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Chargers aim to improve from 6-6 2017 campaign

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Ayden-Grifton players run drills during practice on August 1, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Friday, August 3, 2018

After ending their 2017 season in the dead center of the 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference, the Ayden-Grifton Chargers look to improve in 2018 with several key returning pieces.

On offense, senior quarterback Blake McLawhorn will continue under center. On defense, senior middle linebacker Ray Darden will terrorize opponents. Other names, such as running back Corey Crossen, will provide an air of experience for the Chargers. 

McLawhorn comes off an offseason in which he was crowned champion at a University of North Carolina passing camp in Chapel Hill. Cornwell cited McLawhorn’s consistency as the key to his success. With his passing camp title, fans may see an increase in throw attempts from McLawhorn this season. 

Darden makes his impact with strength and quickness in the middle of the field. As the leader of the defense, he will be critical to the success of the Chargers.

Others have also shown they are looking to make an immediate impact through hard work and grit.

“I think (RB/DB) Michael Webb is going to have a good season, we hope on both sides of the ball and in the return game,” Cornwell said. “He’s going to be a junior and got some playing time last year as a sophomore and had a good season. He’s had a really good offseason as well, so we’re looking forward to him doing some really big things this year.”

While notable players are returning and others are stepping up, the team is dealing with a shortage of depth on its roster. 

“We've worked hard, but the numbers are still a concern,” Cornwell said. “This group here has been working hard, and I think we’re ready to get started.”

The disappointment of a 6-6 regular season, followed by a first-round exit in the playoffs at the hands of Wallace-Rose Hill, 42-3, seems to have evaporated as the sense of a fresh start arrives. 

Experienced seniors and youthful sophomores and juniors will need to mesh for the Chargers to get off on the right foot Aug. 17 when Southside visits Ayden-Grifton. The Chargers’ 2017 season also began with a match-up with Southside, a game in which A-G lost 26-0.

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

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High Schools

November 16, 2018

Two weeks ago, D.H. Conley drove the field looking to upset eventual 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference champion South Central, and they lost by one point.

On Friday night, the Vikings pulled off a miracle to escape Southern Alamance and advance to the second round of the 3-AA state playoffs.

Up…

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November 16, 2018

Farmville Central head football coach Scott Gardner announced Friday that he has retired as the head coach of the Jaguars.

Gardner has spent 28 years in coaching, along with the majority of his life, in the Farmville community. 

“I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of years,…

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November 16, 2018

Ayden-Grifton will take on a familiar foe tonight in the first round of the 2-A East playoffs in Eastern Carolina Conference champion Kinston.

A-G head coach Paul Cornwell is all too familiar with postseason football, and he and his staff also have a good understanding as to how to better attack…

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November 16, 2018

South Central entered this season looking to continue its climb to the top. 

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November 15, 2018

Four members of the D.H. Conley softball program signed their letters of intent on Thursday to play at the college level. 

Madison Bowers, Lexi and Alexis Phillips and Lexi Vincent are all signed to play softball at next level.

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November 15, 2018

Nazir Monroe-Smith has seemingly done it all. A 1,000-yard rusher his junior year, Monroe-Smith has moved outside to become part of a threatening core of wide receivers in his final season. Preps beat writer Jake Keator spoke with Monroe-Smith about the Falcons’ undefeated season and how he…

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November 13, 2018

Pitt County high school football teams finished a perfect 4-0 in the final week of the regular season, while Greene Central almost pulled out an upset of 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference champion Kinston.

Ayden-Grifton (7-4, 4-2) put up another strong outing, shutting out South Lenoir on the road,…

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November 10, 2018

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association released its brackets Saturday afternoon informing teams of their paths to a state title. 

Ayden-Grifton saw a change in its seeding just before the brackets were finalized. A-G started the day as a 14-seed, scheduled to play South Granville.…

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November 10, 2018

The Greene Central Rams looked to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the season against undefeated Kinston, and nearly did. In the end, however, one key play ended any thought of knocking off the 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference leader.

Looking at a first-and-goal from the 10-yard line, it seemed…

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November 09, 2018

The final week of the high school football regular season is here as local teams, including D.H. Conley (7-3, 5-1), use to make up previously postponed contests during hurricane season. 

The Vikings received some good news Tuesday night, as they learned they will be allowed to continue on into…

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