Twelve teams, including five from Cumberland County, faced off in half-field scrimmages.

After rain shortened Day 1 of the BSN Sports Cumberland County Football Jamboree on Wednesday, the second day of scrimmages went off without a hitch at Jack Britt on Thursday.

Twelves teams — five from in-county schools — faced off, some for the first time in full contact against outside opponents.

Here’s a look at how Cumberland County’s teams shaped up.

GRAY'S CREEK VS. WEST BLADEN

The Bears showed off a mix of returners and new faces, including some first-year starters among the offensive skills positions, in their scrimmage against West Bladen.

Junior running backs Ja’Waune Haskins and Gaven Freeman filled in nicely alongside of senior returners Trey Beckett and Cedrick McDowell, all working in the backfield with first-time starter Ben Lovette at quarterback.

Coach David Lovette said returners and newcomers alike had room for improvement so early in the season, but that the Bears were looking to expand their experience down the roster.

“We were trying to get everybody healthy tonight,” the coach said. “We got through a lot of kids, and a lot of guys got some experience tonight. But we got through it healthy, and I’m happy about that.”

SOUTH VIEW VS. EASTERN WAYNE

Tigers’ coach Rodney Brewington can’t remember the last time he had to start five untested offensive linemen.

But he’s sure it wasn’t on the varsity squad.

“This is the first time in my career I’ve had to start five new guys up front that wasn’t a J.V. team,” Brewington said. “Our challenge was just making sure we knew our keys, and I was proud of the way the kids executed.”

The young offensive line gave the Tigers’ backfield, anchored by four-year starter Donovan Brewington, time to develop plays with consistency during the scrimmage.

The performance earned the approval of the quarterback.

“I’m actually really proud of the guys that are learning new things,” the senior said. “Some of these guys haven’t really even played offensive line before, and they’re really stepping up. We asked these guys to do something, and they do it.”

SEVENTY-FIRST VS. LEE COUNTY

Depth development is the name of the game at Seventy-First.

With program-building in mind, the Falcons, who have more than two dozen seniors on the team this season, limited its starters to two series in its scrimmage against Lee County.

Coach Duran McLaurin said the starters performed well, scoring on both series, but pulled those players after 20 snaps in favor of getting inexperienced players some action.

“We’re trying to build depth going into the season,” coach Duran McLaurin said. We don’t want injuries to come back and bite us during the season. If a guy goes down, the next guy needs to be pretty good, so we don’t lose our momentum.”

Quarterback Kyler Davis, who’s entering his fourth year as a starter, said the starting units and reserves will continue to work heading into the opening of the regular season.

“Everything felt great out there, but we’ve got some things to work on,” Davis said. “The communication for everybody needs to be on point. We’ll go in tomorrow, watch film and getting ready for Monday practice. It’s game week.”

— Jaclyn Shambaugh, Staff writer

DOUGLAS BYRD VS. ST. PAULS

 

After a less-than-stellar performance in a scrimmage at Mount Tabor on Wednesday, Douglas Byrd came out with plenty of energy Thursday at Jack Britt.

Behind a rushing attack led by Cape Fear transfer Earlee Melvin and Sabeon Campbell, the Eagles scored five touchdowns to keep the Bulldogs on their heels.

“We went to Winston-Salem (on Wednesday), got 25 plays in, and we struggled,” said Eagles coach Mike Paroli.

“We were better (on Thursday). Our enthusiasm, our intensity was better. Hopefully, we’ll progress. We have five guys who can run it. We just can’t hold (on the offensive line) and drop the football like we’re prone to do.”

Melvin scored three touchdowns during the 60-minute scrimmage and Campbell added two more for the Eagles, who gave up three scores but got a stop on the final series to stay ahead.

Still, Paroli continues to be concerned with the youth on the defensive side of the ball.

“We struggled defensively,” he said. “The defense definitely needs a lot of work.”

HOKE COUNTY VS. EAST MONTGOMERY

 

As a former defensive lineman in college and the NFL, George Small appreciated the dominant display from Hoke County against 2-A East Montgomery on Thursday.

The Bucks kept the Eagles off the scoreboard, bringing the energy from start to finish in Small’s first scrimmage as head coach.

“I’m all about defense,” Small said with a laugh.

“That helps your offense and everything else. I thought those guys were flying to the football. We work them good in practice and they saw the dividends of doing what we ask them to do.”

Quarterback Xavier Ford gave Hoke some early momentum with a rushing touchdown on the opening series, followed with a long score by Tory Peterkin before Ford capped the scrimmage with another score.

“I wanted them to play hard because we’ve been practicing hard. I saw the intensity and I was happy with that part of it,” Small said.

While he was excited with the energy level and early production from his group, Small still sees plenty of room for improvement.

“I wasn’t happy with the penalties or mistakes, but we’re young,” he said. “It wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be, but we have to get better.”

JACK BRITT VS. APEX FRIENDSHIP

 

Brian Randolph preaches it to the Jack Britt football team on a daily basis.

“When you have a chance to make a play, make it,” the Buccaneers head coach says.

“You’re going to get an opportunity, especially in the preseason. You have to take advantage of those opportunities when you get a chance.”

In their scrimmage against Apex Friendship on Thursday, the host Buccaneers saw two players steal the spotlight with big plays: DeShawn Curtis and Tyree Gilbert.

Gilbert, a reserve defensive back for the Bucs, made what likely would have been a game-sealing interception in a live-game situation.

He jumped a receiver's route to snag the pick with two minutes left in the scrimmage, but the Patriots would score a few plays later in the final seconds to secure the tie.

“I was glad to be out there to catch that pick,” Gilbert said. “I was hoping I would get a chance to make a play. I did it and I hope I can keep doing that during the season.”

After a sluggish start for both squads, Curtis provided a much-needed spark for the offense with a spectacular catch.

Fighting off a defender in the end zone, the senior wide receiver reeled in a two-handed touchdown grab to put the Bucs on the board.

“We’re looking for guys to be physical,” Randolph said.

“We know our defense is going to be pretty good. Some of those guys that play defense are going to have to play both ways and we’re looking for some guys on offense, especially up front, that will make plays.”

Quarterback Kevin Sentell would score Britt’s final touchdown, weaving his way through defenders until he reached the end zone on the final offensive possession for the hosts.

And Randolph’s group accomplished its main goal going into the scrimmage: no major injuries.

“Being healthy, that’s the main thing,” he said. “We had some guys that were dinged up that got some reps and were able to walk away without a hobble.”

— Rodd Baxley, Staff writer