Midway hosted 7-on-7 football scrimmages for the second straight year on Thursday. In addition to the Raiders, Triton and Lakewood participated for the second straight year and were joined by Hobbton, North Johnston and St. Pauls.
The event has grown in the past year, as four teams participated when the Raiders hosted in 2018 and six participated this year. Midway coach Corey Barnes hopes that the growth will continue.
“I hope it keeps growing,” Barnes said. “I like the fact that teams want to come throw. It’s good to get these kids out early and get them in shape along with playing some type of football. Hopefully next year we can start having more than just one. That way, we have some teams coming, hopefully, every week here to get ourselves good looks. That’s only going to help us, especially in our pass game. It’s only going to help us to get our quarterbacks and our receivers to be better.”
Midway opened the day against Triton before taking on North Johnston and then finishing with St. Pauls.
“We competed,” Barnes said. “That’s what seven-on-seven’s for: start on working on reads with your quarterbacks and your defense, making sure they’re working on their reads and pass drops and stuff like that. It wasn’t bad today. It can get better. But overall I liked the way we competed against every school we played.”
Barnes, entering his second season as Midway’s coach, hopes the offseason will lead into success once the season starts.
“You try to take momentum (from the previous season) into conditioning and lifting weights,” Barnes said. “And then once you get into spring practice you start installing and you try to carry that over and hopefully it falls into the fall. I’m hoping the success they’re seeing in what they’re playing leads into the fall.”
Triton matched up against all three Sampson County schools, starting off against Midway before meeting Hobbton and then ending the day against Lakewood.
Triton coach Ben Penny noted he was missing three players: Dylan Smith, Levi Bennett and Malihk Giles and was pleased with what he saw from the group he had present.
“I’m just happy we came and competed, being shorthanded and having some guys step up in different spots,” Penny said. “I always like coming down here with these guys, coach Barnes and (Lakewood) coach (Barrett) Sloan. A little friendly competition. They’re going to run their stuff. We’re going to run our stuff. A productive day seeing real football. Some of these guys come in and have a seven-on-seven specific offense and defense, things you’ll never see on Friday night. We got our guys a good chance to come in and really work on what you do and the other team to work on what they do. We’re going into our first summer vacation next week and we’re real happy to end on a good note.”
Penny thought rising junior J.P. Petoletti and rising senior Travion Sanders, who split time at quarterback, improved as the day went on, particularly Petoletti. Sanders also played some at the wide receiver position when Petoletti was under center.
“We thought our quarterbacks got better,” Penny said. “We started off slow today and we were throwing into some outmatched coverage situations that we should not have been in. Once the day went on, I thought J.P. got better. We’re happy from where we started the first day of spring practice until now with our quarterbacks. We’re very pleased with the progression they’re making. We’ve still got a long ways to go. We hope that they’ll continue to do that. We’ll be able to mix in more of a passing game than we have in the past, hopefully, if we continue to get better.”
Penny noted that last year’s young team was more experienced, but the Hawks would be a mostly young team again this year.
“Still young, but got that varsity experience, which makes a huge difference,” Penny said. “We’re excited to get Levi, Dylan and Malihk and some of the other guys that weren’t here today back and put it all together, which we will do a team camp (at Mount Olive next month). We’re real excited to see what that’s going to look like going into fall camp.”
Hobbton started off against St. Pauls before facing off against Triton and then finished with North Johnston.
“We’re getting there,” said Wildcats coach Joe Salas. “We had a 7-on-7 at N.C. State earlier and we showed improvement. That’s all we’re doing (7-on-7s).
“We’ll practice a little bit in July. We’re excited. We think we have a good group.”
Salas talked about quarterback Grayson Rogers.
“He was Offensive Player of the Year in the conference in baseball,” Salas said. “He’s a pretty good football player, too.”
Midway, Triton and Hobbton begin the season at home on Aug. 23. The Raiders host Union, the Hawks face Harnett County rival Overhills and East Chapel Hill visits the Wildcats.