ROWLAND — The lights over the football field at South Robeson High School got an early test Friday night, as the Mustangs lined up for their final practice leading up to their first scrimmage of the season this Monday.
“It’s just great to get to play under the lights and get out there and hit,” offensive lineman Kaleb Bowen said.
The sophomore lineman wasn’t the only Mustang who was excited to get a chance to leave the practice field.
“It feels good. It gets the boys used to making contact,” said tight end Donel McCallum. “We have our little boys hitting us and make them grow up and be ready for Monday.”
The South Robeson coaching staff was also happy to get the players under the lights and a little more prepared for Monday’s scrimmage on the road against Latta.
“We think it’s pretty important, because they actually have to be under the lights,” receivers coach Aaron Johnson said. “Pretty soon we’re going to playing Latta (on) Monday under the lights, and then Thursday we’re going under lights again and the next week is the start of the season.”
Johnson also said the coaches saw a little extra from the players.
“They realized that now it’s time to hit and they just showed up here at the end,” he said. “They all did very well.”
The practice was also a chance for the parents and fans to get their first look at the Mustangs in full pads, and Johnson said Friday night’s crowd was one of the best he has seen for South Robeson for a midnight scrimmage since he had been there.
“Coach Jernigan has got it going, and I think the parents are getting involved now, which is a huge step,” Johnson said. “The community loves coach (Jernigan) so that’s a big part. They get behind the coach, and they buy into what we are doing, we can go a long way in 1A.”
Fairmont draws a crowd
FAIRMONT — The Fairmont football team didn’t do much advertising for Saturday’s midnight practice but that didn’t keep the crowd from showing up.
More than 100 fans watched the Golden Tornadoes work under the lights at Hal S. Floyd Stadium in the team’s last workout before a scrimmage on Monday.
“It’s good to see the fans out here,” said senior center George Grissett.
“It was kind of like a real game,” added senior running back Damian Ranson.
Fairmont practiced for 45 minutes under the lights, starting with skill drills and then moving to an intersquad scrimmage that highlighted the team’s offense.
“I surprised them, let them put on their new Nike uniforms that we got for them this year, so they were excited about that,” said Fairmont coach Randy Ragland.
Ragland said the goal of the late practice was to help build excitement within the community but he also liked what he saw from the team, especially given that they had practiced just several hours before.
“We had a little more pep in our step tonight, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “We looked fast at times and we looked like we were a better football team than I thought we were going to be at times.”
3 teams jamboree chance to build excitement
ST. PAULS — The first local football scrimmage of the year is approaching and Monday evening six teams will converge at St. Pauls High School.
St. Pauls athletic director Jeff Fipps said the scrimmage offers a chance for teams to save some money in the preseason.
“It saves some travel time and allows their fans to save money when coming to see their team play,” he said.
Fipps also said it will give the Bulldogs a chance to see what other teams are going to be bringing to the field this season.
“It’s going to allow us to see some things offensively and defensively with teams that we are going to see,” he said.
For Bulldog coach Trey Sasser, the scrimmages won’t offer too much for preparation, but it does have benefits to the local community as well as the county.
“It really is working to drum up some excitement in our area by having Red Springs and Fairmont locally come and draw a bigger crowd,” Sasser said. “We have had some people tell us they were excited to be able to catch three local teams in one city.”
County athletic director Jason Suggs agreed with Sasser, going on to say it also is a chance for kids to be able to hit someone that isn’t wearing the same uniform.
“Basically what they are going to see is the ironing out of plays and knocking the rust off,” Suggs said. ” With no spring practice, it’s the first time for them to get the pads onto someone else.”