The Red Devils flew to the football with tenacity during Thursday’s inaugural Robeson County Jamboree at Purnell Swett High School, showcasing a revamped passion for defense.
Of the eight teams to participate, it looked as if the Red Devils had the most to prove on a humid evening at Big ‘Mo’ Stadium.
On the second play from scrimmage against Southern Lee, the red and black-clad Red Devils’ defensive line shoved its way into the backfield and forced a fumble. Players jumped up and high-fived each other, while Puryear showed his enthusiasm on the sideline with a grin and fist pump.
The momentum-changing play channeled a glimmer of hope – a far cry from last season’s disappointing 1-10 campaign.
“We got off the ball really well and played good at times,” Puryear said. “I just tell our guys to keep practicing because it’s going to work.”
The 45-minute scrimmage against the Cavaliers was personal for Puryear after he was let go by the school as its head football coach following last year’s winless season.
“We played about the way I expected us too,” Puryear said. “They (Southern Lee) know who we are now. Both teams made some good plays. I wanted to come out here tonight and play well against them.”
The Red Devils open at Union Pines next Friday.
“We have to be able to adjust to our opponent,” Puryear said. “Union Pines will give us a lot of different looks.”
Fairmont’s flashy offense
Defenses will keep have to keep their eye on Fairmont’s Demetrius Washington this fall. The Golden Tornado quarterback is Keith Wood’s dual-threat sensation and showed off his arm – and his legs – in the Jamboree opener against Purnell Swett.
Washington found Desmond Parker on a 6-yard touchdown pass for the scrimmage’s first score, hitting his receiver between the numbers on a sharp slant route.
Washington would later evade pressure and scamper 15 yards to the Swett 13, before the drive stalled on Fairmont’s eighth play.
Each team had multiple attempts from the 40-yard line to try and score. If a team didn’t reach the end zone in eight plays, the ball changed possession and so on.
“This type of offense gives me a chance to run and throw,” Washington said. “I think we have a chance to be real good with this setup. We want to get further than the second round.”
Alex Gilchrist made a push to become Fairmont’s starting running back after hauling in three passes for 15 yards. Gilchrist runs low to the ground and packs a serious punch before he goes down.
Needing an identity
Purnell Swett coach Mark Heil said his team must find an identity on offense and learn to block better for quarterback, Chase Armstrong, after the 6-foot-1 junior was sacked three times.
Armstrong threw a pair of touchdown passes during the 90-minute competition, hooking up with Caleb Jacobs on a 28-yard score and Quan Oxendine in the back of the end zone on a 15-yard tally.
It was a long day of football for the Rams after scrimmaging Seventy-First at home Thursday morning.
Swett’s starting tailback, Travon Clark, did not participate in the Jamboree due to an ankle injury. He is expected to practice next week.
The Rams host E.E. Smith in next Friday’s opener, while the Golden Tornadoes will face Gray’s Creek at home.