Optimistic was the word that best described North Lincoln, Lincolnton and West Lincoln after they participated in the final scrimmage of the football preseason.
The scrimmage was a jamboree that featured the aforementioned teams along with South Iredell.
Rebelsâ€™ head coach Butch Parker was somewhat shorthanded in the scrimmage due to fullback/linebacker Paul Chambers being unable to participate due to a fracture to his wrist.
The coach though said that one of his players filled in admirably in Chambersâ€™ absence.
â€œFirst of all, you have to give a lot of credit to Chase Harbinson, who stepped in there and played both sides of the ball. He hadnâ€™t gotten a bunch of reps, but he did a great job,â€ Parker said.
The host Rebels are running the I-Wing offense and Parker was relatively pleased with the results.
â€œI was pleased with our offense. Taylor (Woodie) did a good job running the option, but by no stretch of the imagination is it near perfection. We have a lot of work to do on it,â€ he said.
Woodie, the sophomore signal caller for the Rebels, threw three touchdown passes. On the receiving end of two of those passes was wideout Ben Poole. Heath Cole caught the other touchdown.
Another standout on offense for West Lincoln was senior tailback Will Tallent.
â€œHe showed some vintage Will runs, ran with power and quickness. I was extremely happy with Will Tallent,â€ Parker said.
Allowing the time for Woodie to pass and opening holes was the offensive line.
â€œIâ€™m really proud of those kids. Theyâ€™ve worked exceptionally hard under Mike Harrillâ€™s direction. Theyâ€™ve busted their butts and thatâ€™s a positive for us,â€ Parker said.
Parker was also pleased with the effort he received on defense, especially considering they had less than a week to prepare for South Iredellâ€™s unique single wing offense.
â€œI thought they (the kids) did real well. We tackled decently, but weâ€™re still not settled on defense,â€ he said.
The jamboree drew mixed reviews from Wolvesâ€™ head coach Scott Cloninger.
â€œI thought we came out against South (Iredell) and North to be honest and were as crisp as a brand new 100 dollar bill. Then we took a 45-minute break and let the Jayvees scrimmage and we werenâ€™t worth a plug nickel. We lost our focus and never mentally got it back after that,â€ he said.
The Wolvesâ€™ coach was happy with the effort he received from his offensive backfield, including junior quarterback Zack Gibson.
â€œDusty Friday, Jacquece (Reeves), Lance (Friday) and Darrell (Friday) all four ran well. The biggest improvement, Iâ€™ve seen in the years, since Iâ€™ve been here is we block downfield. We also caught the ball well,â€ Cloninger said.
He was also happy with the effort of his offensive line.
â€œWesley Winburn and Blair Ledford both did a good job blocking Defensively, weâ€™re so young and inexperienced itâ€™s going to take time,â€ Cloninger said.
Cloninger summed up his thoughts on his teamâ€™s scrimmage using an example.
â€œI was very pleased at times, but I was also very disappointed at times. Physically, this team can play but theyâ€™re going to have to be mentally prepared to play each and every game. Thatâ€™s something special players have,â€ he said.
The second-year Knights drew a lot of attention because many at the scrimmage were eager to see just how much theyâ€™ve improved.
Lonnie Custer, North Lincolnâ€™s head coach, said that everything started with his offensive line.
â€œThey did a great job protecting him (Trent Hopkins) and opening up holes. He played awesome and I thought Josh (McClain) and Brandon Mull ran the ball well,â€ he said.
Custer estimates that Hopkins threw four or five touchdowns passes. His main targets were Pablo Arguelles and Devin Borders.
An area that really stood out to Custer was the play of his linebacking corps.
â€œI thought the linebackers played much better. I thought they played really well. They would get there and then they would finish. Against Hopewell, they would get there and then sometimes wouldnâ€™t make the play,â€ he said.
Custer also was impressed with the other two Lincoln Co. teams that participated on Friday.
â€œI thought Lincolnton looked really good. They had really good team speed and executed well on both sides of the ball. West Lincoln did a great job of running their offense. The option is really hard to stop play in and play out.â€
The host coach Parker believed the event was a success.
â€œI was extremely excited and happy about it. We had a great crowdâ€”tremendous. The kids performed up to where we thought they would. It was a tough week on those kids and I thought they held up well.â€by John Mark Brooks