No Beamon, no problem

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 11, 2003

TARBORO – For the first time in four seasons, Gates County High School stepped onto a football field without Marvin Beamon.

Beamon, the first player in the history of a Roanoke-Chowan area high school to rush for 1,000-plus yards in four consecutive seasons, is now enrolled at Newport News Apprentice School. His departure leaves GCHS skipper Clark Harrell and his Red Barons with some mighty big shoes to fill.

However, rising senior Justin Powell is back and his experience shone brightly here Saturday where he led the Red Barons with 108 rushing yards and three touchdowns as Gates County took part in a seven-team scrimmage at Tarboro High School.

Powell (1,591 rushing yards and 11 TD’s) ranked second behind Beamon last season in the offensive stats for R-C area players.

&uot;Jet (Powell’s nickname) got a workout on Saturday,&uot; said Harrell. &uot;We really didn’t have it scripted for him to carry the ball as much as he did (20 attempts during the regular portion of the scrimmage), but when Fabian (Hobbs) twisted his ankle early in the scrimmage, we didn’t have much choice.&uot;

Hobbs, who saw some varsity action last season, had three carries for 41 yards, including a 34-yard blast up the middle, before limping to the sideline.

&uot;It’s minor,&uot; noted Harrell in reference to Hobbs’ injury. &uot;He kept begging me to go back in, but with a wet field I chose not to chance him aggravating his ankle even more. We’ve still got a long ways to go. He’ll see his fair share of the action.&uot;

It was players such as Hobbs that coach Harrell wanted to gauge how they would react when it came to strapping on the shoulder pads against another team.

&uot;We’re a young team, so I needed to know some things before we hit the field on Friday (Aug. 15) against Manteo in our season opener,&uot; stressed the coach. &uot;Would we hang in there or would we chicken out. I certainly didn’t see any feathers on my players on the trip back home.&uot;

Harrell also got to see the likes of running backs Eric Riddick (3 carries for 12 yards) and Brandon Riddick (4-11) in action. In addition, returning quarterback A.J. Newsome did a good job of pulling the trigger on Harrell’s &uot;Wing-T&uot; offense. He completed 2-of-4 passes for 29 yards – a 17-yarder to David Hall and a 12-yarder to William Watson.

&uot;There were a couple of times when our receivers broke off the pattern,&uot; stated Harrell. &uot;If they would have kept on going, the ball would have been right there.&uot;

The coach noted there was plenty of work that lie ahead for his young troops.

&uot;We need to work on our timing,&uot; he said. &uot;It wasn’t very sharp in the scrimmage, but that’s to be expected this early in the season. I was also disappointed in our offensive linemen; they didn’t stay on their blocks, but that too is a thing we’ll get better and better on with repetition.&uot;

All in all, Harrell was satisfied with his club’s intensity at the scrimmage.

&uot;We battled hard against schools much larger than little old Gates County,&uot; closed the coach. &uot;I liked the way we handled ourselves.&uot;

The scrimmage also included Roanoke Rapids, SouthWest Edgecombe, Nash Central, Edenton, Wilson Beddingfield and host Tarboro.

Gates County hosts Manteo at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in the season opener for both clubs.