With the night sky brightened up by the football lights overlooking the stadium at Clinton High School, it’s a sure sign that summer is coming to a screeching halt. The sign is confirmed by a bunch of guys running around in shoulder pads and helmets.
After playing at Union High School last August, the Sampson County Football Kickoff Jamboree returned to Clinton Friday night. Each of the 5 public schools in the county got an opportunity to run defense and offense against each of the others.
The Midway Raiders, beginning their second season under the guidance of head coach Jason Fussell, scrimmaged without many of the Raiders who led them to a 7-5 season last fall.
Gone are such standouts as Cameron Godwin, Jeremy Robinson, Andre Sankey, Kyle Hawley, Tyler Pope, Collin Warren, and Jaylon Stewart, among others.
Austin Raynor, who received some snaps on the varsity level last season as the “quarterback in waiting,” assumed command at DarkHorse Stadium. According to Coach Fussell, “the quarterbacks did good. The speed’s different from j. v. and they saw that tonight.” Jake Clark also handled a few plays at quarterback.
Raynor found receivers J. D. Lockamy, Shaking Warren, and Paris Smith for good yardage during the course of the evening.
Leading ball carriers were Labi Olanipekun, Larry Blanks, and Warren. The Raiders got 2 touchdowns from Blanks and 1 from Clark.
The Raiders’ scores came against Hobbton, Clinton, and Union. The defense yielded touchdowns to Clinton (2) and Lakewood.
The defensive backfield had some question marks going in, sporting some new personnel. “We were expecting these teams to all be improved a little bit and we were satisfied in some areas,” attested defensive coordinator Billy McLamb.
“We’ve got to work on our tackling a little better this week. We’ve got a little work to do in our secondary.”
“We started off kind of shaky, and acted like we weren’t sure of ourselves” stated Fussell, “but in the second half I thought our guys played pretty well. The offensive line blocked well. Defense played pretty good all night long. We got burnt in coverage a few times. There was nothing that wasn’t correctable.”
The Raiders will play for real on Friday at county rival Hobbton.