ROWLAND — South Robeson football coach Clay Jernigan is taking an optimistic approach to the fact that two of his top performers from a year ago are sidelined with injuries.
Instead of dwelling in the fact the leading returning rusher Jamaeros McLeod and lineman and tight end Cameron Werrell aren’t out there to contribute for the Mustangs, he’s looking at the fact that his inexperienced reserve guys, that will be top producers in the coming years, are getting experience in the non-conference schedule.
“A lot of coaches look at it as a down thing. I look at it as a positive thing because my younger kids are getting playing experience,” Jernigan said. “I’ve got three sophomores and one seniors getting most of the handoffs. You’ve got to look forward instead of back.”
That schedule returns home for the first time this season, as the Mustangs host Lake View out of South Carolina that is two years removed from a Class A state championship.
South Robeson (0-1) comes into the meeting knowing that its last time out, a few minutes of game clock or extra yards could’ve mattered in a 22-20 loss at Union.
“I thought last week that our kids showed a lot of heart,” Jernigan said. “We didn’t quit and if we had one more minute on the clock we probably would’ve punched it in. We had it inside the red zone three times and laid the ball on the ground.”
“The key thing with that is they are young folks and we’ve got to keep practicing with them.”
McLeod and Werrell will likely sit out this week as Jernigan wants to make sure that they both are at full strength and not rushed back.
“I’m not going to rush it,” Jernigan said. “Like I told somebody the other day, I don’t know if the news about Zamir White put the fear in me about putting them out there sooner than they should be. Most likely won’t see them this week. We’ve got nine conference games and I don’t want to lose either one of them in a non-conference game.”
As a sophomore last season, McLeod stepped up to be one of three running backs that fueled the Mustangs to the playoff appearance.
Much like the Wing-T oriented Mustangs, the Wild Gators (1-1) like to run the ball as well, but do it more out of the spread, led by players like sophomore quarterback Adarrian Dawkins and senior running back Benji Kelley.
“They try to get their best players matching up and putting out in space,” Jernigan said. “The quarterback runs real well. … They’re good all over.”
In the matchup between the teams in the last two seasons, Lake View has came away with sizeable wins by scores of 50-6 and 44-14.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.