A project that has been in talks for nearly a year finally came to fruition as a group of adults, ranging in age from 18 to over 50, kicked off the Rockingham County Grizzlies inaugural football season last weekend.

Unfortunately, the Grizzlies, a member of the Central Carolina Football League, were edged by the Salisbury Thundering Herd in the season opener by a score of 12-6 at the Smith Rivers Sports Complex in Martinsville, Virginia on Saturday.

In what turned out to be an old school version of smash-mouth football, after trailing 6-0 at halftime, Grizzlies quarterback LaVert Butchee (a former Reidsville player) threw a touchdown pass in the second half to tie the score. Unfortunately, he was later knocked out of game on a head-to-head shot, and the offense never could get anything going after that.

Comprised of a group of former players from all over the county, interim head coach Steve Williams, and a dedicated group of community supporters and organizers, answered the call that many former high school football players have been putting out over the years.

“We’ve been in talks for eight to nine months. A lot of the kids that played at Reidsville and Rockingham, and from all over the county and region really, have been talking to us about putting together a league. We’ve been looking to fill a void to try to keep young men out of trouble. Our number one goal is to help young men and to teach them discipline and how to work together. We want to be competitive, build a bond, and continue to get better,” he said.

Former Rams star Stevie Williams, the coach’s son, had a solid game on both sides of the ball, and fellow RHS alumnus Jazz Totten and Damien Lee were dominate on the defensive side of the ball.

Williams said that part of the current challenge in an up-start program is finding a permanent home to play the games.

“It’s very hard. Some people commit, then they back out. We are representing Rockingham County and it’s hard for us to get the high schools to come on board because they have a lot going on with their fields. Still, these are your former players trying to do something nice to for the county, so I think they should commit,” the coach said.

Williams, who was a four sport athlete at Anacostia High School in Washington, D.C. where he played football, basketball, wrestled and competed in track before relocating to Reidsville more than 25 years ago said he and his compatriots want to make this team something the players and community can be proud of.

“Most of them have been practicing all summer long at Lake Reidsville to make this happen, although it’s tough to get everyone together at one time. You’ll have maybe 15 or 20 that you can practice every day. Then you’ll have 20 to 25 that can only practice on certain days, so it’s tough to balance. It’s a good outlet and it’s also for someone who’s got that little itch to play and they still need to scratch — yes indeed. It’s to help the young and the old accomplish some of their dreams. For some fathers, it’s a chance to show their kids what they can do and establish a bond,” said the coach.

Williams said the team is planning a special presentation prior to kickoff at next Saturday’s game versus High Point, but hasn’t finalized details. The time and venue for next Saturday’s game versus the High Point Outsiders has yet to be determined. To learn more about the Rockingham County Grizzlies football team, check out their page on Facebook.

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Contact Jim Sands at 336-314-1058 or on Twitter @jimsandsRCN.

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