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Different coaches, different agendas for jamborees

For Bobby Carroll, tonight's as much about a chance to hang out with his son.

For Strait Herron, he wants to make sure his communications equipment is working.

John Devine, on the other hand, wants to make sure his players understand him properly.

Such are the challenges for three of the area's coaches in their first appearances with their new schools.

Carroll's York Cougars will face Gaffney in the second half of tonight's jamboree at York, while Herron and South Pointe will face Clover and new coach Devine in the opener.

Carroll said he was excited on many levels for his first game outside Rock Hill (he was a fixture at Northwestern before taking over at South Pointe and starting that program), but notable was his first chance to coach his son, York quarterback Spencer Carroll.

The elder Carroll joked that when they're at home, they often try to leave the football on the side.

"We try to be a normal family, ... but that's pretty much impossible," the coach said. "We're always talking about a game or a practice or a player or a coach when we're together.

"We don't get much of a chance to smile about it, but it is a special thing."

After they leave each other at practice, Bobby said Spencer's often shuttling teammates to and fro, before disappearing. "He's off hanging out with his friends or playing video games or whatever he's doing," Bobby Carroll said.

But tonight represents more than a reunion, as Carroll embarks on a new adventure.

While he said he's grateful for the chance South Pointe gave him, he's been floored by the reception he's received at York, where regional ties are put aside the way they are in Rock Hill.

"One of the things that's really special here, is that we're kind of a one-horse town," Carroll said. "It's a totally different atmosphere than Rock Hill. We had a scrimmage Tuesday night, and there might have been as many people in the stands as some of the games I've coached in the past.

"The support here is incredible, and we're really grateful for that. It doesn't win you any games, but it is a morale boost when you're trying to build something like we are."

Carroll said he'll take a look at the early matchup, "but just for entertainment purposes," since the Cougars don't play Clover or South Pointe until later in the year. Of course, he has a pretty good insight into what the Stallions will look like, since he knows the players as well as he does Herron, who played and coached under him in the past.

Of course, Herron's simply making sure he's ready for the start of the regular season.

"I know fans, and players and others will look at a jamboree just like it's a game, since there's a winner and loser," Herron said. "I mean, I don't want to lose anything, but as a coach, I just look at this as another practice.

"We're going to treat it like a game, but the big thing is making sure we're ready for things when the games actually start, so we want to make sure the headsets work, and all the other things you don't want to have to worry about later."

Herron said the session against Clover will be difficult on several levels, beginning with the opponent. He referred to the Blue Eagles' triple-option attack as "probably the hardest offense there is to defend," though he admitted he'd do little in the way of game-planning against Clover.

He also cited the lack of outside work his team had gotten in, since a scrimmage against Blythewood was rained out and not rescheduled.

But mostly, he's looking at tonight as an opportunity to find some depth.

Offensive tackle Alex McCleod was lost to a broken ankle suffered in practice last week, and cornerback Buddy Byers was getting a shoulder examined Thursday, casting doubt over his ability to get back on the field soon.

"We know we have to work on our depth," Herron said. "We've got some guys hurt, so we have to try to get as many guys in the game as we can."

Devine said he was disappointed with the display his team showed in last week's scrimmage with Crest, despite a strong finish that saw them score late after creating a turnover. He's installing a brand-new scheme at Clover (where they've long run a version of the wing-T), but wants to make sure his players don't ignore the things that are basic to any style.

"We have to get better leverage on both sides of the ball," Devine said. "We have to attack the line of scrimmage, and fix those basic things. We've got to be more aggressive, more focused and more intense, and until we do, the results won't change."

Some degree of sloppiness has to be expected with a new coaching style, but Devine was clearly bothered by what he saw last week.

"Our mental approach wasn't good," he said. "We weren't prepared emotionally to play last week. If your motivation has to be external, I don't think that's the best thing for a player. If what I say or what I do makes that big a difference, that's not good.

"We did pick it up late and that's a good thing, but we have to be better from start to finish."

The new coaches convening at York won't be the only action in the area, as seven schools will gather at Chester High beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Great Falls, Lewisville and Westminster Catawba will go twice each, and Fairfield Central, Lancaster, Blythewood and Chester will play one segment. Chester's jamboree will also feature a ceremony honoring some of the school's past athletic greats, including Chris White, William Strong, Rodney Feaster, Ray Holsonback and Ann McClurkin.

Saturday night, Fort Mill will host six other schools, including Indian Land, Harding, Lancaster, Myers Park, Charlotte Country Day, and Nation Ford.