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High school squads prepare for annual Jamboree

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31st Annual BB&T Football Jamboree features three county teams

By Sam Hickman

 WILMINGTON - Three county high school football teams have waited an entire offseason for this night.

The 31st Annual BB&T Football Jamboree kicks off the 2017 high school football season Friday night at Legion Stadium in Wilmington.

West Brunswick squares off against New Hanover in the first scrimmage contest of the evening, while county foes North Brunswick and South Brunswick meet in the third tilt.

Gates open at 4:30 p.m. and the first scrimmage begins at 5:30 p.m.

In years past, a cheerleading showcase launches the festivities after the gates open at 4:30 p.m., but Jamboree officials changed the timing of the events this year.

Before the West Brunswick and New Hanover scrimmage game, the cheerleading squads from those two schools will perform. Following the scrimmage, the cheer teams from Ashley and South Columbus will take the field before those two schools play.

Following the North Brunswick and South Brunswick scrimmage, Hoggard squares off against Whiteville and the nightcap features Laney taking on defending 1A state champion Wallace-Rose Hill.

Each game consists of two 12-minute periods, which is the equivalent of one-half of a regular-season game.

The head coaches of all 10 participating schools gathered Tuesday, Aug. 8, at The Terraces in Wilmington for the BB&T Football Jamboree Press Luncheon.

West Brunswick head coach Kelly Williamson said he and his team were excited for the opportunity to compete in another Jamboree.

“We’re excited for the season,” he said. “We have some really good kids, some good players. There are some questions, but we’re about to find out a lot (about our team).”

The Trojans return seven starters on offense and eight on defense from a squad that finished the 2016 season 9-4. Last year, West advanced to the second round of the state playoffs.

North Brunswick is on the heels of a 7-5 campaign and enters its first year under the leadership of longtime high school football coach Darren Willis, who brings with him head coaching experience. Willis was the first head coach in the history of Trask High School in Pender County.

“Our kids have worked hard,” Willis said. “We’ve prepared for this moment. We’re excited to get out there Friday night.”

Rocky Lewis begins his second year as the head coach at South Brunswick. Lewis has several returning starters, including quarterback Mason Phillips. The Cougars will try to improve on their 1-10 record from a year ago.

Ten high school teams from across southeastern North Carolina participate in the Jamboree to kick off the school year and football season. Money raised from the event funds scholarships for local students to attend college and supports the general fund at each participating school. In the past 30 years, the event has raised $1,248,227.00 with 586 local students receiving scholarships.

Legion Stadium is located on Carolina Beach Road in Wilmington. Admission is $7 at the gate or tickets can be purchased in advance for $5 at BB&T branches in Whiteville, Wilmington, Wallace, Rose Hill, Shallotte, Southport, Tabor City and Leland.

Coolers, bags and umbrellas are not permitted at Legion Stadium or the Jamboree. Metal detectors will be used prior to admission. 

BB&T Football Jamboree Co-Chairman Andrew Cooke called the Jamboree “one of the most exciting high school events in southeastern North Carolina.”

“This annual event highlights the excitement and anticipation for a run at conference titles and state playoffs for the 10 area high schools,” he said.

Proceeds from last year’s event totaled $43,471.00, enough to fund 20 $1,000 scholarships (two per school). Additionally, each participating school received nearly $32,000 each for their general operating budgets.

The 2016 BB&T Football Jamboree scholarship recipients were Mikayla Capps and Alex Halkias (Hoggard), Olivia Miller and Taye Vereen (West Brunswick), Luke Herring and Tessie Thomas (South Columbus), Shane Nairn and Hannah King (Whiteville), Jalon Mott and Xavier Smith (Wallace-Rose Hill), Keyshawn Jenkins and Madison McNeill (South Brunswick), William Willis and Imeek Watkins (Laney), Patrick Burton and Sharyah Anderson (North Brunswick), Javeon Hall and Lamont Howard (New Hanover) and Lauryn Highsmith and Corey Whaley (Ashley).