Harnett Central took part in the Harnett Jamboree on Friday at Campbell’s Barker-Lane Stadium.
“I was pleased,” said HC coach Matt Migliore. “Obviously, there are a lot of things that we need to fix and work on. Because of some injuries and we had a few guys that didn’t have days to meet the requirements, we only dressed out 17 kids. … We were pretty limited in what we had, but as far as performing at five o’clock in the afternoon — it was hot as blazes on that field — for our guys to kind of suck it up and play for two straight hours, I was pretty proud of them. I like how we progressed.”
John Rhody had a rushing touchdown for the Trojans. Jaden Meadows had a pair of scoring receptions from Hayden Smith as Central scrimmaged Apex and Southern Nash.
The Trojans and Apex each scored once. The Firebirds outscored Central, 3-2.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Migliore said. “We’re a lot better than we were in the past. The kids are learning and they’re starting to figure things out. … I feel like we’re getting better and better.”
The Trojans open the season at West Johnston on Friday night. Central went 2-9 after losing the first game to West Johnston, 40-20. The Trojans were 1-4 in the Tri-County Six 3-A Conference.
“We’ve just got to believe we can win,” said the second-year Central coach. “That’s the biggest thing. They’ve been in such a funk the last nine or 10 years. Wins are hard to come by. Last year, the first time I experienced it in my 19 years as a coach, you go down 7-0 and the kids automatically assume the game’s over just because they’ve been in that position so many times so we’ve really got to get them to believe that they can win.
“I think we’re playing a team that we can compete real well against, that we really have a real good opportunity to play with and win. So if we can get the kids to believe that, I think we’re going to put ourselves in a good position. We’ve just got a wonderful group of kids from ninth through 12th grade that we enjoy the heck out of coaching. They’re buying in to everything that we’re preaching to them.
“If we can get them to believe this week and we’re the better team, I like where we stand going into Friday.”
The Wildcats will present a challenge in terms of the potential of their ground game.
“We’ve got to stop the run,” Migliore said. “They’re a run-heavy team. They’ve got some athletes who can get to the edge. From a physical standpoint, we’re going to be playing a lot of guys both ways. That’s going to be a determining factor. Mentally, can we do that? You know you’re going to get tired, obviously. Can you mentally keep yourself focused and do what you’re asked to do without getting a lot of rest?
“We think, from a physical standpoint up front, we’ve got an advantage there. Hopefully, we can maximize that advantage, but they do have some skill guys on the offensive side of the ball that can be dangerous.”