It’s off to Winston

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 6, 2005

To be honest, I’m not surprised to be heading to a state footballchampionship game this weekend.

First of all, a few of us make the trek to the state title games most every year and secondly, I felt we had a good chance of covering a state title game from the Roanoke-Chowan area.

Of course, I expected to be at the site of the 3-A title game where the Bears of Hertford County would be competing.

Alas, it was not the season the Bears had hoped for whatever reason. I can give you a long list, but that’s for another day.

It was several weeks into the season before I started realizing just how good the Hurricanes of Northampton County High School – West were.

I knew they would be improved over last season and I believed they had a real shot at winning the Tar-Roanoke Conference, but that feat in itself really doesn’t mean very much when it comes to 1-A football.

In fact, in my preseason projections, I forecast the Hurricanes just 5-6 overall.

It took about three weeks of the regular season to find out how wrong that pick was. The Hurricanes didn’t just win early, they dominated on both sides of the football.

I’ve documented many times my admiration for West coach Diego Hasty. I’ve often called myself one of his biggest fans.

That respect grew this year as I watched him work with his coaches to take a team that was good and make them better. They just kept getting better.

By the time the Hurricanes wrapped up the regular season, I knew they had what it took to make it to Winston-Salem. I also knew they had a hard road to get there.

One local analyst picked Roanoke, Manteo and Southside as the three best teams in the 1-A bracket. West had to face in succession North Edgecombe, Roanoke, Manteo and Southside to get to the state title game.

They took on all comers and never stopped believing they belonged on the field with anyone. They certainly did.

Southside is a great football team with an excellent coach. DeWayne Kellum and his team have been there over and over and were the defending Eastern Regional Champion. It took a lot of hard work, guts and character to beat the Seahawks on their own home turf.

One thing I learned about this team early is the Hurricanes have a lot of character. They’ve shown it in games and they’ve shown it afterwards.

Hasty and coach Jerome Williams often remind their kids to &uot;walk out of here like gentlemen&uot; as they break the midfield huddle to head to the locker room.

Titus Lee has been the single most important element on the team because he has given them the guts and senior leadership you have to have.

A talented offensive line led by Joe Huff has been outstanding in their play. On the game-winning drive Friday night, the Seahawks absolutely could not handle the offensive line of the Hurricanes.

Chris Smith, Aljerald Butcher, Mack Parker, Todd Squire, Desmond Roberts, Rashawn Roberts and many others have made this team special.

I was extremely happy for the kids at Northampton-West, coach Hasty, coach Williams, Defensive Coordinator David Crossin and the other members of the coaching staff. It was great to see them get to a state title game they so richly deserve.

I am also proud of the fans from Northampton-West who were there in good numbers and who were absolutely a factor in the game. Good job by the Hurricane fans.

Now, it’s off to Winston-Salem and a state title tilt with Elkin.