High school football coaches in the Jacksonville area whose teams are participating in Friday’s Marine Federal Credit Union Football Jamboree gathered at Jacksonville City Hall on Aug. 12 for the event’s official media day and to talk about the upcoming season.
The coaches were asked several questions directly as they appeared panel style alongside the coaches from the other three schools they will compete with during the same time session on Friday at Northside High School. Coaches from all 16 participating schools were present.
Jonathan Delle, Lejeune High School’s new head coach, was asked how the Devil Pups plan to go about breaking their 33-game losing streak.
“It’s just a matter of changing the dynamics and the kids’ outlook,” Delle said. “[We will] just keep pushing, pushing and pushing them, and just when they say, ‘I can’t’ we tell them ‘look, you’re going to, you’ve just got to change the whole mentality of it.’”
Coach Delle, a retired Marine who spent over 20 years in service, was also asked what makes military kids different.
“Military kids are more used to change, whether it’s offense or defense, the coaching staff or where they are living at the moment,” Delle said.
Lejeune will see Jones Senior in Friday’s scrimmage prior to facing them again in their regular season opener Aug. 23.
According to Jones Senior High School head coach Tyler Hale, the Trojans have just three returning starters. As a result, Hale says they will rely heavily on inexperienced players to make an impact this season.
White Oak High School head coach Jonathan Byrd is in his second season leading the Vikings, who will expect big things from running back Dereka Boone. Last season, the junior rushed for over 1,000 yards. Byrd, who admits he was tough on his guys last year to help change the program’s culture, plans on making sure the team has more fun this season.
Of the 31 players on Swansboro High School football team’s roster, 26 are seniors, but lots of seniors doesn’t quite mean loads of experience.
“We have a lot of leadership coming back, and we hope that it translates,” said Tim Laspada, Swansboro’s head coach. “A lot of those seniors did not play a lot last year, so it’s kind of misleading, but we hope for some good leadership from the kids we have.”
Attendees of Friday’s exhibition games will get a close up look at one of the state’s top college recruits in Northside’s Ja’Qurious Conley, a four-star talent and top-10 player in North Carolina, according to ESPN. Conley, who is getting recruited as a safety and overall athlete, is expected to make a college decision this month. North Carolina and South Carolina are two of the frontrunners hoping to sign Conley.
Last season, the Jacksonville Cardinals made the deepest playoff run of any area team by making it to the 3A state title game, but came up just short versus Charlotte Catholic 17-14. According to Head Coach Beau Williams, the Cardinals will put trust in their next-man up philosophy this fall.
“We have young guys that have been in the JV program that were backups last year, and they are ready for their turn,” Williams said. “We will see what they can do. It’s time.”
Gates for Friday’s MFCU Football Jamboree will open at 4:30 p.m. The first matchups begin at 5:30 p.m. and the final matchups will end around 10:25 p.m.
Lejeune takes on Jones Senior and Princeton from 6:45 p.m. to 7:55 p.m. All matchups will take place on Northside High School’s field, which will be split into two halves to accommodate two matchups at one time.
The MFCU Football Jamboree is hosted by the Jacksonville-Onslow Sports Commission. Admission is $7.
MFCU Football Jamboree Matchups
5:30 to 6:05 p.m. – Richlands vs. South Lenoir, Croatan vs. Jacksonville
6:05 to 6:40 p.m. – Richlands vs. Jacksonville, Croatan vs. South Lenoir
6:45 to 7:20 p.m. – Jones Senior vs. Lejeune, Princeton vs. E. Carteret
7:20 to 7:55 p.m. – Jones Senior vs. E. Carteret, Princeton vs. Lejeune
8:00 to 8:35 p.m. – Swansboro vs. Spring Creek, White Oak vs. CB Aycock
8:35 to 9:10 p.m. – Swansboro vs. CB Aycock, White Oak vs. Spring Creek
9:15 to 9:50 p.m. – Northside vs. Southwest, Kinston vs. Dixon
9:50 to 10:25 P.M. – Northside vs. Dixon, Kinston vs. Southwest