RED SPRINGS — After watching their teams compete in the Robeson County football jamboree on Wednesday, Red Springs coach Ron Cook and South Robeson coach Clay Jernigan saw some things they liked — and some things they didn’t.
Their teams were two of five from the region battling on the gridiron at Red Springs High School for a three-hour scrimmage.
For Cook, the results of the Red Devils’ performance offered a “pleasant surprise.”
“It was kind of the opposite of what I was expecting,” said Cook, whose team faced 2A West Bladen and 3A Westover. “Our (offensive line) was struggling in camp, but they played very well today. Pass protection was great and right away they opened up a hole in the running game that Ron (Alexander) ran through for a touchdown on the opening play.”
Each team scrimmaged for an hour, alternating on offense and defense for 10 plays. The Red Springs offense got off to a fast start against West Bladen, scoring five times in a matter of minutes.
Cook was impressed with the ability of his receivers and running backs during both games.
“Our skill guys made a lot of plays when they got the ball in their hands,” Cook said. “Our quarterbacks made some real nice throws to get it to them. You’ve got to give some credit to the o-line for giving them time.”
While he was impressed with the offensive production, Cook saw plenty of room for improvement on the defensive side of the ball.
“Defensively we’ve got to be better with our fundamentals,” he said. “We ran by some guys a few times. Our conditioning has to get better too. I think we have a good front seven, we just need to tighten up fundamentally.”
The inconsistencies come with the territory at this time in the season as teams prepare for their regular season openers. With that in mind, Cook is pleased with his team’s overall growth.
“I’m proud,” he said. “One thing I’ve learned and was told by one of my high school coaches is, you’re never as good as you thought or as bad as you thought. But I’d rather be too critical than think we’re better than we are.”
Jernigan had similar things to say about his squad after the Mustangs played Westover and Word of God Christian Academy. It was the team’s second scrimmage event in two days, with Jernigan adding that fatigue was a factor in his team’s play.
“I saw some bright things, but I also saw some things I didn’t like,” Jernigan said. “I think we can correct them. I thought we had a better scrimmage at East Montgomery. I figured we would be a little sluggish today, but not this sluggish.”
The youth of Jernigan’s team showed in each match, as the Mustangs struggled to hold on to the ball, turning it over multiple times. Darrius Brown showed some promise out of the backfield, breaking out for some nice runs during the scrimmage against Westover.
For Jernigan, the jamboree served as a measuring stick, showing where the Mustangs are currently at and where they need to be.
“We have a long way to go,” he said. “I saw good things with my underclassmen. (Tuesday) was roses, (Wednesday) wasn’t. It ain’t going to be peaches and ice cream every day. We’ve just got to grow up, learn that and get better.”
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.