HS Football Notebook
In less than one week, pads will start crackling under the heat of the summer sun as high school football practice begins for the 2023 season in Robeson County and beyond.
The hard work in team workouts throughout the spring and summer will soon give way to the equally hard work of game preparation and, ultimately, the competition of Friday nights.
This is the most exciting time of year for every high school football team, no matter how good or bad last season may have been.
Players and coaches from Fairmont, Lumberton and Red Springs recently spoke to The Robesonian at the Southeastern Media Day, held at Lumberton in anticipation of the upcoming season; they all talked about what they’re excited about, what their goals are, lessons learned from last season and what games they’re looking forward to the most.
What are you most excited about for the upcoming season?
Dennis McFatten, Lumberton head coach: “Seeing how our work over the summer made us into a better team. We just got done with team camp and that brought us closer together, got our bonding a little bit stronger. But I’m most excited about being able to display our work over the summer, during the spring, and actually be able to play somebody other than ourselves.”
Tim Ray, Red Springs head coach: “Really just getting back out there, and all the work we put in this offseason, just getting out there and putting it out there on the field. You work all year just to play a couple of games. We’re really just working to capitalize and maximize all those games when we get a chance to compete.”
Christian Britt, Lumberton, Jr., OL: “I’m most excited to see our growth as a team, and just to see what we’ve been working on; we’ve just been working.”
Scottie Locklear, Red Springs, Sr., QB: “We’re ready to win some games, after these last two years we’ve been on a drought.”
Tim Hammonds, Red Springs, Sr., OL/DL: “This is a big year for us, Coach Ray’s second year being the coach. He’s taught us a lot and we’re ready to show what he’s taught us.”
Jasiah McRae, Red Springs, Sr., CB: “Having a better season this year. Coming back off of injury.”
Jakelsin Mack, Red Springs, Jr., RB/LB: “I think just coming in with more confidence and leadership, I feel like we can execute the right way this season and do the right thing.”
Dontrel Hughlon, Fairmont, Sr., OL/DL: “I just can’t wait to play under the Friday night lights.”
Jamarion Brown, Fairmont, Fr., QB: “Being the starting quarterback. I want to play quarterback, and I’m ready to start.”
Tyrek Thompson, Fairmont, Sr., WR/DB: “Just to go out there with all the seniors and go out there one last time, all together for one last year.”
What are some of your goals for this season?
McFatten: “(Team motto) ‘build the ship’ was based around us working no matter the adversity. We’re going to work; we’re always looking out for each other, no matter the situation. We’re going to take everything one day at a time, one game at a time. The goal is just pretty much just keep on fighting, don’t quit.”
Ray: “One of our main things we say is win today, so that’s what we try to work on with a winner mentality each day, and winning games will follow doing the right things day by day. Of course we want to win games, we want to make the playoffs, but the main thing is just doing the right things day by day and just doing it the right way. Everything else will fall in place from there.”
Jeremy Carthen, Fairmont head coach: “Our goal is to look in the mirror and be better than that man from yesterday. If we can do that, we’ll be successful.”
Travon Moore, Lumberton, Sr., QB: “To change the culture — win games, change the culture, and build a foundation for the kids that’s coming up.”
Deric Fulmore, Lumberton, Jr., LB/HB: “Get a touchdown, get a pick.”
Hammonds: “Definitely playoffs. We can’t promise no wins, this or that, but we can promise 100% on the field every Friday night.”
Mack: “Just staying focused; that was our biggest problem (last year), so our big goal is staying focused. Going from game to game, we would lose our mind, no matter how good or bad we did, we would lose track.”
Hughlon: “The goal is to win game by game, week by week. Coach instills discipline in us.”
Demarcus Grissett, Fairmont, Sr., QB/RB/LB: “We just want to do better than last year, set a name up for ourselves. We don’t want to look how we looked the last two years.”
What did you learn from last season?
Carthen: “I hope they learned that they have to put the work in in the springtime and the summertime to be successful in the fall. That’s the hardest thing right now is to get the guys committed.”
Jacoby Pevia, Lumberton, Sr., RB: “Not to give up when things get tough.”
Britt: “You’ve really got to focus when it comes down to it, because at the end we always give up; we’ve got to push through.”
Moore: “That winning comes in the offseason; you’ve got to put in work in the offseason to get what you want.”
Reggie Bush, Lumberton, So., WR/S: “Listen to the coaches, work hard and get better every day.”
Hammonds: “Be prepared for the worst — we had some guys get taken down from injuries, and we just need to be prepared because anything can happen. And we learned from last year, Coach Ray knows what he’s talking about, so listen to him and we’re going to be good.”
Justice McMillan, Red Springs, Sr., WR: “We have a lot of talent on the team, but we just didn’t know how to all use it because we’d never played together before. Now we’ve had the time to (collaborate) and work together.”
Grissett: “We’ve got to come together and be more of a team, take each other into consideration, and just go hard.”
Jalil Brown, Fairmont, Sr., RB/LB: “To trust my teammates more and to be a better player on the field, and be patient as the play goes.”
Thompson: “We need to start bonding before the season so when the season comes we’re already on one page. And take advantage of all the opportunities we’ve got — if we’ve got an opportunity to beat a certain team, take advantage of that.”
Sidney McKeithan, Fairmont WR/DB coach: “When our back’s against the wall, stay together, become a unit, and find our way out of that corner.”
Which game are you looking forward to the most?
Ray: “Every one of them. We want to go out and be the best Red Springs against each team, and we want to go out there and put our best 11 on each side of the ball and get the best results we can get.”
Carthen: “I don’t think it’s a game, I think it’s more of a practice — we’re looking forward to July 31 and competing against ourselves, not another game. However, there is one game that I’m excited about, and that’s playing against St. Pauls — Mike Setzer, my mentor, just because I’ll get to see the guys from the other side that I’ve coached before and I’ll see the guys that I’m mentoring now to be better men as well, so I think that’ll be an exciting game for me.”
Pevia: “Purnell (Swett) — the rivalry game, and I ain’t beat them yet since I’ve been here so I want to do that.”
Moore: “Fairmont, Purnell (Swett) — every game to be honest.”
Fulmore: “Clinton, to play competition.”
Hammonds: “Lumberton High School picked us out for (senior night), nonconference, it’s going to be a good game.”
McRae: “St. Pauls — they’ve beaten us three years in a row, I can’t go out like that my senior year, can’t lose to them again.”
Mack: “Douglas Byrd, and then work on ourselves after that.”
Aiden Hunt, Fairmont, Sr., OL/DL: “All of them really; I don’t really have one team I’m ready to play against.”
Thompson: “Every team that beat us last year. I just want to win (those games).”