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Humphries, ECC champs ready for a new season

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South Central players run and offensive drill at practice Thursday.

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By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The reigning champions of the 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference, the South Central Falcons, were back at work Thursday morning for the first official day of fall sports practices.

There was a mix of nerves, excitement and calmness.

"There is a little sense of urgency (for the players) on that first day," coach Andy Tew said. "We tell them that the clock has started because we want to scrimmage in nine days. You can see their excitement for the first day, but for us coaches, it's just another day at the office."

This year's roster does not feature several prominent names from a year ago, such as now-East Carolina tight end Jeremy Lewis or linebackers Christian Barnes and Myles White. Shutdown cornerback Markell Gibbs also was lost to graduation.

Quarterback Justin Humphries returns, however, and will play a key role in the SC offense.

Humphries entered starting duties last season during Week 2, after Caleb Woodley was sidelined with a medical condition. Humphries performed well until picking up a foot injury that ended his season as the team entered the state playoffs.

"He has been one of our leaders," Tew said of the 6-foot-2 senior QB. "He's been growing on what he did last year. He's been a vocal leader and has been showing everyone how to practice and making sure everyone is squared away. He's playing at a high level. He's just picking up where he left off last year."

Tew added that Humphries is receiving a large majority of snaps with supposed starters.

"We don't use ones (first team) and twos (second team/backups) in the summer because it doesn't mater, we try to keep them as even as possible," Tew said. "Justin has been in there getting a large amount of reps before we determine ones and twos."

Defensively, Tew did not point out any particular players who stood out through summer workouts, explaining that the growth of the players leaves determinations of who may earn larger roles this season up in the air.

"The biggest growth you're going to see in high school football is between their junior and senior year," the coach said. "We aren't even identifying names right now. We will see some guys who were juniors and role players last year come back and become key players as seniors. We do have some pleasant surprises, some guys who we hope we're going to be able to count on and some guys we didn't know we were going to be able to count on stepping up."

SC kicks off its newest campaign on Aug. 23 when hosting Greene Central. The two sides squared off to open the 2018 season, with the Falcons walking away with a tight victory, 18-14, in Snow Hill.

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

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