LUMBERTON — The Fairmont, Lumberton and Purnell Swett football teams took losses in the second annual Battle of the Carolinas Football Classic on Wednesday at Alton Brooks Stadium, but each squad walked away with a feel of where they are and where they need to be as the regular season approaches.
“We go on and keep trying to fix the chess board,” said Lumberton coach Mike Setzer, whose team lost 7-0 to Marlboro County. “We have to clean some things up and we’ll be ready for (Aug.) 19.”
The Pirates played in the final game of the night, giving up a score in the final two minutes on a touchdown pass just inside the redzone. For most of the night, Lumberton was stout on defense, with Tyreik McCallum earning the top highlight on an interception early in the contest.
“The last couple of practices we’ve lacked some enthusiasm, so I’m very excited about the way they came out and competed,” Setzer said. “I like the way we flew around; I’m happy about that. Both sides of the ball had miscues and mistakes, but those are all things that can be corrected. I just wanted to see people compete.”
The event featured five scrimmages between teams from North Carolina and South Carolina, with Fairmont opening the afternoon against Lakeview.
The Golden Tornadoes lost 21-7 to the Wild Gators, scoring their only touchdown on a 75-yard pass from Julius Caulder to Jarique Moore. Halijah McLean was also impressive for Fairmont, breaking off several long runs out of the backfield.
For Golden Tornadoes coach Mark Heil, the defense was an area of concern coming in — and it showed throughout the contest.
“We have a lot of building to do on defense again,” Heil said. “If we can get those people in the right place, we’ll be OK. We have nine new people, the whole defensive front is new, inexperienced and young. You could tell that in the scrimmage. We’re working on some stunts and not doing it the way we want. Offensively, I wasn’t unhappy at all.”
But overall, Heil wasn’t concerned with the loss as much as seeing his team grow.
“Winning a scrimmage is not important,” he said, “it’s about getting after it and getting better.”
Purnell Swett held its own in an 21-0 loss to Dillon, winners of four straight state championships.
The Wildcats scored on a fumble recovery, wide receiver screen and a long fade route in the contest.
With back-to-back stops on defense to start the second half, the Rams showed promise at times, impressing second-year coach Jon Sherman.
“I thought we definitely played tough,” Sherman said. “We were physical. Defensively, I was very happy. The only problem I saw was we gave up a personal foul, and a young guy gets in that doesn’t play much gets burnt. So we have to have 11 guys out there doing the right thing.”
Offensively, Desmond Davis and Luke Oxendine split time at quarterback, but dropped passes plagued the Rams, leaving Sherman with mixed emotions.
“There are things I like, but we have to gel a little more,” he said. “I’m really happy with how we fought. Our kids responded, we just have to get better and execute. We’re getting somewhat close to where I want us to be.”
In the other two games of the jamboree, Latta earned an 14-7 win over West Brunswick and Scotland won 28-0 against East Bladen.
Running back Zamir White scored twice for the Scots. White is the nation’s top back in the Class of 2018.