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Chargers look to improve on 6-6 campaign

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Ayden-Grifton football players work out in the gym before practice Monday, June 11, 2018.


By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Chargers of Ayden-Grifton High School began their summer football workouts Monday morning, beginning their quest to capture an Eastern Carolina 2-A Conference title. 

Beginning with a series of aerobic conditioning and weight lifting, head coach Paul Cornwell got one of his first looks at the 2018 Chargers.

“This team is already working hard. The first day (of workouts), there’s always some excitement and then the reality hits you that it’s really work about halfway through,” Cornwell said.

The Chargers finished with a 6-6 record in 2017, 3-3 in league play, placing them in the dead center of the Eastern Carolina 2-A Conference. The team was off to a .500 start at 2-2, including a big win against Farmville Central, 21-7, on Sept. 8, before heading into two games as part of the Touchdowns Against Cancer series. The Chargers won both of their games, 24-14 against North Pitt and 63-0 against South Lenoir, pushing their record to 4-2.

They then continued win streak with a road win against Washington, 39-34, but after increasing their record to 6-2 following a close win against Kinston, 27-26, the Chargers dropped their last three regular season games, exiting the state playoffs in the first round after a 42-3 loss to Wallace-Rose Hill.

The team lost 13 seniors to graduation, but returns several of its key starters, including quarterback Blake Mclawhorn. The passer stayed busy over the offseason, being named the champion at the University of North Carolina’s Elite QB challenge camp last weekend. 

“(The award) says a lot about his work ethic,” Cornwell said of his quarterback. “Blake is steady and he works hard. I think one of the things was that he was the most consistent thrower. There were bigger quarterbacks, there with bigger arms and higher-profile guys, but he was the most consistent, and he scored points in every competition and came away with the trophy. We are very proud of him,” 

As a senior and the leader of the offense, Mclawhorn is expected to step up and help lead the team, but he also places emphasis on the entire senior class, showing the atmosphere of one team and one family. 

“You've got Ray Darden who will be returning at linebacker and running the ball some, Mclawhorn at quarterback and Zamar Hatch is someone who has worked really hard in the off-season and put himself in a position to have a good year,” Cornwell said, also mentioning Aaron Pasour as someone he expects to see becoming a true leader of the Chargers.

The departure of seniors from the class of 2018 has left new openings for talent called up from a Chargers’ junior varsity team that went 8-2 (6-0) last season. Cornwell is excited to see how these new players adjust to playing true varsity ball, along with what impact they will make on the team. 

“They are just a good group of kids, not just good ballplayers, but good kids, and that’s always fun to coach,” Cornwell said.

As for any changes to scheme offensively or defensively, Cornwell said that the offense and defense morph every year to conform to team personnel. The core for the Chargers’ playbook, however, will remain the same this season. 

Cornwell’s expectations for the team are to go out each week and improve upon the skills they have learned throughout the offseason and in each game. 

“We always have high expectations. If you don't then you are setting yourself up for failure,” the coach said. “Our expectation is to go out and get better every week, and then we get to be competitive in conference play and work to win a conference championship and then go from there. Then we go to the playoffs and see what happens.”

The Chargers will begin the 2018 campaign on Aug. 17 against Southside (Chocowinity) High School, the beginning of a four-game homestand to begin the season which also includes a showdown with Farmville Central on Sept. 7.

Following a two-game road trip with games against North Pitt and South Lenoir Sept. 14 and 28, respectively, they host Washington, followed by a trip to play Kinston on Oct. 12. The Chargers round out their schedule with home games against North Lenoir on Oct. 19 and West Craven the following week. They finish their schedule with a road test at Greene Central on Nov. 2.

Contact Jake Keator at jkeator@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

High Schools

December 08, 2018

Farmville Central’s boys’ basketball team defeated Greene Central for the second time this season, winning 72-64 in Snow Hill on Friday night.

The Jaguars (6-0) were led by a sensational performance by Terquavion Smith, who finished with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. Justin…


December 07, 2018

Pitt County East Carolina football recruits Jeremy Lewis of South Central and CJ Johnson of D.H. Conley doubled down on their commitments following the arrival of new head coach Mike Houston this week.

Attempts to reach Farmville Central’s Keziah Everett for comment were unsuccessful.



December 06, 2018

This time, Farmville Central wasted little time exerting its will.

The Jaguars started fast and never looked back in an 87-44 win over North Lenoir Wednesday. One day after needing a late run to defeat Ayden-Grifton 91-78, Farmville Central (5-0) led for all but the first 1:20 of the contest.


120518-FC basketball

December 06, 2018

South Central boys basketball took down Greene Central once again Wednesday night, earning an 80-41 victory. 

It was the second meeting of the young season for these two teams, with the Falcons also taking the win on the road, 92-61 on Nov. 27. 

The Falcons were once again led by North…


December 06, 2018

It’s not uncommon for students at John Paul II Catholic High School to congratulate 6-foot-4 junior guard Jordan Yarrell on a great performance. The leader of the Saints is a true utility player, working on becoming even more of a leader of the small squad. Athletic Director Sean Murphy…

120618-Jordan Yarrell

December 05, 2018

Farmville Central’s boys basketball team won the first round of its series with rival Ayden-Grifton Tuesday night, 91-78 in Littlefield. 

The Jaguars were led by their backcourt duo of Terquavion Smith (24 points) and Justin Wright (23 points). Dyquavis Wilkins also had a strong outing,…


December 01, 2018

The Farmville Central Jaguars maintained their perfect record and netted Larry Williford’s 300th-career win in the process after defeating Greene Central, 65-45, on Friday night in high school basketball action. 

The Jags were led by their dynamic backcourt duo of Terquavion Smith and…


December 01, 2018

State high school athletic officials gave South Central and D.H. Conley a choice after a fight broke out after a football game on Nov. 1: Miss the state playoffs altogether or accept sanctions that included player suspensions, a ban of individual Conley students and a ban of South Central’s…


November 30, 2018

PRINCETON - Riverside High School’s football team made school history Friday night.

The Knights turned two late defensive stands into touchdowns by the offense and defeated Princeton 56-46 in the second round of the Class 1-AA state playoffs.

Riverside is advancing to the third round of the…

November 29, 2018

After a stellar 24-1 senior season at D.H. Conley, Ayden native Kori Adams joined the Wingate University volleyball squad. Now, once again a senior, Adams and the Bulldogs have advanced to the Elite-8, the highest level of competition for Division II volleyball. When all is said and done, Adams…

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