'They want it as bad as anybody': South seniors key in 2-0 start

By DONNELL COLEY
Sports editor
Posted 8/28/21

FOUR OAKS — It didn't take long to see who the more experienced team was during Friday's friendly rivalry between South Johnston and visiting Triton.

Trojans senior Brayden Barefoot …

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'They want it as bad as anybody': South seniors key in 2-0 start

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FOUR OAKS — It didn't take long to see who the more experienced team was during Friday's friendly rivalry between South Johnston and visiting Triton.

Trojans senior Brayden Barefoot interrupted a big play down field on the Hawks' opening drive, hustling from behind to cause a fumble and give his offense the ball.

A few minutes later, the two-way standout reaped the benefits of his hard work, taking a pitch around the right corner and into the end zone to score the game's first touchdown en route to a 33-20 home win. 

"All the guys, especially the seniors, they want it ... they want it as bad as anybody and I love them for that," Barefoot said after collecting over 200 total yards from scrimmage with a pair of touchdowns.

"And I want it bad. I've wanted it since I was a freshman ... and this is exciting." 

Barefoot led the Trojans (2-0) in both rushing and receiving, surpassing 100 yards on the ground and through the air. 

The contributions from his fellow upperclassmen helped them build a two-score lead at the half. 

Just before the end of the first period, senior quarterback Paul Olive found veteran wideout Jaydn McNeill on a 30-yard hookup down the left sideline that set up a 3-yard touchdown plunge up the middle from Jyseim Wells, giving the Trojans a 14-7 lead. 

Olive and McNeill connected again with four minutes to go until halftime, this time for an 8-yard score that extended the advantage to 21-7. 

Meanwhile, Triton (0-1) wasn't able to overcome early signs of rust, both mentally and physically, after coming off a quarantine period due to COVID-19 protocols.

The Hawks suffered two turnovers and gave up a special teams score.

"We just made mistakes that you're gonna make early on (in the season) and a team that's coached like they're coached, they're gonna take advantage of it," Triton coach Ben Penny said. 

"I'm just ready to get practice time in and I'm ready to continue through this schedule. Hopefully, we can stay healthy – and I'm ready for the real Triton football team to show up, because they got it inside of them."

Sophomore running back Camuri McDougald was a bright spot, leading the Hawks with 64 yards rushing and a first-quarter touchdown. 

South coach Lee Webb held the game ball while fielding questions, honoring his first home win as head man. Downing a nearby foe that he wasn't able to beat as a Trojan in his playing days was a point of emphasis for his upperclassmen this week. 

"We told the seniors ... when they finish this game, they need to have no regrets," Webb said.

Defensive end Braxton Ennis was among those Trojans that heeded the inspirational words, notching a sack with 5:40 left in the third quarter to pin the Hawks against their goal line on fourth down. The ensuing punt took an awkward backspin and was eventually scooped up by South's Lance Parker in the end zone to put the Trojans ahead 26-14.

The game-breaking play swung momentum after Triton had taken advantage of a special teams miscue from South on the opening kickoff of the second half. Malik McNeill's 5-yard touchdown made it a one-possession contest, 20-14, which Webb had expected from years of partaking in the rivalry.  

"Coach Penny always does a great job with his team and we always expect it to come down to the last minute," Webb said.

"It was a tough game and they fought hard ... I'm proud of our guys." 

Behind Parker's special teams score, the Trojans' defense hung tough for the next few minutes as both teams were held off the board. 

But it was Barefoot who put a final stamp on the victory, creatively maneuvering his way through defenders for a 52-yard rushing touchdown that made it 33-14 with 5:19 to go in the fourth.

South is scheduled to host Southern Lee on Thursday, Sept. 2, while Triton looks to gets its first win Friday, Sept. 3 at home against Sanderson. 

Lucas Layman had an interception for the Trojans in the win, while McDougald also finished with a pick in the Hawks' loss. 

Donnell Coley can be reached at dcoley@mydailyrecord.com or 910-230-2040.

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