Assessment will be the watchword tonight when a half dozen area high school football teams gather for the annual Tarboro Football Jamboree.
Joining host Tarboro in the preseason event will be the other two Edgecombe County teams – North Edgecombe and SouthWest Edgecombe – as well Edenton, Farmville and Greenville Rose.
“The key for us is we’ve got to get better,” Tarboro coach Jeff Craddock said. “This will give us a good feeler on where we are and what we need to work on.”
Slated for a 6 p.m. start, the Jamboree will feature each team in a set of three series of 10 offensive and 10 defensive plays.
There will also be three series each of down-and-distance plays, as well as the possible addition of goal-line work – which Craddock said will ultimately depend on how players are feeling physically.
For Craddock, the Jamboree presents an opportunity to assess personnel before the regular season kicks off next Friday.
“We’re looking to see who can make plays,” Craddock said. “We, as coaches, can tell them how to do something, but the players need to show us they understand what they’ve been taught and can do it.
“They may be good in practice against bags, but it is different against live opposition. You can learn a lot in a jamboree.”
For SouthWest Edgecombe coach Jonathan Cobb, who is beginning his second year at the helm, the Jamboree is “a measuring stick.”
While technically a practice, he said it is “an important practice” in that it gives coaches a chance to see exactly where their respective teams are.
“We get to go up against someone that is not our scout team,” Cobb said. “We’ll be going against other team’s No. 1s.”
Like Craddock, Cobb sees the Jamboree as a chance to assess personnel.
With penciled-in starters going against other team’s starters, that assessment for Cobb and staff will go much deeper than just the top 11 on each side of the ball.
“We’re not only checking to make sure our projected starters can handle their assignments, we’re also looking further down the depth chart for kids who are going to surprise us and play well during a game-like situation,” Cobb said.
One of the specifics Cobb and his coaches are looking for from the Jamboree is creating depth on the Cougars roster.
Based on the format, which allows coaches to huddle with teams before and after each play, another goal for the Cougars is the elimination of mistakes.
However, the ultimate goal is seeing how the team stacks up with the start of the season looming on the horizon.
“It’s an opportunity to measure ourselves against other talented football teams,” Cobb said. “It’s hard to see in practice how good you are going against your scout team.
“It’s a real good measuring stick.”