Lee County Gets Ready For State 3AA Title Game
The Lee County Yellow Jackets will face defending Champion Weddington of Matthews, NC this Saturday night at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh at 7:00 PM. Monday was a busy day for Head Coach Steve Burdeau from a 8:30 Press Conference in Raleigh to finishing practice under the lights back at campus at 5:30. WFJA Sports attended the presser at Carter-Finley and below are some notes of interest for Lee County fans.
The Press Conference
Coaches, AD, Principles and Staff from the teams competing in all eight (8) championship games were in attendance. Former Lee County QB James Alverson (’04), Assistant Commissioner – Media Relations for the NCHSAA, handled the press conference and introduced all coaches and teams for the upcoming games. All information for media was disbursed and discussed. Media had the opportunity to interview coaches and WFJA took advantage of that to meet with Head Coach Andy Capone of Weddington during the interview time.
Capone and Weddington Ready For Lee County
The first words out of Coach Andy Capone’s mouth when asked about the Yellow Jackets was “Dez Evans is the real deal.” Capone spoke with great respect for the entire Lee defensive front and felt the matchup with his offensive line would be key in Saturday’s game. Weddington has 2 offensive lineman that started in last year’s championship game and plenty of offensive weapons to boot. The Weddington defense has been stellar all year and they are led by #42 Alex Mock, #33 Trey Alsbrooks, and #21 Joe Zovistoski. Capone sees two very good defenses but also commented on the playmakers on both sides of the ball that should keep this one interesting. Warrior running back Will Shipley has over 1800 yards on the season and was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in NC. Capone commented that Lee RB AJ Boulware was “as good as any we’ve seen” and felt AJ got stronger late in games.
Lee County is Visiting Team
All teams from the East are the Visitors in this year’s championships. The Lee County team will be on the side opposite Vaughn Towers and the Yellow Jackets will wear the road whites for the championship game. It is our hope, however, that there will be so many Yellow Jacket fans in attendance that it will appear that Lee County is the home team.
Visiting the Broadcast Booth
The Press Conference Monday included a tour of the Visitor’s Radio Booth high atop Vaughn Towers. It is a wonderful vantage point to see the entire field but is a long way from the field and looking straight down. Adding a few spotters with binoculars has already been handled and the technology of broadcasting from a college stadium will be easy to enjoy. Our booth is also just steps away from the Media food at Carter-Finley which is always good. Our challenges will be any interviews with coaches or players and getting them to the roof of Vaughn Towers.
When looking back at some pre-season notes, we were reminded that our biggest concern coming into the season was the Lee Secondary. Jayden Chalmers would be back for his senior year, but graduation losses left some holes that needed to be filled. The question was who would step up? That was answered early on as Chalmers, Jordan Batts, Jackson Lamb and Sincere Goldston settled in as regulars and the secondary continued to improve throughout the season. The Lee County secondary has 20 INTs on the season and have made big plays down the stretch. Jackson Lamb stole the show against Cleveland with 2 late INTs to seal the game and ended up with 4 picks on the season. Chalmers also had 4 INTs while Batts and Goldston had 3 each.
And This Kid Is, Like, Really A Freshman?
I was standing on the sideline in the scrimmage this August watching the Yellow Jackets scrimmage Richmond Co. I was anxious to watch Lee Linebacker #5 Larry Baldwin for several defensive series and see how he handled the Richmond blockers. On the 3rd defensive series Baldwin was out and #43 was set up at middle linebacker. I leaned over to Trainer Steve Womack and asked, “Who is 43?” “Oh, that’s the new freshman JoJo Jennings.” A 6’1” 220 lb freshman that’s making tackles against Richmond Co? JoJo Jennings has been a starter from the get-go as a freshman on one of the best defensive teams in the state. With Larry Baldwin sitting out last week with injury, Jennings passed Baldwin and now leads the team with 101 tackles on the season with 11 tackles for loss. That’s right – more tackles that Baldwin (96), Dez Evans (76), Deandre Dingle-Prince (92), Delmaz Jennings (69) and Derran McKoy (66). Jennings has been fun to watch and now the freshman will be starting in a state championship final. Let’s hope the entire defense is a big factor this Saturday night.
A Leader AND a Winner
Colin Johnson just keeps on winning. The Lee County senior QB is now 38-2 as a starter heading into Saturday night’s game with Weddington. Lee County was 12-1 in 2017, 11-1 last year and now sit at 15-0 entering the championship game. Lee County is 15-0 in Tri-County 3A play since 2017 with 3 Championships. This season has been consistently good for Johnson with 63% passing for over 2200 yards, 29 TDs and only 2 INTs. Johnson is also nearing 500 yards rushing – and it has been some of his timely runs – that have been huge in the Jacket playoff run. The Lee QB has been good all year with decisions and the QB play for both teams has been the least talked about factor so far. While Lee RB AJ Boulware and Weddington RB Will Shipley have received a lot of attention from the media along with both defenses, it may be the play of Johnson and Warrior QB Dante Casciola that ends up being the difference on Saturday night.