On Wednesday evening, the Rockingham Middle School football team will welcome the Eagles of East Hoke Middle School to Raider Stadium at Richmond Senior High School for the Southeastern Middle School Athletic Conference (SEMSAC) championship game.
Since 2011, Scotland County middle schools, primarily Carver Middle School, has dominated the Southeastern Middle School Athletic Conference in football. In fact, the last time that a Scotland County middle school did not appear in a conference championship game was in 2011 with Carver winning eight titles since 2012 and Spring Hill nabbing a title for Scotland County in 2021.
The last two non-Scotland County teams to win a title are Wednesday evening’s participants. East Hoke defeated Anson Middle in 2015 to claim one of two titles awarded that year (the conference was split that season). Rockingham went 7-0 the year prior claiming the 2014 conference title with a 36-16 victory over Carver.
This season, East Hoke (5-0) and Rockingham (6-0) have faced three common opponents. On Oct. 18, East Hoke stunned the SEMSAC with a 14-0 victory over Carver which, due to the two-division format that the conference uses, pretty much dethroned Carver with two weeks left to play. The following Wednesday, Rockingham defeated Carver 12-0 on its home field.
Other common opponents were Hamlet Middle and Spring Hill Middle. East Hoke defeated Hamlet 33-6, while Rockingham defeated the Red Rams 44-0. The Rockets won on the road at Spring Hill 32-0 while East Hoke slipped past the Spartans 15-14.
Rockingham Middle started its 2023 campaign on the road in South Carolina when it faced the Blenheim Middle School of Discovery at Marlboro County High School.
After a scoreless first half, the Rockets outscored Blenheim 20-16, snapping a 10-game Blenheim winning streak and ending a 2-game losing skid to Blenheim. Blenheim finished out the rest of its season undefeated enroute to its second straight conference title after defeating rival McColl Middle on October 26 at Marlboro County High School.
Since its opener across the border, the Rockets have shutout every SEMSAC opponent they have met, outscoring them 160-0. During that run, the stingy Rockingham defense has forced eleven turnovers (6 fumbles and 5 interceptions), have recorded over 30 tackles for loss and have rarely allowed anyone to pass midfield.
Highlighting the Rockingham defense has been eighth grader Jaden Wall. Wall has been a terror for quarterbacks, keeping receivers covered and picking off a trio of passes, all of which set Rockingham up in enemy territory. Ty Covington and Kobe Rush added an interception as well. Cam Coley and Jake Gardner have both recorded sacks and each have tallied a fumble recovery.
In middle school, you often see one or two players running the show, even on the most successful teams. For the Rockingham offense, it has been a team effort with nine different Rockets reaching paydirt in SEMSAC games this season.
CJ Covington has led the way with eight touchdowns (five rushing and three receiving). He also added a special teams score with a punt return. Ty Covington had five rushing scores, Coley ran for two touchdowns, and Wall, TJ Watkins, Joe Gilbert and seventh grade quarterback Damarion Allen each added a rushing score.
Along with CJ Covington’s three touchdown receptions, Cam Everette and Kerick Hairston each hauled in a pass for a score. All five touchdowns passes came from Allen.
“This season has been a very exciting one and it’s been fun to watch these kids have fun on the field,” said Rockingham head coach Zach Freeman. “I can’t thank my coaching staff enough for all the hard work they have done to make this season a success. I would like to thank Rock Middle and the community of Rockingham for their continued support of this program and it’s about time for the Rockets to bring this championship home!”
The Rockets ask that everyone come out to support them at Raider Stadium on Wednesday evening. Kickoff will be at 6 p.m.