be pretty good and we should be ready to play some good football,” Wright said. “All the sponsors and those who have helped out, I just want to thank them for sticking with me over the years, and I hope the people just come on out and support us this season.”