Gains in the rain
Sat. August 17, 2013 at 10:15 p.m. | By Eric Detweiler | StarNews Staff Writer | Eric.Detweiler@starnewsonline.com
Trask's Cameron Carr runs up the middle against Swansboro during the Pender County Jamboree at Pender High School in Burgaw on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013. (Photo by Matt Born)
BURGAW | As rain pounded the area Saturday morning, Pender football coach Tony Hudson faced the real possibility that the Touchstone Energy Pender County Jamboree would be canceled, the chance for a final tuneup before the regular season lost.
Luckily for Hudson, the skies cleared just before the host Patriots kicked off the event against East Carteret, and the third-year coach didn't have to fret the consequences of a washout on his young squad. Despite the wet weather that later returned, the three Pender County teams each squeezed in a scrimmage in the sloppy conditions.
"I'm telling you we needed it more than you know," Hudson said. "We had to get those live reps. It's not the same until you see those live bullets."
Pender took its lumps against East Carteret, an expected result for Hudson with so many new varsity players to break in.
In the only scrimmage that went the scheduled two hours, the Patriots forced a pair of turnovers on defense but also allowed several big plays, including a 60-yard touchdown run. Later, junior Dalvin Watkins, a transfer from West Charlotte, prevented another long score when he chased down a receiver from behind and stripped the ball near the goal line.
On offense, Hudson's squad didn't score during the game situation portion of the scrimmage. Junior Rayshawn DeLoach and freshman Jake Rawls both took snaps at quarterback during that period.
Hudson said DeLoach, a converted wide receiver, will start the season-opener against Laney, but the coach plans to give the youngster a chance to earn playing time.
"We're just trying to find the right mix for us," Hudson said.
Coming off a winless season, Trask has reason for optimism with a solid corps of returning skill position players who devoted the offseason to reversing the team's 2012 struggles.
The Titans flashed quick-strike ability against Swansboro before the coaches halted the matchup 30 minutes early because of heavy rain that made it difficult for both teams to hang on to the ball. The teams alternated running 10 plays of offense and never got to game situations with first-down markers.
Seniors Austin Richardson and Cameron Carr and junior Dejuane Farrior each scored on runs of at least 30 yards for the Titans, who host Topsail to open the season on Friday.
"We're not going to get anybody hurt in this mess," Trask coach Glenn Sellers said. "We saw what we wanted to see, had a good scrimmage, so that's good enough."
The rain stopped in time for the nightcap, but the deteriorating field conditions made offense difficult for Topsail and North Brunswick, both run-oriented teams. The Scorpions scored the only touchdown in an hour of scrimmaging with the junior varsity squads on the field.
Under first-year coach Wayne Inman, Topsail hopes to be a power running team, and the coach understood why his running back tandem of senior Wayland Batson and sophomore Tyreques Cooper couldn't get going.
"You just can't get no traction out there," Inman said. "We're going to pride ourselves in knocking people off the football, and you couldn't knock people off the football in those conditions."
North Brunswick coach Garry Bishop hoped the final scrimmage of the preseason would help create separation in his three-way quarterback battle but left Pender with few answers.
Senior Randy Clark and junior Shelton Perkins split reps, while senior Emel Tilman, last season's backup quarterback, watched from the sidelines with a back strain. He said all three could take snaps on Friday at Whiteville.
"Our whole scheme is based on a lot of reads and pitches, so it kind of slowed our game down," Bishop said. "It wasn't a perfect situation for us, but then you might have to play in it down the road."