LUMBERTON — New Lumberton head football coach Kelly Williamson is familiar with the Battle of the Carolinas jamboree, but he is still trying to figure out who will take the field for his team during the Aug. 9 scrimmage at Lumberton’s Alton Brooks Stadium.
Williamson was hired in February, and took part in the first three Battle of the Carolina Jamborees at his prior coaching stop, West Brunswick. Now he finds himself helping coordinate the fourth edition of the event, while also getting acclimated to his new team.
“It’s a little different hosting it than just being in it,” he said. “I don’t know what I’ve got, I don’t know who’s going to play what at Lumberton right now. Everybody looks good running around at 7-on-7, don’t they?
“I’m excited about our excitement here in Lumberton for this team. We will see what we can do.”
The host team Lumberton plays in the finale of the event against newcomer Marion at 9 p.m. Five games will be played during the event as Red Springs takes on Latta at 5 p.m., Fairmont goes against Lake View at 6 p.m., Purnell Swett battles East Bladen at 7 p.m. and Scotland and Dillon play at 8 p.m. in the games prior to the Lumberton contest.
Williamson has coached at several of the teams competing in the event, and knows that there is no shortage of talent on teams from both sides of the border.
“There’s a lot of great football around here,” Williamson said. “You can throw a net over Scotland, Richmond, Dillon, Lake View and there’s a lot of good football close to us, and a lot of good football in this jamboree.”
Red Springs competes in the event for the first time and second year coach Lawrence Ches sees this as an opportunity to challenge his team, and he welcomes what the matchup with Latta will bring.
“I just want them to go fast and put pressure on us,” Ches said. “I’m happy they are giving us a quality look when we are at our worst. … We’ve got a really young secondary, and Latta runs the spread and uptempo offense, and I want to see how our secondary holds up against that offense.”
In the past, Red Springs has hosted a jamboree around the time of the Battle of the Carolinas, but Ches said there’s more to get out of the the competition level.
“I just wanted to ratchet up the competition this year, and get an opportunity to play an even more quality opponent in a situation that is in more of a game-like setting,” he said.
Jon Sherman has prepped for his first three seasons at Purnell Swett in the event, but he faces a new challenge this time around with a young roster.
“It gives our kids the chance to feel those jitters and see who is going to step up with those jitters,” Sherman said. “Going into this season, outside of my first season not knowing who is going to step up, this is going to be a tough draw.”
For the fourth time in a row, Fairmont and Lake View battle in a meeting of two teams that are very familiar with each other. The two schools are separated by 11 miles.
“This is starting to become a rivalry between the two schools since both are 10 minutes apart,” Fairmont assistant Nick Vereene said. “A lot of kids are playing their cousins and brothers and stuff.”
For the second year in a row, Scotland and Dillon meet up in the battle of two of the most successful programs in the area in recent history. Both are coming off state championship game appearances, and Scotland coach Richard Bailey said his team looks a little different this season.
“We’ve played Dillon the last two years and it’s been competitive, but very friendly,” Bailey said. “We graduated 32 seniors. I feel like we will still competitive, but in Scotland County they don’t think anything changes. We are supposed to be really, really good.
“They (Dillon) are where everyone is trying to get to and it’s always a great matchup.”
The scrimmages will be two 20-minute running clock halves, with both halves and drives after scores starting with the ball on the 35-yard line. The one rule change made by the coaches at the press conference on Friday at the Village Station restaurant in Lumberton was to allow teams to punt the ball on fourth down to get the long snapper and punter reps. In the past, teams could elect to go for it on fourth down, or turnover possession and the ball goes 35 yards down the field. Teams without a punter will still have that option.
Teams competing in the event will get more than just the much needed reps of in-game action. Each school gets 100 tickets to pre-sale for the event at $5 apiece, along with $1,000 coming from participating in the event. The cost for tickets at the gate will be $7.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.