Thursday, August 22, 2013
By JEREMY TIMMERMAN
In the third quarter of Friday’s Aiken County Football Jamboree at South Aiken, one team was a perennial state playoff contender and the other a program looking to get things back on track with a new coach.
North Augusta established which team it was in a 21-0 win over Aiken.
The Jackets struck first despite a solid push by the Hornets, who stifled North Augusta’s running attack on the quarter’s opening possession. A personal foul gave the Jackets the ball at midfield, and junior quarterback Trib Reece found Jaleel Bryant for a 50-yard touchdown pass that the Hornets got a hand on.
“Well it’s important for us to come out,” said Aiken head coach Brian Neal of the toughness his defense showed early. “That ball gets over our head, after at least one person touched it, maybe two get a finger on it, and they catch it. … I was excited about some things we did, especially against the run early on.”
North Augusta head coach Dan Pippin wasn’t thrilled with his team’s execution in the win, particularly within his position group.
“On defense I thought we executed well, but, I, as the offensive line coach, have to do a better job at getting my guys prepared to play all the time,” Pippin said.
The Jacket defense held strong for much of the period, limiting the Hornets to 21 yards of offense in the 18 minutes of play. That resulted in the North Augusta offense getting its chances to score, and the first-team group capitalized.
Reece completed all six passes he attempted for 107 yards and three touchdowns – all in the first 10 minutes of the frame. Willie McCloud, one of the first-team running backs, carried the ball four times for 40 yards to help with the jump start.
That quick lead allowed the Jackets to get some second-team players some reps and valuable experience.
“I think that’s real important,” Pippin said of the chance to play younger guys. “You never know – I mean, hopefully they don’t have to all go in collectively at one time – but I feel like it was good, though.”
Aiken varsity football newcomer Dramel Coleman, a standout for the Hornets’ basketball team, was the team’s leading rusher with 10 yards on five carries.
Even though Neal and the Hornets were left with little to be happy with statistically, the first-year Aiken coach wasn’t down on his team.
The Hornets were missing several players, including top rusher Nakeem Spann, and, like Pippin, Neal was grateful for the opportunity to get younger players in a game situation.
He was pleased with the effort the team showed, and he reminded his charges that progress in a new system like his triple-option offense will often take time.
“I told them, ‘I’ve been a part of five or six state championship teams, and I think, out of those six, we won two jamborees over those six years,’” he said. “That part of it’s not important, what the scoreboard says. It’s a matter of us getting effort and us getting a chance to see people who don’t normally get a chance to play a lot.”
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.