Retirees share thoughts about ‘the game’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 29, 2003

AHOSKIE – Between them, they’ve walked the sidelines for more than 50 years and they’ve seen a little bit of everything.

That’s why The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Sports Department decided to see what Daryl Allen and Ron Cooke thought of Friday’s matchup between Allen’s beloved Bears and the passion of Cooke’s life – Falcon football.

&uot;Obviously, I’ll be pulling for the Hertford County Bears with all my heart,&uot; Allen said. &uot;We’ve done some real battles with Bertie in the past and I’m sure Friday will be another one.&uot;

Allen, who led the fortunes of the Bears’ program for more than 30 years before his retirement last year, reiterated the same thing current-day skippers Dealton Cotton and Roy Bond said. Records do not matter.

&uot;The records don’t matter in this game,&uot; he said. &uot;They’ve come in favored and we beat them and we’ve come in favored and they beat us.&uot;

Allen even had a case-in-point.

&uot;In ’81 we came in with one win and they had one loss and we won the game 14-12,&uot; he said. &uot;Everybody in Ahoskie was happy.&uot;

Cooke, who served as head coach of the Falcons from 1985-1987 and as an assistant for 20 additional years, echoed the same sentiments.

&uot;I’ve seen the time when they were good and we were bad and we beat them and I’ve seen it the other way around,&uot; Cooke said.

As far as Friday’s matchup, both veteran coaches think it should follow the pattern of the many games that has gone before it – it’s a tossup.

&uot;Well, I hope we have something to prove,&uot; Cooke said. &uot;We started the season with a bad record and have started to improve, but they have a chance to go undefeated in the conference, so they have something to play for too.&uot;

Allen, meanwhile, hopes the Bears will be looking to claim their first victory over the Falcons since 1997.

&uot;Hopefully, our guys are hungry,&uot; Allen said, &uot;since they haven’t beaten Bertie since 1997, they should be.&uot;

As far as strengths, Allen sees the Bears as solid at running back.

&uot;We have a lot of speed at the running back position, maybe the most we’ve ever had,&uot; Allen commented. &uot;Also, having three defensive backs who can run 4.5’s makes it hard to break long plays.&uot;

Cooke said Bertie’s strength comes in its diversity on offense.

&uot;I think the biggest strength is that they can go wide open and power you,&uot; he said. &uot;That is a good trait.

&uot;When they show you three or four wide and make you play the entire field, it is tough,&uot; he continued. &uot;Ideally, if you could play man-to-man, it would be fine, but that is hard to do.&uot;

The Bertie-Hertford County game is one that has grown in importance over the years, but was also significant in the old days.

&uot;It used to be Ahoskie and Edenton was the big game, but that has faded and become more Bertie and Hertford County,&uot; Allen said. &uot;Richard (Murray, retired Athletic Director) used to be good about scheduling those natural rivals late in the season which served to make them bigger.

&uot;With both these teams now being 3-A, this has become the bigger rivalry,&uot; he added.

Cooke said, while the rivalry may be stronger now, his favorite game came in 1985, his first year as head coach, when the Falcons shut out what was then the Ahoskie Cougars.

Both coaches said they were looking forward to seeing how the game turns out when the two clash at 7:30 p.m. Friday night.