With fall quickly approaching, the annual Pigskin Jamboree is almost here.
This Friday, Aug. 12, Clinton High School’s Dark Horse Stadium will play host to a field of teams consisting of Hobbton, Union, Lakewood, Midway and Clinton as each team participates in a series of scrimmages, getting them ready for the quickly-approaching football season.
Harrells Christian Academy, who had played in the pre-season event in past years, will not play in the Jamboree this year.
But the five county teams will be on the field.
When play begins at 7 p.m., two teams will face off against each other on each end of the field, with one team playing offense and one defense for the entire 10-minute period.
The teams will rotate after those 10 minutes, with one team sitting out each period.
Al Britt, athletic director for Sampson County Schools and organizer of Friday Pigskin, looks at the yearly event as a important part of each team’s preparation for the season.
“It’s vital that all these teams get in some scrimmages before the season,” he noted. “The rules say that the teams can only have seven hours of scrimmages during the off-season. The Jamboree will give them a good two hours. This will give each coach a chance to look at four good offenses and defenses before the year begins. It should make for some exiting football.”
The idea for having an annual jamboree came to current Clinton High School head coach Bob Lewis nearly 20 years ago. The Pigskin Jamboree has since become a major event not just for the coaches and players but for football fans across the county.
“Coach Lewis was the originator of the Jamboree,” Britt acknowledged. “In the early ‘90s, he came up with the idea. It’s been going on for some time now.
“We started playing at either Midway of Lakewood, but we’ve just had such good fan participation at Clinton that we decided to move it back. It’s worked out well.”
The weekend will kick off Friday at noon with the Robert Hill Jamboree Luncheon for the coaches and administrators. Sponsored by Hill’s family, the lunch will take place at Piggly Wiggly.
The event will carry obvious implications towards the season that lies ahead and how it might play out even though no score will be kept. With four of the five teams being regular opponents, each coach will get a clear picture of where they stand.
“We’re going to see how far we’ve come as a team,” says Clinton High School tight end A.J. Negron. “It’s a chance to show how hard we all worked this summer. It’s also a chance for us to show how competitive we are.”
Adds Britt, “The North Carolina High School Athletic Association won’t let us keep score for any scrimmages, but I’m sure each coach will be keeping a score in the back of his mind.”
Gates open at Dark Horse Stadium Friday night at 7. Admission for the Jamboree is $6.