Local teams tested

Published 10:01 pm Friday, August 15, 2014

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS MULTIPLE LOOKS: Southside’s running game came out with a newfound intensity during Friday’s preseason jamboree.

MULTIPLE LOOKS: Southside’s running game came out with a newfound intensity during Friday’s preseason jamboree.

Southside holds five-team jamboree

CHOCOWINITY — All three county high school varsity and junior varsity football teams were on display Friday night at The Nest in their final scrimmages before the start of the regular season.

Southside’s five-team jamboree showcased the Seahawks, Washington Pam Pack, Northside Panthers, South Lenoir Blue Devils and Spring Creek Gators. The field was divided down the 50-yard line, as eight teams, including the three JV squads, rotated out every 15-20 minutes. Each competitor provided a different look, as hundreds of fans filled in the seats to get an early look at their teams.

Despite the condensed gameplay, the coaches’ and players’ intensity was evident. First and second offenses and defense were swapped out on each set, allowing head coaches Sport Sawyer, Keith Boyd and Jeff Carrow the opportunity to breakdown each component of their teams.

After Northside’s and Southside’s JV teams took the field to open up the jamboree, Northside’s varsity squad lined up against Washington in what was a rocky start for the Panthers. Quarterback Noel Howson had trouble executing the double-wing offense, as the Washington defense shut down the run game. A couple botched snaps and two fumbles also gave the Pam Pack early momentum.

On offense, senior running back Markel Spencer broke free for a 40-yard TD run on the first play of the drive. Trey Spruill opened up the next drive with a 25-yard run and two plays later, Spencer found himself in the end zone, once again, this time on a 20-yard run. Before the first game was over, Spencer would notch another touchdown after juking out a few Panthers corners.

“He has a burst of speed in his first three or four steps that’s really just god given talent,” Sawyer said. “The line did a very good job of blocking today, but his first three steps are hard to compete against.”

Despite a slow start, Northside grew stronger with each game and began to limit the turnovers. Tailback Rockne Butler, one of Boyd’s top assets, recorded a couple of touchdowns on the night.

In the next set of games, Carrow’s Seahawks came out with electrifying intensity to face South Lenoir, while on the other side of the field, Washington faced off against its own JV team. Before play began, Washington offensive line coach Dewayne Kellum got the chance to shake the hands of some of his former Southside players.

It was all Seahawks out of the gate, as Matt Baxter, Dylan Lewis and Lawrence Brown quickly began to rack up yardage. And while not traditionally a passing team, quarterback Johnny Sullivan was able to connect with tight end Jorrin Balliey and Brown on multiple occasions.

“We’re getting a little bit of swagger, toughness to us,” Carrow said. “The kids are buying in. I love the attitude. When things go a little wrong out there — we bust a play or have a mistake — they’re not hanging their heads and correcting it the next play.”

Northside broke out the options in their game against Spring Creek and finally got their offense firing on all cylinders.

In the last set of games, Washington and Southside closed the jamboree with an excellent couple of series, ignited by a 27-yard run by Pam Pack running back Clinton Pope. The Seahawks defense responded, however, and shut down Washington’s dynamic offensive attack. It came down to a goal-line stand for the Seahawks defense.

The defensive line, led by senior Austin Jordan, held back the Pam Pack three times, but Spencer found a seam and the end zone, once again.

“I thought Southside played very hard and well,” Sawyer said. “They had a good defensive stand within the five yard line. I give those guys credit for bowing up. It was just a good little football series.”

Overall, Carrow likes where his team is at a week away from the season opener.

“We had different guys step up today than we did from our first scrimmage, which is a positive,” he said. “Our wingbacks showed up pretty good in our first scrimmage, but our fullback and tailbacks did an outstanding job today. We’re spreading the ball around and that’s a great thing.”

Now that scrimmages are over, teams will look to fine tune their playbooks and work on conditioning before the first game on Friday.