ROCKINGHAM — Two players from Richmond County will be heading to the Washington, D.C. area today to participate in a youth football national tournament.
Rockingham Middle School’s Robert David II and Luke Hoggard are members of the Eastern North Carolina team which will battle an all-star squad out of Maryland in the opening round of the Football University National Championship. David and Hoggard will wear their Rockingham Rocket helmets during the competition.
“It feels great,” David said about being selected for the team.
His teammate echoed his sentiment.
“It’s always fun getting to learn from this experience,” Hoggard said. “It’s a little expensive, but worth it.”
Besides David and Hoggard, the squad consists of players across the region, including Moore and Scotland counties. A tryout was held in the middle of October when the majority of the team was selected. David will be playing on the defensive line, while Hoggard will see time at tight end and linebacker.
“All of us are really aggressive on defense,” David said. “We are flying around the football.”
While David is at his natural position, the same can’t be said for Hoggard, who started at quarterback for Rockingham this fall. Hoggard said this is the first time he has played those positions, but believes it has been a simple transition.
To prepare for the national tournament, the team went to Knoxville, Tenn. earlier last month and went 1-1, beating a squad from Indianapolis and losing to a Chicago-based team.
The FBU National Championship kicks off today at 16 venues across the country in a single-elimination tournament. The winners of today’s contests will return to the gridiron Sunday. The remaining 16 teams will then continue to a regional site next weekend to determine the final four squads. The national semifinals and championship will be held Jan. 5 to 6 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
If the Eastern North Carolina team defeats Maryland, it would take on the winner of the Northern Virginia and Central Virginia contest. If it were to go undefeated this weekend, then Eastern North Carolina will advance to Columbus, Ohio.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.