Falcons aim to put struggles in the past

Aug. 16, 2013 @ 06:14 PM

The Jordan Falcons sometimes felt like the 12th man for the opposing team a year ago.

“Some games, we just didn’t believe that we could win,” junior quarterback Matt Gampe said.
Jordan’s 2-9 record left the Falcons in the pit of the PAC-6 4-A, at the very bottom without a win in six league games.
It was LaDwaun Harrison’s first season as Jordan’s head man, and he said he didn’t want to be that guy who gets the seat in the big chair and makes wholesale changes.
“It was a challenging season,” Harrison said. “Last year, I kind of went in and didn’t change all of the things that needed to be changed because it was so much. This year, I’ve gotten all of my coaches on staff, and we’re settled and we kind of went in and said, ‘These are the things we need to get corrected.’”
Last year’s Falcons weren’t a particularly unified flock, but they’re flying together now, Harrison said.
“We let some games get away that we had a chance to win, but we were inexperienced and we were young and we never jelled as a team,” Harrison said. “I think this group here has already started to jell.
“Our seniors talk to our freshmen. We don’t have a lot of division. We’ve really been working on our unity and having the same common core of goals and beliefs.”
The wins came at home against Raleigh Enloe (20-0) in Game 2 and Cary Panther Creek (21-14) in Game 10. The Falcons came close in only one conference game, a 15-9 home loss to Roxboro Person, while being outscored 355-93 on the season.
A preseason workout session at Jordan included sports medicine staff from Duke stopping by to measure the athleticism of the team’s underclassmen. Jordan’s seniors didn’t have to be there, but they came and filled water bottles for the young guys, demonstrating what it means to be a team, Harrison said.
“We want to win our conference,” Harrison said.
The PAC-6 lost Southern to the newly formed Big Eight 3-A Conference. The Spartans finished second to PAC-6 champ Hillside for the third straight year last season, and Northern, the league’s No. 3 finisher each of the past three seasons, faces a massive rebuilding effort after losing some 20 seniors to graduation.
With Hillside again the football heavyweight of the conference, but Southern out and Northern down, Jordan conceivably could be a contender for a playoff berth. The league is guaranteed only three state playoff slots, down from four a year ago because of the loss of Southern.
To do it, the Falcons would need to edge out at least three other teams from a likely mix of Roxboro Person, Riverside, Northern and East Chapel Hill. It will be an uphill battle.
“We want to be mentioned with the Hillsides, the really good teams in the area,” Harrison said. “In order to do that, you’ve got to go out there and work.”
Gampe spent part of the summer in football camps, getting in helpful reps that should pay off this season when he’s under center, Harrison said.
“We’re just looking for him to make a step forward,” Harrison said.
Gampe (6-5, 200) has good size, and wide receiver Tyler Pittman (5-11, 165) is expected to be one of his top targets.
Before suffering a hamstring injury this summer, Pittman looked good in 7-on-7 workouts, Harrison said.
“Just getting open and running great routes,” Harrison said.