What can be said about a high school football jamboree?
In reality, not much.
It’s just the final scrimmage for football teams after two and a half weeks of sprints, drills and practice.
Thursday marked the second annual Nash County Football Jamboree at Rocky Mount High School and the Gryphons welcomed Northern Nash, Southern Nash, Nash Central, Southeast Halifax, Bertie and Knightdale for an evening of football.
While there was plenty of excitement for the unofficial start to the season, there was also one common theme: developing depth.
Coaches weren’t focused on winning games. Instead, they were invested in figuring out who will be able to help their teams starting next Friday.
“What we’re trying to do is get a look at everybody. We know who knows the offense and defense, but we want to know who can play,” Rocky Mount coach Jason Battle said.
“We’re trying to play everybody,” Nash Central coach Kevin Crudup added. “The emphasis I had with my coaches was to put our players in situations they haven’t been in before, because when we get to the game, we have to make adjustments on the fly.”
Sure, Rocky Mount quarterback Joshua Carter’s multiple touchdown performance was notable. So was Southern Nash sophomore Kahlil Brown’s multiple sacks.
But Thursday wasn’t about individual numbers. It was about rotating bodies and seeing different schemes.
“The neat thing about a jamboree is we get to see so many different styles of football,” Southern Nash coach Brian Foster said. “We’re trying to get everybody on film, because you never know who is going to impress.”
The Gryphons came into Thursday with a veteran at quarterback and plenty of talent at wide receiver. It didn’t take long for that to show.
Carter was both efficient and effective against Bertie and Knightdale.
Battle spoke highly of his quarterback after the jamboree, but it was also his defense that drew praise.
The Gryphons held Southeast Halifax to just 10 yards on 10 plays at one point in the scrimmage. Sophomore defensive end Octavious Richardson had a constant presence in the backfield, and showed he has a chance to be one of the area’s top linemen in the coming years.
For freshman cornerback Nadir Thompson, Thursday wasn’t just a jamboree. It was his first taste of varsity football.
Foster said before the event that Thompson was, “either going to rise to the occasion, or head back down to junior varsity.”
Thompson showed he’s ready to earn a varsity letter. He undercut a route against Southern Halifax and intercepted a pass in the end zone.
The Firebirds will play youth on both sides of the ball this season, and Thompson will headline the group.
The Bulldogs entered the jamboree with plenty of questions on offense and left with even more.
Senior D’Marko Brown rotated with sophomore C.J. Pearce under center, and the duo had a mixed outing.
Nash Central’s biggest gain of the night came on a misdirection shovel pass, which isn’t a telling sign.
Neither Brown or Pearce stole the show, leaving the impression that the Bulldogs will play multiple quarterbacks this season.
The Knights want to be physical, and that was clear on Thursday.
In a goal-line situation, the team lined up in it’s “Diesel” package and found the end zone on three straight plays.
Junior Quan Whitaker, sophomore Clashawn Baker and senior Travon Clarke form what could be one of the top backfields in the Twin Counties this season.
Andrew Ivins can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org