Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
SMITHFIELD — With a host of competitive teams headed to Smithfield just before the season begins, the Smithfield-Selma High football program hopes to boost local excitement for the sport’s return through the first football jamboree hosted by the school.
On Wednesday, Aug. 14, the Spartans will welcome 16 teams for the inaugural Muddy Water Classic at Charles Tucker Stadium a little more than a week before the first game of the season.
“I’m very excited,” third-year SSS head coach Michael Parrish said. “It’s going to be huge just to get people back excited about football, especially in our community.”
After winning one game in each of the last two years, which is an improvement to back-to-back 0-11 seasons in the two seasons before he took over, Parrish said he wanted the program to see strong competition on its home turf leading into 2019, when he expects the team to be more competitive.
After talking with other area coaches he knew, the cast of competition assembled for the first-ever event encompasses programs from 1-A to the 4-A ranks.
This year, those teams will be: North Johnston and North Pitt from the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference; Southern Wayne; Goldsboro; Southern Nash; Enloe; Holly Springs; Hobbton; North Lenoir; Fayetteville Cape Fear; Panther Creek; Spring Creek; Cary Green Hope; Raleigh Leesville Road; Fuquay-Varina and Southeast Guilford.
“It’s going to be a big deal for us,” Parrish said. “My guys will get to see some elite teams and what it looks like to be that good.”
Every team that has agreed to participate is guaranteed three 30-minute, half-field scrimmages, but some programs will play four due to uneven numbers. During that allotted time, each team will have free rein to run as many plays as possible to give plenty of reps to both sides of the ball.
At the end of those scrimmages, the night will be capped off with two marquee matchups — Cape Fear versus Holly Springs and Southern Nash against Southeast Guilford.
“Those four teams have a legit shot at going to states this year,” Parrish said.
More than anything, Parrish hopes the event brings back a sense of community at the Smithfield football stadium.
“I’m trying to get football back here,” he said.
The cost for admission to the event, which is sponsored by Zaxby’s and includes a food truck rodeo, will be $5. Attendees are urged to bring their own chair, as some play will take place in the stadium, while most of it be at the baseball, soccer and practice football fields on the school’s campus. The gates will open at 4 p.m. for fans, with competition running from 5-8 p.m.