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Familiar feeling for Falcons at ECU

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East Carolina's Kiante Anderson celebrates his sack against James Madison on Sept. 2, 2017 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)


The Daily Reflector

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Kiante Anderson was a leader for South Central High School’s football team in Winterville late in 2012 and he took notice when a lean, promising freshman named Kendall Futrell was called on to help the varsity Falcons.

“That first game we played together — oh man, we shut it down,” Anderson said Wednesday after most of East Carolina’s practice was held inside Minges Coliseum because of inclement weather.

Things have come full circle for Anderson and Futrell, yet there is a familiar feeling for both as they continue to try and increase their impact as Pirates.

Anderson came into the season as a senior starter and potential leader as a 6-foot-4, 243-pound end. At 6-2, 230 and a sophomore, Futrell plays on the other end and is an up-and coming player on the ECU defense who has big-play potential yet is still learning some finer details from the older players around him.

It is reminiscent of 2012.

“It’s just amazing because you don’t hear much about local guys getting to actually play at the college level together,” said Anderson, who was at St. Augustine’s for his first two collegiate seasons before joining the Pirates as a walk-on in 2015 and earning a scholarship before his senior year. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime type thing. For us to get to experience it, it’s truly a blessing.”

Anderson was maybe the Pirates’ most active defender last week in a game that was otherwise defined by the steady play by senior quarterback Bryan Schor and an effective James Madison run attack that racked up 410 ground yards in a 34-14 victory by the Dukes in Greenville. Anderson had ECU’s lone sack of Schor, which highlighted his 2.5 tackles for loss.

Futrell, who played outside linebacker as a true freshman in 2016, split time with Minnesota graduate transfer Gaelin Elmore, which coach Scottie Montgomery said Wednesday will likely continue Saturday at West Virginia but with possibly even more flexibility by the ends. Elmore got the start against JMU, but it is Futrell who is listed in the top spot on the depth chart for the WVU matchup.

“We’ll rotate those guys, but I do want see to see Kendall a little more than I saw him (against James Madison),” Montgomery said. “We’ll probably play Elmore a little more with the three technique (as an interior lineman), just to try and generate a little better pass rush.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.