The lights of high school football glistening at Newton-Conover’s Gurley Stadium for the FCA Jamboree on Friday.
The Jamboree featured two games, including two Catawba County teams in action. St. Stephens took on North Lincoln in the opening game, followed by Newton-Conover taking on Hibriten.
Featured at the event were two 15-minute periods, two 10-minute periods and one 40-minute continuous scrimmage period between each of the two teams.
The four smaller periods allowed each school to have its junior varsity and varsity programs on one-half of the field each. Offense and defense for both squads rotated, playing once in each 10- and 15-minute period.
After these quick sessions, fans from both squads got an early glimpse at their school’s respective varsity teams in game-like situations.
The St. Stephens’ varsity squad had an impressive performance early in their scrimmage against North Lincoln.
The Indians’ Will Hefner made an interception during North Lincoln’s opening possession.
Just moments later, Indians’ running back Jon Sweet broke free to the right side for a 25-yard score.
The Indians weren’t finished. Three minutes later, sophomore quarterback Ky’rawn Whitfield scrambled to the left side for a 35-yard score.
“I thought I could tell we were getting a little better,” said Indians’ coach Fred Whalen, whose team scrimmaged Wednesday against Crest. “We got to see North Lincoln in the summer during our team camp. We were a little familiar with them.”
St. Stephens earned two more turnovers in the game, including a fumble recovery and an interception by Kyle Fox.
“I think we picked up the intensity a little more this time,” Whalen said. “The first series we had on defense, we struggled a little bit. From that point on in game situation, our defense played lights out. I am tickled to death with the way we played.”
Newton-Conover started off strong in its scrimmage with Hibriten.
Two minutes into the 40-minute scrimmage, senior running back Jervasse Moss scrambled up the middle and past a few defenders for a 38-yard run.
Sophomore quarterback Kevin Cline also showed some promise for the young Red Devils, running for an 8-yard touchdown with 15:49 left in the scrimmage.
“I feel a lot better tonight than I did Wednesday night when we got on the bus,” said Red Devils’ coach Nick Bazzle, whose team had a practice and scrimmage with Shelby on Wednesday. “I had a lot of concerns. We just have so many young kids that we don’t know exactly how good we can be or how bad we can be. I was kind of a little bit down after that one on Wednesday. After tonight, I feel a lot better. I can sleep better tonight.”
After Hibriten finally broke on to the scoreboard, the Red Devils added a final score, this time on defense. Sam Avis returned a fumble 32 yards for the scrimmage’s final score.
“I am just proud of the effort,” Bazzle said. “That was the major difference. The execution was good, but the effort was what made the difference. We played hard, and we had fun. For these young kids, you have to keep it fun or they won’ t be back out here. I’m pleased with what went on.”