Despite signs of rain, the 27th annual Sampson County Football Jamboree was successful again this year as each team got plenty of time to see where they stand in preparation for opening day.
The Dark Horses had an overall successful night, as the defense looked much better in comparison to its scrimmage from Wednesday. The Horses struggled offensively in their session against Lakewood, though they picked it up, showing improvement as the night went on.
“We played pretty good tonight except for the first session on offense — it was terrible. We had way too many missed assignments,” said Clinton head coach Bob Lewis. “We can’t make the same mistakes next week against potentially the best team we’ll play all year.”
Lewis knows issues will appear in scrimmages and uses them as building blocks for his team to find their weaknesses and work on correcting them for opening day.
“The entire night was a learning experience for us,” said Lewis. “Then again, that’s what the jamboree is for and that’s how this thing works.”
Any CHS struggles may stem from a somewhat young, inexperienced team. Lewis has 14 seniors this year, but lost a lot of skill people from last season and only has four coming back for his defense. Clinton will attempt to shore up any weaknesses pretty quick, as the schedule doesn’t allow them to improve their shortcomings at a slow rate.
“We’ve got a really tough schedule this year, that’s for sure,” said Lewis. “We open up with Cape Fear, we’ve got Wallace-Rose Hill and we play Northside again this year, who just moved up to 3A. I have no idea how we’re going to finish this year, but regardless we plan to compete.”
The Dark Horses will host Cape Fear next Friday at 7 p.m.
The Union Spartans took the field with big expectations for the coming season.
The Spartans started out on defense against the Hobbton Wildcats and did not allow them to score. In the next series, the Midway Raiders were on defense against the Spartan offense. Trey Underwood scored a touchdown on a run play.
The defense once again took the field and did not allow Lakewood to enter the endzone. After a break, the Spartan offense took the field and scored twice against the Hobbton defense – once on a run by Underwood and the second time on a pass from Underwood to Javion Vann.
The defense once again took the field and allowed a couple of scores by Midway. The Spartan offense, eager to get back on the field again, then took on Lakewood. The final series the Spartan defense went up against Clinton. Defense did well, but did allow two touchdown passes by the Dark Horses.
“These scrimmages help us see the areas in which we really need to practice and improve to prepare for the upcoming season,” said Union head coach Doug Burley.
Union’s first game will be next Friday at Midway. The JV teams will meet at Union High School on Thursday night.
The Hobbton Wildcats started the 2017 edition of high school football with the 27th annual Pigskin Jamboree Friday along with the other county schools.
Hobbton’s coaches praised the effort of their team. The Wildcats had their moments on both offense and defense. The offense scored a couple of times, while the defense put up a good fight to try and keep their opponents out of the end zone.
“I thought we had improved even from Wednesday,” said head coach Robert Hill.
On Wednesday, the Wildcats scrimmaged with Charles B. Aycock and Spring Creek and Hill said his team has already shown progress from that game.
“I saw some good things there, but I feel like we have improved from that,” said Hill. “We have to go back to work on coming off the ball and learning plays to get the right angle. I think we are going to be OK.”
“I thought we had a good effort,” commented Hobbton’s offensive coach Steve Mallard. “We had some fundamental mistakes that we can correct and not knowing some assignments. We can get all that corrected and get ready for Goldsboro next week.”
The Wildcats host Goldsboro at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Midway Raiders had a overall successful night during the jamboree, epecially with such a young team and having a lot of new players. Head coach Jason Fussell, however, saw blocking and tackling as two key areas that the Raiders need to improve.
“We had a lot of heart. Our kids were making an effort and they weren’t backing down,” said Fussell. “We are young and basically all new, like our running backs. We got a new quarterback as well. Now we have two running quarterbacks.”
“Blocking and tackling are the things we need to work on,” Fussell continued. “We missed a lot of open field tackles, our blocking got better at times, but we’ve still got to figure it out.”
Midway has their work cut out for them this year, much like Clinton, as they’ve also got a tough schedule with a slew of new young players that have to get it together quickly.
“We got a few people banged up, we got some attention and we’re playing in a tough conference, but soon everything will begin anew,” remarked Fussell.
Lakewood High School showed a very promising start to the new season with many of their players returning this season, losing only one to graduation.
“We saw a lot of positive things, we also saw a lot of things we need to work on — that’s what a scrimmage is for,” said Lakewood coach James Lewis. “We feel our kids play with a lot of intensity and emotions, and that’s what we’re looking for. We feel we can correct the mistakes we made and we’re looking forward to the season.”
Humidity is a common thing with North Carolina summers as the heat can often have effect on players during the game, something that seemingly affected some of Lewis’ guys.
“Yes, we’ve been lucky so far, but tonight some of them got dehydrated and zapped early, said Lewis. “But that’s to be expected.”
More than anything, the Pigskin Jamboree is a chance for teams to get an early look at their competition and how they measure up. Lewis had a positive outlook, even as he noted where Lakewood needed to improve.
“We need to improve in all aspects of the game, remarked Lewis. “It’s early in the season, but we feel our offense is a little behind our defense. That’s normal early.”
Reach Sports Editor Michael Hardison at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.