Payne voted defensive MVP in All-Star victory

Published 4:03 pm Monday, December 18, 2023

Washington High School standout Gary Payne made his final high school football game a memorable one for a couple of reasons. His team won and he was named the game’s Most Valuable Defensive Player.

The third annual contest at John Paul II High School in Greenville has seniors from the 252 area coach facing off against those from the 919. The 252 prevailed, 16-10, for the second straight season.

Southside head coach Jeff Carrow coached the 252 offensive line Saturday while Seahawks running back/defensive back Tequon Moore participated in team activities, but didn’t play because of a knee injury he suffered during a recent basketball game.

The players reported Wednesday evening, held two practices a day Thursday and Friday and did a group volunteer activity both days when they weren’t practicing.

“The whole event was very well organized and the kids had a great time,” Carrow said. “We had a couple injuries to our offensive linemen during practice, so it was a challenge shuffling everyone into the right spot. We played the game with six offensive lineman and they did a great job.”

Players from 24 different schools from around the East suited up for the contest, which turned into a low-scoring affair thanks to a strong defensive effort from Payne and his teammates.

“This was my first chance to spend time around Gary and he’s an outstanding young man who played a great game,” Carrow said. “He put consistent pressure on the quarterback all day from his spot on the edge and had several tackles for loss. He definitely deserved his MVP award. It’s a shame Tequon couldn’t play, but he didn’t want to risk it.”

The 252 squad led 3-0 at halftime, then the 919 team took a 7-3 lead in the third quarter on an interception return for a touchdown. 252 took advantage of a turnover deep in 919 territory to regain the lead, then put the game away with a 15 yard scoring run on a reverse.

“I had guys from (Wilson) Hunt, South Central, New Bern, Havelock, Currituck and West Craven on the offensive line and it was neat to see them work together so well after such a short time as a unit,” Carrow said. “I liked talking to the other coaches about certain plays and schemes and how they run practice. I brought a few things back that you might see next fall.”