West Carteret football standout Jamarion Montford has been named Student-Athlete of the Week. (Zack Nally photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — The West Carteret football team’s long conference championship drought hasn’t gone unnoticed by the current group of players.

The Patriots haven’t captured a league title since their first year as a program in 1964.

“We talk about it a lot,” senior quarterback Jamarion Montford said. “We talked about it last year when we saw the conference teams were solidified (after realignment). That was our No. 1 goal, to win conference. Every practice, every week, we bring it up.”

The Morehead City squad went a long way toward earning its first conference crown in 57 years with a 2-0 week. West (5-2 overall) began on Monday, Oct. 11 with a 35-22 win over White Oak. Both teams entered that game with 1-0 records in the 3A Coastal Conference.

“I think that was one of my best games this year, especially against a good team like them,” Montford said. “Their secondary and overall defense was good.”

Montford went 10-for-21 for 152 yards with a touchdown and interception, and posted three tackles at defensive back.

He brought his team to within a point at 7-6 with a 6-yard scoring pass to Justice Dade’el after White Oak’s Aleni Mageo returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.

“After their first kick return, I knew we couldn’t make that many mistakes on offense because they were going to capitalize,” Montford said. “I just made sure to keep our drives alive and keep the ball on our side.”

He didn’t keep the ball on his side four days later in a 38-19 victory over Richlands. The Wildcats turned a first-quarter interception into an 89-yard touchdown return to close the gap to 14-12 in the first quarter.

“I don’t think that was one of my best games because of the turnovers I had, but my teammates and coaches kept telling me to look to the next play,” Montford said. “I’m one of the people who tell teammates to look to the next play, and I usually do a good job of that myself, but I was pretty hurt about that one.”

The Patriots struggled to get going against a Richlands team that entered the game with an 0-5 record.

“We were sluggish,” Montford said. “Everybody was pretty tired, even that day before the game. We were pretty beat up from the White Oak game, because they were a really physical team. It took a toll on us, to turn around and play again so soon.”

Despite that one hiccup, Montford again shined, running for three touchdowns and 120 yards on 10 carries, while also going 10-for-18 for 120 yards through the air.

He’ll be asked to deliver again this Friday with West hosting Swansboro. Each team enters the contest with a 3-0 league mark.

“This one will sort of solidify it right,” Montford said. “We’re both undefeated in conference, tied for first place. It will be nice to play on seven days rest.”

He’s been impressive in his first year under center, going 59-for-110 with eight touchdowns, four interceptions and 831 yards in six games – he missed the first one when he tested positive for COVID-19 – while adding six touchdowns and 409 yards on 65 carries. Montford played wide receiver on offense last season.

“I really like it,” he said of his switch to quarterback. “I feel like every week I learn something new and apply it to the next game. My dad said I should have switched when I was in Pop Warner, but I liked playing running back and receiver. It’s been really fun. I wish I would have played when I was younger.”

Montford is the son of former West quarterback Anthony Hester. He entered his senior year campaigning to transition to the position after scoring three touchdowns at receiver and two at running back as a junior.

“I joked with coach and told him I could be Lamar Jackson for him,” Montford said. “I could be a read-option quarterback, run around, throw some slants. Then when I was out there, he said I looked good, and he said I could try it.”

Standing 5-11 and weighing 165 pounds, Montford realizes his football future isn’t at quarterback, nor probably wide receiver. He’s also realistic about what level he’ll play at in college.

“For my height and weight, they want bigger receivers,” he said. “I think I would be good at corner. I’m looking at N.C. A&T, Wingate, Catawba, and I have a preferred walk-on spot at Fordham, so that’s an option. My dream school is N.C. State, but being realistic, I’m not built for that level.”

In addition to his stellar play on the field, his work in the classroom should also help on the recruiting front. He sports a 4.0 GPA.

“My parents make sure I get good grades,” he said. “No good grades, no sports. I feel like that helps me out in recruiting.”

He’s considering studying kinesiology, athletic training, engineering or film and video.

“I’m interested in all of them,” he said.

Here are a few of Montford’s favorite things, as well as his ideal groups with which to eat dinner and survive a zombie apocalypse, and the five items he would take with him on a deserted island:

Favorite Movie: “Rocky and Creed series.”

Favorite TV Show: “Undisputed.”

Favorite Cartoon: “Tom and Jerry.”

Favorite Band/Artist: Mission.

Favorite Song: “Generally Speaking 3” by Mission.

Favorite Book: “The Bible.”

Favorite Team: N.C. State Wolfpack.

Favorite Athlete: Antonio Brown.

Favorite Vacation: Snowboarding in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Favorite Hobby: Playing basketball.

Favorite Subject: Science.

Favorite Quote: “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you working for the Lord rather than for people.” – St. Paul.

Favorite Food: Shrimp.

Favorite Drink: Lemonade.

Favorite Restaurant: Deshaun’s in Georgia.

Favorite Season: Spring.

Favorite Sports Memory: “Last year when my dad bet me $300 that I wouldn’t get a pick-six against Havelock and I did.”

Favorite Teacher: Ms. Joanna Miller.

Favorite Sport: Football.

Favorite Pre-Game/Post-Game Ritual: Listening to music and sleeping.

Favorite Website/App: Twitter.

Favorite Follow on Social Media: Roc Carmichael.

Ideal Dinner Guest List: Jesus Christ, Bruce Lee, Denzel Washington, Chad” OchoCinco” Johnson and Muhammad Ali.

Ideal Group to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse: Justice Dade’el, Jarvis Miller, Josh Mason, Al Morris, Dylan McBride and coach Daniel Barrow.

Items For A Deserted Island: Water, knife, lighter, rope, and football.

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