‘Drive for 5’ begins

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 9, 2004

CHAPEL HILL – Five local teams have qualified for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs.

Northampton County High School – East, the co-champions of the Tar-Roanoke Conference, led the way for the area as they are seeded seventh in the 1-AA playoffs. They will host number 10 seed North Johnston at 7:30 p.m. Friday evening.

&uot;It’s really hard to describe, but in a word I would say we’re a little surprised,&uot; second-year East skipper H.B. Harris said. &uot;With the success we’ve had over the last five games, we were looking for that next year.

&uot;The kids have responded to the coaching staff,&uot; he continued. &uot;Coach (Mark) Long and coach (Donald) Gibbs and the rest of the staff has done an excellent job.&uot;

The coach said while he was elated, he was also cautious.

&uot;It’s almost a semi-dream state,&uot; he said. &uot;Excited, but a little tempered is my state right now.&uot;

Surprised might also be the best way to describe Hertford County’s playoff picture.

The Bears, who lost to West Carteret last season and then hired their football coach away, will line up against the Patriots again this season.

Last year, West Carteret was seeded fifteenth and upset the second-seeded Bears in Ahoskie behind the direction now-HCHS skipper Greg Watford.

&uot;Obviously, I’m excited,&uot; Watford said. &uot;We’re happy to be in, especially with how we started. We knew the non-conference season was to prepare you for the conference, which prepares you for the playoffs.

&uot;We still have some goals that we are able to obtain,&uot; Watford said. &uot;Getting into the playoffs gives us the opportunity to meet more of those goals.&uot;

As far as West Carteret, Watford realizes both schools have something to gain.

&uot;I’ll be honest, I’m excited we have a home game, doesn’t matter who it is,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s exciting on our part as well as theirs. They’ll be coming after us and I think we’ll be ready for them as well.&uot;

Gates County will also be making what has become their ritual – a post-season appearance.

As the second seed from the rugged Four Rivers Conference, the Red Barons are seeded sixth in the 1-AA playoffs and will host another team that seems to always make the playoffs in Midway.

Northampton-West has three consecutive post-season appearances under the direction of veteran skipper Diego Hasty.

The Hurricanes drew the number 13 seed in the 1-A playoffs and will travel to Jamesville to meet the fourth-seeded Bullets.

The final squad to make the postseason is Bertie. The Falcons, who finished 3-8 on the season, will travel to Wilson to meet former Big Eight Conference foe R.L. Fike High School in the first round of the 3-A playoffs.

The Falcons are seeded sixteenth while the Golden Demons are the 3-A’s top seeded club.

&uot;Basically, we’re going to tell the guys to hit them and keep from giving up the big play,&uot; first-year Falcon skipper Willie Roberson said.

Bertie is coming off an emotional playoff-like game in which they held high-scoring Hertford County to seven points and the coach said he believed it would give the defense a lift.

&uot;Anytime you have a big game offensively or defensively, it gives you an emotional lift,&uot; Roberson said. &uot;Playing strong defensively should help our morale.&uot;

As far as facing the top seed, Roberson said his team would have to be ready.

&uot;Well, in the playoffs everyone has a clean slate,&uot; he said. &uot;If you put together five wins, they’ll be crowning you the champion.&uot;