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McNeill contributing all over for Jaguars

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Farmville Central's Kam McNeill catches the ball during practice on Thursday. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)


The Daily Reflector

Friday, September 8, 2017

FARMVILLE — Last week’s game against Princeton was the first time Farmville Central senior Kam McNeill has ever started in the backfield.

Given how it went, it might be something Jaguars fans see more in the future.

McNeill, whose natural position is wide receiver, rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown in the team’s 41-12 win over the Bulldogs. He also caught a 23-yard touchdown pass in the win for the Jaguars, who are at home tonight against Ayden-Grifton.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound receiver has been a key contributor at in the pass game and cornerback for coach Scott Gardner’s club, but Gardner decided heading into last week’s game he wanted to do something to take better advantage of McNeill’s physical attributes.

“We wanted to get Kam more touches and we were talking about how to do that, and I said, ‘We’ll just put him in the backfield and hand it to him,’” Gardner said. “He can fly, he can run, he can do a lot of things. He’s a playmaker and you want to get your playmakers the ball, and that’s why he wound up in the backfield because we were trying to find more ways to get him the ball.”

McNeill rushed the ball six times for 38 yards in the Jaguars’ first two games of the year, but those came on sweeps from the receiver spot. Entering tonight’s game against the Chargers, his 173 yards rank second on the team behind running back Jeremiah Sutton (251 yards, four TDs).

When Gardner came to McNeill with the idea of giving him some carries out of the backfield, McNeill was thrilled and was not daunted by the idea of figuring out how to produce from a new spot on the field.

“It could be hard, but we’ve got some good linemen and the holes are easy to find,” he said. “Anybody who’s got an IQ could find that hole and hit it, so that’s what I did. I just ran hard.

“They can put me anywhere and I’ll make plays,” he added, smiling. “I’ll do anything to help my team.”

Here’s a look at tonight’s games:

Ayden-Grifton (1-2) at Farmville Central (2-1)

This is an all-Pitt County matchup that Ayden-Grifton has won seven of the last 10 years, including a 41-13 throttling of Farmville Central last year in Littlefield.

This year, the Chargers enter off a 58-6 drubbing at the hands of East Duplin while the Jaguars have put together consecutive lopsided wins, the latest being a 41-12 defeat of Princeton. FC’s skill players are more experienced than Ayden-Grifton’s, which could be an advantage in a game where both defenses are big and talented up front.

South Central (2-1) at North Pitt (1-2)

This battle of Pitt County foes has been a draw over the last four seasons, with the teams alternating wins over that time. History would seem to favor North Pitt, as the home team has won each of those meetings.

South Central was doomed by turnovers in a 28-26 loss last week at SouthWest Edgecombe, while North Pitt ran out of gas late in a 20-6 loss to Greene Central. The Panthers have the talent to land a couple of shots on the Falcons early, but the advantage likely lies in the depth of SC, which is averaging 420 yards of offense per game. Of that total, an average of 311 come on the ground.

East Wake (0-3) at D.H. Conley (2-1)

On paper, the story of this one is simple.

D.H. Conley has scored at least 49 points in each of its three games so far this season. East Wake, on the other hand, has scored 47 points total in three losses.

This is the second of three straight home games for the Vikings, who have won consecutive games after losing their season opener.

J.H. Rose (0-3) at Havelock (2-1)

There were a lot of stunned faces at Rose after letting a win slip away Monday night against Hunt. On a short week, now the Rampants have to travel to a Havelock team that has beaten JHR in consecutive seasons.

Rose’s defense will be tested against a Rams rushing attack that averages 257 yards per game on the ground. JHR’s offense, meanwhile, is still trying to find some production in the running game, having amassed an average of just 68.7 yards per game so far this season.

Contact Jordan Anders at janders@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 or follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.