High school football: Jubilant Jamboree for Raiders

Published 12:01 am Sunday, August 14, 2022

By Mike London


LANDIS — As the host school, the pressure was on South Rowan for Friday’s fourth annual Rowan County Jamboree.

Ten teams. Five scrimmages. Ramped up security measures. People everywhere.

South head coach Chris Walsh didn’t sleep much leading up to the event, because a lot can go wrong, but it was best-case scenario for the Raiders and their supporters.

Mother Nature turned out to be a South fan. Tolerable temperatures replaced the suffocating heat of some jamborees, while friendly skies overruled the lightning bolts that had plagued two of the previous events.

“We got really lucky with the weather,” Walsh said. “The only problem I kept hearing about was they had run out of places to park. There were a ton of people here.”

Running out of parking isn’t the worst problem you can have, especially at $7 a head.

South topped off its night to shine by winning the final scrimmage. After a back-and-forth first half against Lake Norman Charter, South’s defense pitched a second-half shutout while the Raiders’s offense was scoring two more TDs. South prevailed 28-12.

Both of South’s varsity QBs, returning starter Jamie Klassette and Brooks Overcash, who is coming back from a broken leg, scored touchdowns. So did running backs Landon Richards and Trae Rucker.

“We still had a few jitters on Friday, but we got rid of most of them Wednesday when we scrimmaged A.L. Brown,” Walsh said. “We hung with Brown and competed hard against them, and that really helped us tonight. We got everything we could have hoped for out of both scrimmages this week.”

Walsh has spent a lot of time reading up on the historic A.L. Brown-South Rowan rivalry that was shuttered a few years ago, and he understands how important that game could be as far as rejuvenating South’s program. There was a time when that game couldn’t have been any bigger or created more interest in southern Rowan.

South-A.L. Brown could return to the schedule in the near future. The schools are 6.5 miles apart, so renewing that rivalry makes more sense for the schools and the fans than driving to schools such as Parkland and Sun Valley. Fuel prices aren’t pretty.

It wasn’t a surprise, but in a 28-7 win against West Stanly, Salisbury earned rave reviews for a team with so many new starters and a new head coach (Clayton Trivett).

Mike Geter threw a touchdown pass to Deuce Walker, who ran past quite a few people. JyMikaah Wells and Jamal Rule rushed for scores. D.J. Adams recovered a fumble for a touchdown. Defensive TDs have been common occurrences for the Hornets in recent seasons, and that’s likely to continue.

North Rowan, coached by Nygel Pearson, came out on top 14-0 against Carson (and new head coach Jonathan Lowe) in the only Rowan vs. Rowan matchup. North’s preseason focus on defense appears to be paying off, and the Cavaliers got rushing TDs from running back Jaemias Morrow and quarterback Jeremiah Alford.

West Rowan, with almost all new skill people, was on the short end of a 24-0 final against A.L. Brown.

“Fumbled at the goal line early and were never able to overcome it,” West head coach Louis Kraft said. “We’ve got to get stronger mentally. Humble pie for us.”

East Rowan didn’t have a great night against Central Davidson, which is where Trivett was head coach last season.

“Had no idea what Central Davidson was going to do, and we did struggle a bit,” East head coach John Fitz said. “But we’ll be fine.”

Now teams have film to study and can get ready for Friday’s openers.

East Rowan tangles with North on opening night, while West takes on Salisbury. Both of those highly anticipated county match-ups were erased last season by COVID issues.

Carson will take on a Statesville team that is in some preseason top 10 rankings.

South, which beat Parkland at home on opening night for its only win in 2021, makes the trip to Winston-Salem this time.

“Parkland had a lot of freshmen last season, so they’ll be better, but hopefully, we’re better, too,” Walsh said. “The mood here now couldn’t be more positive.”

South players are taking the field this season with “JL” on the back of their helmets in memory of Raider super-fan and long-time supporter Joe Littlejohn.

Tristian Littlejohn, one of Joe’s grandsons, is expected to play on the jayvee team, but the Raiders moved him up to the varsity for the Jamboree.

“It was emotional and it was awesome,” Walsh said.