Rookie coach gets first win

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 18, 2003

AHOSKIE – Thanks to senior Reggie Wiggins, new Hertford County High School head varsity football coach Dealton Cotton had better than a 50-50 chance of winning his very first game here Friday night.

Wiggins returned two kicks for touchdowns and added a third score on a 10-yard run to highlight a 43-16 win by the Bears in coach Cotton’s debut.

&uot;I thought we played hard, but we made too many mistakes,&uot; said Cotton, the team’s former defensive coordinator, who took over as head coach upon coach Daryl Allen’s retirement.

Cotton continued, &uot;We’ve still got a lot of work to do if we expect to get better. We had some young guys to step up tonight, but, as a whole, we’ve got to keep improving.&uot;

It seemed that the Bears would gain an easy win for their new head coach, building a comfortable 24-3 lead just prior to the midway mark of the third quarter. However, that comfort turned to apprehension when Plymouth struck for a pair of quick touchdowns, both coming via the aerial route as quarterback Adam Hedgepeth fired touchdown passes to Joe Barnes (14 yards) and Nick Patrick (23 yards). Dustin Edwards added one of two PAT tries, aiding Plymouth in rallying to within 24-16 with 1:27 left in the third quarter.

However, Wiggins took the wind out of the Vikings sails when he returned the ensuing kickoff 87 yards to paydirt. The two-point conversion run failed, but the Bears were back in control, leading 30-16 with 71 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

The Bears sealed the win in the fourth quarter where senior defensive back Lorenzo Benthall picked off a Hedgepeth pass and returned his theft 40 yards for a touchdown. Brandon Long rounded out the scoring when he hauled in a 73-yard TD pass from La’Kendrick Lee with a shade over five minutes left in the game. Michael Burton tacked on the PAT kick.

Wiggins tallied the first touchdown in the Cotton era, returning a Plymouth punt 70 yards to paydirt at the 8:50 mark of the first quarter. Clay Thompson’s PAT kick failed, leaving the Bears with a 6-0 lead.

Later in the first quarter, LaMorris Everette capped a short, 48-yard drive with his 28-yard scamper to paydirt. The conversion run failed, but the Bears owned a 12-0 lead with 1:22 left in the opening quarter.

Wiggins staked the Bears to an 18-0 lead at the 9:22 mark of the second quarter where he capped a six-play, 54-yard drive with a 10-yard run. Thompson’s PAT kick failed.

After Edwards erased the goose eggs off Plymouth’s side of the scoreboard with his 31-yard field goal shortly before halftime, Qwenton Valentine staked HCHS to a 24-3 lead at the 8:11 mark of the third quarter with his four-yard touchdown run. The score was set-up by Jarius Ashe’s fumble recovery at Plymouth’s 18 yardline.

The Bears totaled 376 yards of offense (303 rushing and 73 through the air). Valentine (9 carries, 67 yards), Wiggins (7-64) and Benthall (11-64) were the leading rushers.

Plymouth finished with 155 total yards (84 on the ground and 71 passing). Roderick James led the Vikings with 104 rushing yards on 28 carries.

HCHS (1-0) will travel to Tarboro (0-1) this Friday for a 7:30 p.m. non-conference contest.