‘Football starts today’ | Sampson Independent
The 2022 football season is here with an intensity matched only by the weather. Rain poured down as coaches made what amounted to their opening statements for the impending season at the annual Friday afternoon Coaches Luncheon, held just hours before the Pigskin Jamboree of Sampson County Friday night.
The new coach on the scene is Kyle Stevens representing the Midway Raiders. Returning to the program this year alone, he has a hill to climb. He praised the program given to him. “I am very happy to take over at Midway. It’s a big community. Everyone kissed me. I inherited a solid staff.
The attack won’t change much. QB Casey Culbreth, HB Trey Gregory, WRs Hunter Tyndall and Cameron Cousar were a few players he mentioned who will be the driving force behind the offense. He said the biggest strength is in his senior team. He expects them to be able to beat everyone they face and he’s optimistic about the future of the program.
Coach Cory Johnson returns to the leader of the Dark Horses. “I have extremely high expectations for the team this year. We went 8-3 last year starting 12 freshmen and sophomores and took second place in the conference.
They are currently running a two-QB setup until one wins the role. The Dark Horses will see their entire WR body return and he plans to lead the spread offense. The Horses expect to execute power, block and zone defense. He praised Onias and Josiah Robinson and mentioned their 500-yard season was saves. Returning seven of their 12 defensive cores, the Horses’ defense will always hold firm. The Dark Horses took a few hits last year for lack of experience, but Jphnson said he remains confident this year will be an improvement. He is proud of his boys for maintaining their grades and going to college.
Hobbton Wildcats coach Joe Salas wants to continue to develop the sport of football.
“Anyone who has ever played football has been touched in the ear,” Salas said. “Sometimes the grass is nice and soft and other times not.” His point was trying to instill a tough player mentality. “You can either stay on the grass and wait for the staff and parents to help you off the field, or you can get your tail up and keep fighting.”
He points out that his team has adopted a TPW – “Tough People Win” mentality.
“That’s football,” he said.
Salas thanked his coaching staff and praised his defense, saying it was the best defense he had.
Lakewood Leopards coach Barrett Sloan says the team will be looking to get back on their feet after losing key players in last year’s promising season. Although it wasn’t what they expected, they persevered and took second place in the conference, a feat that would be difficult even with a healthy team. The Leopards have eight returns on offense and seven returns on defense.
“We had a 4-2-5 defense last year. You know you need two studs to make this work – well, when you lose those studs it’s hard to get it to work, but we got it right.
He let it be known that depth would be their issue, but remained optimistic saying: “Hopefully everyone goes 9-1 and stays healthy.”
The Union Spartans, led by coach Douglas Burley, is a relaunched program this year. The Spartans will have a unique set of challenges as they didn’t play last year, making their comeback even sweeter for the people of Rose Hill as their boys in red and black return under those Friday night lights.
Burley kept his comments short and sweet, saying, “We’re going to play some smashing football.”
The Dark Horses return hungry for more as they come back from a humiliating conference loss. The Wildcats and Raiders are hoping to deliver another one-game knockout of last year’s thrilling four-hour shootout at Dunn. They’ll be ready for the season opener and the Wildcats will be looking to avenge last year’s loss to their historic rival. Lakewood is looking to improve on last year and show off his skills while staying healthy despite his lack of depth.
County Athletic Director James Lewis concluded the lunch with powerful words and reminded everyone to keep this in perspective.
“Enjoy today,” Lewis said. “Enjoy every training because it goes fast. A healthy reminder that this is a game, but where we can learn and grow together – football 2022 starts today.
Join sportswriter Anthony McConnaughey at [email protected]