By Jacob Hancock
The Daily Record of Dunn
FOUR OAKS — Hungry and eager.
That’s how South Johnston head football coach Matt Riggsbee described his team prior to last Wednesday’s practice.
South Johnston players hadn’t even stepped on the field since their practice on Sept. 11. They’ve had two games canceled due to the damage caused by Hurricane Florence — Sept. 14 at Western Harnett, last week at home against Union Pines. So when the Trojans gathered around for their pre-practice huddle, there was a noticeable jolt in their step.
“I think the kids need it, especially the ones without power,” Riggsbee said. “It’s a good chance for us to get back in the routine, practicing the way we do things, getting back to the basics and polishing up the fundamentals of the game.”
South Johnston got off to a solid 3-1 start before the storm. Riggsbee said that while he’s a little concerned about the lull in action disrupting his team’s rhythm, he sees it as a good opportunity for his players to get some needed rest.
“It actually kind of ended up being a blessing in disguise for our team’s health,” Riggsbee said. “We’ve had some guys that were a little banged up, so it’s good that they’ve had time to recover and come back fresh.”
The Trojans are slated to make up their road game against Western Harnett this Friday. Riggsbee hopes the week and a half of preparation will have his team looking sharp against the Eagles.
While South Johnston was lucky enough to practice last week, Hurricane Florence shut out other area football teams including Triton, Harnett Central, Western Harnett, Overhills, Midway and Hobbton.
Ideally, they’ll all return to action this week. Triton will make the half-hour trip to Anderson Creek to face Overhills in a local head-to-head matchup. Midway will travel to face Wallace-Rose Hill, the four-time defending state champ. Harnett Central and Hobbton will stay at home and face Lee County and Smithfield-Selma respectively.
Riggsbee thinks the return to normalcy for local football will be good for the community.
“We’re ready to get back to doing what we love and what we work so hard at,” Riggsbee said. “Hopefully, the community can look at their hard work and resiliency and get behind them in this time of need for everyone.”