Backyard brawl set for Friday

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 29, 2003

AHOSKIE – Officially Friday is known as All Hallows’ Eve, but Hertford County High School skipper Dealton Cotton gave an interesting idea for what it should be called – the Backyard Brawl.

While some children will be dressing up and going trick-or-treating Friday, the varsity football teams of Bertie and Hertford County will be dressing for war as they do battle inside the Northeastern Coastal Conference.

And this annual get-together has become just about what Cotton called it – a backyard brawl.

&uot;In this game, it’s put up your dukes, hit each other in the mouth and play football,&uot; BHS football boss Roy Bond said.

And a few things are given in this rivalry – no matter whom you talk to.

First, records are a matter for another day.

Cotton suggested &uot;you can throw them out the door&uot; while his more senior counterpart in Bertie prefers to &uot;throw them out the window.

&uot;When Bertie and Hertford County play, records don’t mean a thing,&uot; Bond said. &uot;You always know that when we get together it is going to be a good game.&uot;

Cotton agreed wholeheartedly.

&uot;This is a rivalry that records never matter when you take the field,&uot; he said.

The second thing you can count on is that each team will come prepared to play.

&uot;I know they’ll come in here prepared,&uot; Cotton said. &uot;For us, we have a tall task. On that other sideline will be one of the greatest coaches in the history of North Carolina; a guy that has won two state championships.

&uot;I know they will be prepare for us,&uot; he added. &uot;I have a great respect for Coach Bond, his staff and the Bertie program.&uot;

The guy that Cotton gave all those accolades had a few of his own.

&uot;They’re a solid ball club,&uot; Bond said. &uot;They’re 9-1, state-ranked and Coach Cotton has them playing very well. We’ll definitely have to be on our A-game to beat them.&uot;

The third item you can place a bet on is that both teams will continue to do what got them to this point.

&uot;We’re not preparing for them any differently,&uot; Bond said. &uot;We have to do what we do and see what happens.

&uot;We’re beginning to jell as a team – and that’s what we have to be – a team,&uot; he added.

Meanwhile, Cotton said he would continue to rely on his team’s overall speed.

&uot;I think the same thing that we have relied on is we have pretty good speed,&uot; Cotton said. &uot;The amazing thing is, though, that in games like this it is often the guys you wouldn’t think of that will step up and make the difference.&uot;

Coming into Friday’s matchup, Hertford County is leading the Northeastern Coastal with a spotless 5-0 mark while Bertie comes in at 3-2 in the league. The Bears are already assured for the top seed from the NCC while Bertie will be the second-seeded 3-A team out of the conference.

Reggie Wiggins, Lorenzo Benthall and Qwenton Valentine have combined for slightly more than 2,000 yards rushing on the season.

Meanwhile, Quarterback Lakendrick Lee and wide receiver Brandon Long have combined for five touchdown passes, including a 57-yarder and a 44-yard bomb last week in a 14-0 defeat of Manteo.

On the other side, Jermaine Norfleet has led the Falcons with both his feet and his arm.

One unique element of Friday’s game will be the coaching timetable. While Cotton will be enjoying his first Bertie-HCHS game, Bond may be participating in his last one.

&uot;This may be it,&uot; Bond said. &uot;I’m going out in December as far as in the classroom and, although I haven’t decided for sure, I probably will retire from football too. It may be time to give someone else a chance.&uot;

While Cotton looks to get his first Bertie win, Bond will look to close out his career with a sixth consecutive win over the Bears.