Substitutes play well in victory

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Just about everything that could go wrong before a football game did go wrong for West Brunswick coach Jimmy Fletcher on Friday.

Hours before his team was to leave Shallotte to travel to Tabor City to play South Columbus in the final game of the regular season—and with playoff seedings at stake—Fletcher was scrambling to fill gaps in his offensive line.

Three starters on the five-man front were unable to play because of illness or injury.

Somehow, Fletcher and his staff pieced together an offensive line that enabled the Trojans to beat the Stallions 28-6.

The scrambling began early Friday morning.

Fletcher said he learned that his starting senior center, Mark Harman (6-foot 3, 275 pounds), would be unable to play because of an illness.

“He went to the doctor (Friday),” Fletcher said, “and he said there was no way he could play tonight. So my first-team center was out, my second-team center was (already) out, and my third-team center was (already) out. “So today, third period, I get (quarterback) Quan (Bates) out of class and Jamyan (Johnson) out of class, and we (discuss being) a center.”

Johnson is a 5-foot-10, 265-pound senior.

“I said, ‘Jamyan, you gotta do it.’ And he said. ‘I’ll do it.’”

And against the Stallions, Johnson played almost flawlessly.

“We had one bobbled snap,” Fletcher said. “It was a great job by him tonight.”

Of course, with Johnson out of position at center, that affected other positions on the line.

“We had to pull up a JV kid to play guard, Billy Bopst,” Fletcher said. “Billy played really well tonight.

Bopst is a 5-foot-10, 250-pound sophomore.

“I pulled him in third period, and I said, ‘Billy, you’re going to have to play tonight, son. So get it in your mind to get ready to play.’ He said, ‘OK.’”

Bopst was eligible to play all four quarters.

“So it worked out really well,” Fletcher said.

For the playoffs on Friday, Fletcher thinks his offensive line will be intact.

“Hopefully,” he said, “we will have Harman back and we can move Jamyan back to guard. And we’re hoping that Darius (James) will be cleared Monday.”

Fletcher shakes his head when recalling how the Trojans won a football game without three starting offensive linemen.

“Dylan Bowman (6-4, 236) had to step in at tackle,” he said. “He had never played tackle. Billy Bopst was our guard. He had never played guard. Jamyan Johnson was our center. He had never played center.”

At least Fletcher had regular starters senior Will McKeithan (5-11, 236) and junior James Johnson (6-0, 246), along with freshman John Shipman (5-10, 225), to block against the Stallions.

“That’s why I ran right all night long,” he said. “It was just one of those nights.”

MICHAEL PAUL is the sports editor at the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or at sports@brunswickbeacon.com.