Storms in the area cut the event short, but South Johnston hosted five other teams for a football scrimmage on Wednesday.
“I’m very pleased the way our offense scored on every series,” said South Johnston coach Matthew Riggsbee. “Coming from last Saturday, where we didn’t get the chance to score. It felt very good to score. However, we fumbled the ball way too many times. Defensively, we missed a lot of tackles. We put a lot of emphasis on tackling and tackling technique. We’re going to get down to the small details on why we were missing so many tackles tonight. We’ve got to fix that. If you can’t block and you can’t tackle, there’s no point in being out here. We missed several assignments on offense, with our scheme. Everything is fixable. No one got bullied. No one got beat. We beat ourselves at times by just not executing.”
Riggsbee was pleased with the team’s notable reduction in penalties, something the Trojans had struggled with at times in the past, particularly early in the season.
“I was proud of them when it came to penalties,” Riggsbee said. “In fact, there was a couple of times in the past where I think we would have retaliated because of certain things and our kids kept their cool and showed great sportsmanship. They were very disciplined when it came to the little things like penalties tonight.”
In addition to the host Trojans, Garner, South Garner, South Granville, West Craven and Northside Jacksonville participated in the event.
“As far as the competition, it was awesome,” Riggsbee said. “There were some great teams here. Garner. South Garner is a new program, but you can tell they’re going to be good. South Granville has been killing it the last couple of years. West Craven, happens to be my former team, is a perennial powerhouse. And Northside Jacksonville, two years ago they were in the state championship game. So, there was some great competition out here today.”
The event saw teams participate in a series of half-field scrimmages that lasted 15 minutes apiece before taking a five-minute water break and taking on an new opponent.
The event was scheduled to end with a set of 15-minute full-field scrimmages, but as the first one between West Craven and Northside Jacksonville approached the halfway point, lightning in the area put a halt to the proceedings and it was decided to end the event, rather than trying to wait out the storms.
South faced off against West Craven, where Riggsbee coached before being hired at South Johnston, South Granville, Northside Jacksonville and South Garner in the half-field scrimmages, but did not get to have its planned full-field scrimmage against Garner.
“We’ve had this thing, this was the fourth year in a row,” Riggsbee said. “It seems like it gets better and better every year. Unfortunately, we never get to finish. Just like last year (last year’s scrimmage was also stopped early for storms). The same time last year. I want to go up against Garner, because I know they’re one of the best. And if you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. And that is a good measuring stick for us. And two years in a row, we’ve not had a chance to do that. Unfortunately, we can’t control the weather.”
The Trojans were without junior starting quarterback Chase Carroll due to a concussion. Sophomore Brayden Barefoot ran the offense in his stead.
“Brayden’s a good player,” Riggsbee said. “Brayden’s a good athlete. Whatever Brayden touches, he’s good at.”
Senior running back Jaequan Wells did not participate in South Johnston’s scrimmage at South Garner Saturday due to an ankle injury. He returned for Tuesday’s event, but saw limited action as a precaution.
“You can tell, even with a hurt ankle, once he’s in there, he’s a difference maker,” Riggsbee said. “Once he gets back to full strength, I think you’ll see some big things. However, we have a great stable of running backs right now. Tony Faison, I thought had an amazing game on offense. He made some great cuts and great moves. Damonte Burgess is one of our young kids and has had two great scrimmages at running back. And then Keyshawn Sanders, who is a receiver/DB got some reps as well and he had a great run in there, too.”
South Johnston opens the season at home against Gray’s Creek on Aug. 23.