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Climbing back up: Spartans hope to improve on last season

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SMITHFIELD — Smithfield-Selma High varsity football head coach Mike Parrish, beginning his third season, said his coaches are approaching practice as a unified front as the Spartans hope to improve on last season’s disappointing 1-10 record.

“We set short-term goals for the individual practices that will culminate in the achievement of the long-term goals for the season,” said Parrish. “The players are excited to see the offseason effort finally paying dividends on the field.”

Smithfield-Selma is staging its inaugural Muddy Water Jamboree on Wednesday evening. Participating in the event with the Spartans are North Johnston, Southern Nash, Goldsboro, North Lenoir, South Lenoir and Hobbton.

Parrish said the scrimmage pairings are determined by the teams’ classifications, best matchups in terms of competition and regular-season schedules.

He said the Spartans will benefit from this experience.

“They’re getting to see a lot of great competition,” said Parrish. “They’re also getting to see the community get excited about football.”

In the offseason, Smithfield-Selma made major assistant coaching changes. Scott Meserve, who was the head coach at North Johnston from 2011-13, is the new offensive coordinator and Cisco Payton, who previously has coached at Beddingfield and Greene Central, is in charge of the defense. 

Other new coaches are Craig Faircloth, offensive line; Gabe Brown, wide receivers; Brett Doyle, line; Albert Alston, linebackers, and David Lawhon, team scout.

Returning assistant coaches and staff are Mike Harper, defensive backs; Karen Sauls, administrative assistant and Katelyn Hales, athletic trainer. The team managers are D.J. Woodard, Deja McGill and Deja Raiford.

Most of the team is inexperienced this season.

The only returning Spartans with varsity playing experience are senior Malik Scott-McLarin and juniors Omarion Garrett, Quenton Judkins and Julian Brockington, who was the only sophomore to make the Johnstonian News All-County Team last season. The Spartans also have at center Connor Doyle, a senior transfer from Corinth-Holders.

The Spartans’ season opener is at home Friday, Aug. 23, versus the Seven Springs Spring Creek. The Gators, who went 1-10 last season, are coached by Daniel Robinson.