Bym: Bears bring local sports back into focus

Jonathan Bym Sports editor

			
				                                Jonathan Bym | The Robesonian
                                Robeson County Bears quarterback Braylan Grice, left, celebrates a touchdown pass to Bryan Carpenter during a 7-on-7 scrimmage on Sunday. The Bears semi-pro football team features several local products, including this pair of former Lumberton standouts.

Jonathan Bym | The Robesonian

Robeson County Bears quarterback Braylan Grice, left, celebrates a touchdown pass to Bryan Carpenter during a 7-on-7 scrimmage on Sunday. The Bears semi-pro football team features several local products, including this pair of former Lumberton standouts.

<p>Jonathan Bym | The Robesonian</p>
                                <p>Eric Graham returns an interception on Sunday’s 7-on-7 scrimmage for the Robeson County Bears.</p>

Jonathan Bym | The Robesonian

Eric Graham returns an interception on Sunday’s 7-on-7 scrimmage for the Robeson County Bears.

LUMBERTON — After more than 2 1/2 months away from live sports, the sight of seeing even a 7-on-7 scrimmage between two local semi-professional football teams was pleasing, even if it had no real meaning for those outside of the lines competing.

The Robeson County Bears are starting to get their footing locally with a larger than expected roster for a season that will hopefully come this fall, and Sunday at Godwin Heights Community Park, the team took a big step forward. The first step is always the hardest, but the Bears seem to be ahead of schedule.

Semi-pro teams have been attempted locally, even as recent as last year, but something is different about the Bears with solid guidance under coach Isaiah Baker, and a staff that are no strangers to the local semi-pro scene.

“We just came out and executed defensively. Offensive we’ve got to work,” Baker said. “We are shooting for the playoffs. We want to bring home a championship.”

Baker and many of the players on the team are local products looks to put on for their city and community once again, much like they did on the high school gridiron.

As for the X’s and O’s Sunday, the Bears showed they can be a strong defensive squad in the secondary with six interceptions in the scrimmage against the Fayetteville Ducks, an establish program. A program that was put on firm footing by many of the players and coaches for the Bears who spent time with the Ducks before venturing out to get a semi-pro team in Robeson County.

Flooded with local talent, the Bears showed resiliency on the offensive side of the ball after a slow start. Many of the players that have recently been highlighted locally that have been cast to the wayside with their sports career have found their football home back with a hometown team. For them, this is a chance to continue to play the sport they love in what might be their last chance to do so.

The scrimmage provided a chance for bonding an experience for the group that are rallying all for one cause that is getting better for the upcoming season.

“It was just getting the guys more friendly with each other,” Baker said. “There’s going to be a few more things we’ve got to do, but basically we are going to be all right. We are going to make Robeson County proud.”

Baker said that two or three more 7-on-7 scrimmages would be ideal over the summer months.

The dog days of summer, much like high school football, wears hard on the numbers of players working out with a team and that is what the Bears are about to embark on before the season starts in August. Keeping morale and energy high with the group should be key, but shouldn’t be a problem.

With the high numbers of participants, and optimism equally as high, the future looks promising for a semi-pro team to represent the area in a time when we welcome sports to return as a distraction from all the negatively that has encompassed our lives since March.

Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.