LUMBERTON — Nearly every day since last season ended, the Lumberton football team has been working to avoid the same fate it faced last year, when the Pirates went 1-10, their only win coming in the season finale vs. Purnell Swett.
“It’s been a grind every day since the Purnell Swett game,” said Jermaine Williams, who will be a senior this fall. “We never stopped working.”
A large part of the work has came in the weight room, where incoming defensive coordinator Garron Warwick has put a high emphasis on building strength.
The Pirates got to see how they stacked up when they hosted and won the inaugural four-team Beast of the East weightlifting tournament on Wednesday. Participants from teams were broken up into 10 divisions based on their weight, then each had three attempts each to hit a max on the bench press and the clean.
The Pirates finished with 18 of the event’s 27 placers and had 66 team points. Athens Drive took second with 12, followed by Westover with 7 and Cary with 1.
“Winning this right here puts us past that old stigma of losers and (shows) the ability not just to compete but to win,” Lumberton football coach Mike Setzer said. “I’m excited.”
Warwick organized the event based on his experiences in Florida, where weightlifting is team sport.
“It became a priority because when you start competing at it, it raises the level a lot more,” he said.
He’s held similar meets in his last stint at Lumberton and while in different coaching positions around the state. The goal is to do it again next summer at the same time of year, just with more teams.
Warwick said the meets have a tendency to motivate teams to get in shape.
“Even the teams that didn’t win will be motivated because of this meet,” he said. “It’s so much fun that it will motivate them in their training.”
Not that a player like Williams needed extra motivation.
“It was my birthday, so I had to win,” he said.
The senior out-lifted the rest of the participants, doing 315 pounds on the clean and 335 on the bench for a total of 650 pounds. His closest competitor was teammate Monteris Cromartie, who won his weight division and took second overall with 615 pounds, which included a meet-high 340 on the bench.
Cromartie said it was motivating having players from other schools around.
‘It seemed like we had more to prove,” he said.
Other weight division winners from Lumberton included Jamari Cain, Pete Townsend, Jermaine Williams, Landon Brewer, Josh Murphy, Monquez Townsend, Lucky McNeil and Travis Suggs. Westover’s Andrew Donaldson was the only non-Pirate to win a weight group.
Warwick credited the team’s success to its motivation following last season.
“The kids have put in the work,” he said. “Everything I’ve asked them to do, they’ve done it and they’ve done it to the best of their ability. Now the results are showing.”