Matching up with state’s best

Published 10:57 am Friday, July 18, 2014

Terry Warren II of Franklin High School, left, and Chris Lawrence of Southampton High School, played together on the defensive side of the ball in the East vs. West All-Star Game. The players were also roommates for the week. -- SUBMITTED | DARREN PARKER

Terry Warren II of Franklin High School, left, and Chris Lawrence of Southampton High School, played together on the defensive side of the ball in the East vs. West All-Star Game. The players were also roommates for the week. — SUBMITTED | DARREN PARKER

LYNCHBURG—It was one of the best games they had ever played.

Terry Warren II and Chris Lawrence come from different schools, but they were on the same team this past Friday, holding their own against the best in the state at the Virginia High School Coaches Association All-Star Football Game at Liberty University Stadium.

“It was a great experience, being able to make plays in a game that big, and just being able to play ball one more time on the high school level before getting into college life,” said Warren, a Bronco linebacker from Franklin High School.

Lawrence, a Southampton High School Indian who played special teams and linebacker at the game, said, “It is one of the best experiences I have had in my life so far. It was one of the best games I’ve ever played in. It was just a well played, exciting game.”

And both Warren and Lawrence had big roles in the game. The defense of the East held the West’s running game to 122 yards, as the East went on to win 14-7.

But it did not come easy, as an offensive fumble gave the West the ball with a chance to tie it while time was dwindling down.

From the 40-yard-line, Warren rushed the quarterback, Northside’s Dominic Dunnaville, which caused the QB to overthrow his receiver, enabling Denbigh’s Patrick Prosser to get an interception and seal the victory.

“It felt pretty good,” said Warren about being part of the big play. “We’d been talking with the guys from the West all week about who was going to win. We really felt like we were going to win.”

Warren said the East didn’t score as much as they would have liked, but he’d still take the win.

“That’s the game,” said Warren, who will play for St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh in the fall. “You are not always going to get what you want, so we’ll take what we get. We kept the momentum and stayed up on them.”

All of the scoring was done in the first half, and the second half saw a lot of back-and-forth possessions as the West tried to get back in it. But the defense held the threat at bay.

“The level of competition was great,” said Lawrence, who will play football for North Carolina Wesleyan in the fall. “We were playing against guys who play at a high level. They are top caliber, and I felt I held my own against them.”

The players were also roommates for the week, as they reported on July 7 with practices. The rivalry was left at the door, for the most part.

“Even though we are from different schools, and there is a rivalry there, it was good,” said Lawrence. “I got to know him a little more. He’s a good guy and a good player.”

“It was pretty good to be able to room with him, even though he’s from a rival school,” said Warren with a laugh. “It was good to be able to create another friendship, going into the college life.”

On Sunday, they started out with a one-a-day practice, and then on Monday they started two-a-days.

“Waking up, practicing, then having your lunch break and going back to practice, that was new for me,” said Warren. “But I got through it and was able to show my talents.”

Practice was one of the best parts, though, as you got to meet other players.

“I met a lot of great guys,” said Lawrence. “You met guys from all around the state, different football players, some of them from places we played, and some of them from places I’d never heard of.”

“The practices were actually my favorite part, if you can believe it,” Warren said. “It was good, competing for positions, being able to build friendships out there, and learning from other coaches from across the state.”

Warren finished the game with 4 tackles, and Lawrence had 3.

“Chris performed very well,” said Southampton Head Coach Willie Gillus. “He just showed how much he has grown from high school to this point. He moved really well, and he was a lot stronger than he was during the season.”

Franklin Head Coach Darren Parker was also there to watch his student-athlete.

“Terry had a great game,” Parker said. “He represented the Franklin and Southampton area very well. And so did Chris Lawrence — I’m proud of him too.

“I was rooting for both of them, the Southampton and Franklin kids.”

Parker said he was proud of Warren.

“Three or four coaches came up to me after the game to say how much of a pleasure it was coaching him,” he said. “I said before that he is our 12th athlete to represent in this game, but every year, it’s almost like they are the first one for me. It is just exciting to see them perform.”

Their coaches were not the only ones present for the game, as they each had parents and community supporters.

“It was amazing,” said Warren’s mom, Cheryl Pinkney. “I saw him playing like I have never seen him play before, which is exciting. I think his talent is limitless.”

For Cyrus Lawrence, Chris’s dad, it brought back some memories.

“I played in the East vs. West All-Star game in 1979,” he said. “It was held in Richmond that year. Reliving those moments, being out on the field. Seeing all of those players in uniform, it turned the clock back a little.”

But it was even better to see his son out there.

“Chris has been very diligent with football. He’s worked very hard,” Cyrus Lawrence said. “It is taught that hard work does pay off, and it was good to see that in practice.

“I also felt like he represented Southampton very well.”

His mother, Marizic Lawrence, said it was an exciting game.

“I was happy to see him play,” she said. “Against all of the kids, he played nicely. We were happy to be there to support him.”

Lawrence also felt the support from his teammates.

“They would text me, or whatever way they had to reach me,” he said. “I really felt the love from them.”

Now it’s time to get ready for the next level.

“I leave on Aug. 3,” Warren said. “I am very excited, very very excited.”

His mom is also excited, but at the same time, it’s sad.

“It is a bittersweet moment,” Pinkney said. “Terry is the last of my children to graduate from high school, and leave and take on a new endeavor in life. But I am glad he gets to experience new things, coming this fall.

“As always, I will be just as supportive on the college level, as I was the high school level.”

Lawrence is ready, too, now more than ever.

“That game most definitely reassured me,” he said. “After that week was over, it lit the fire back up and made me more excited about college football.”