Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
PINETOPS — The SouthWest Edgecombe High football community, with the opening week of August practice reaching its midpoint, can rest easier with recent, welcomed news.
Seventh-year head coach Jonathan Cobb reported Monday evening that star wide receiver and heralded basketball prospect Keishon Porter will play football his senior year with the Cougars.
Porter is entertaining numerous NCAA Division I basketball offers, but is also receiving Division I football recruiting attention.
“It seemed like everybody in the world was telling him not to play football,” Cobb said, “but his response was that ‘if I don’t play football, I will be letting my teammates and school down.’
“We are excited for him to be a part of us. He is working his butt off. You can throw him a wounded duck or whatever, and he will catch it. Amazing! His role was central last year and I’m sure it will be this year.”
Now, a top preseason Cougars preseason priority is settling upon a quarterback to throw to Porter.
The candidates are rising juniors Ray Wooten and Jackson Lewis. Wooten started at cornerback for the varsity last year but was the junior varsity quarterback who threw to Porter his sophomore season. Lewis quarterbacked the 2018 jayvees to their fourth consecutive Eastern Plains Conference championship.
“They are both tall (approximately 6 feet) for SouthWest quarterback standards,” Cobb divulged with a grin, “and both have pretty good skill sets. They have different strengths.”
The Cougars, some 40 strong in the varsity camp and with 46 jayvee candidates, went back to work under threatening skies Monday evening. They were equipped in shoulder pads and helmets and begin contact drills Wednesday.
Getting plenty of attention is improving the decision-making of the quarterback candidates. The major loss from last year’s championship team was quarterback Jayden Lewis.
“We are ahead of the curve offensively,” Cobb declared. “We have a lot of experience up front. Offensively, we feel like we are ready to go. Defensively, we have a lot of inexperience. We have to work right hard on defensive technique and fundamentals.
“We’ve had two really good practices. The kids have done an outstanding job.”
The only newcomers are 26 freshmen. Cobb said three workouts weekly during the summer attracted an average of 50 candidates and focused on strength and conditioning.
Cobb’s staff from last year returns, and he has added Larry Jones, who coached for his father, Raymond Cobb, at SouthWest; plus three young volunteers.
SouthWest practices will last three hours the first two weeks, 2 1/2 weeks until school resumes and two hours from that point.
The Cougars host Washington in their first scrimmage at 10 a.m. Saturday and join Tarboro, Greenville Rose, Havelock and five or six more teams in the Tarboro Jamboree on Aug. 16.
SouthWest kicks off the regular season on Thursday, Aug. 29, at home against North Edgecombe. Most schools will be opening play on Aug. 23, but Cobb explained he preferred opposing Corinth Holders the seventh week over visiting Pasquotank the opening week.
“We like the extra week,” Cobb said. “On the other hand, you never really like the idea of teams out there playing a game and getting a game’s advantage on you. But we are playing the hand we were dealt.”