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A season for the ages

GASTON – Every football player who has put on a jersey has a tale.

For nearly 40 who suited up in the navy and gray of Northampton County High School – West, 2005 likely will be that story.

The Hurricanes of Northampton-West were able to set about every record in school history, accomplishing more than any team that had gone before them.

The 2005 squad won 14 games, claimed a Tar-Roanoke Conference championship while going undefeated in the league, won a Regional title and made their first-ever appearance in a state championship game.

Four of the 40 were team captains Titus Lee, Aljerald Butcher, Joe Huff and Rashaun Roberts.

Lee was a standout at running back, picking up 1,666 yards on 218 carries. Huff was the anchor of an offensive line that led the Hurricanes to the promised land. Roberts was one of the area’s best linebackers and the head of the defense while Butcher served as a tight end of the offensive unit and linebacker on the defense.

As they looked back on a record-setting season, each of the four had their own unique memories.

&uot;This season was just a dream come true for the team and coaches,&uot; Butcher said. &uot;The thing that stand out the most is how we grew as a true team.&uot;

His sentiments were similar to Huff, who said he was pleased with how the team grew.

Lee said he would remember the trip to the state title game.

&uot;I’ll remember how far we went,&uot; he said. &uot;We were the first team around here to make it to the state 1-A championship.&uot;

Roberts echoes those thoughts, saying he was also proud of being the area’s first state title game team.

The Hurricanes set different goals for the season as they began. Roberts pointed out his desire to win the Tar-Roanoke Conference and be able to play at home during the state playoffs.

Lee’s goals were three-fold heading into the campaign. He wanted to defeat the teams in the area, win the conference and make a run at the state title game.

Butcher’s goal was more personal.

&uot;The goal I tried to set for myself was to be a leader and to be the best I can be on and off the field,&uot; he said. &uot;The goal I tried to set for the team was to encourage them that football is to just have fun and play football.&uot;

As the season progressed, the players, much like their coaches, had different times when they realized they were good enough to play for a state title.

Butcher said he realized it at the jamboree in preseason while Lee pointed out the loss to Charlotte Country Day. Huff said he felt the team had potential the first day of practice while Roberts believed after defeating North Edgecombe 65-0 in the regular season.

Each of the players credited head coach Diego Hasty, along with coordinators David Crossin and Jerome Williams, and the rest of the staff for the season’s accomplishments.

&uot;All of the coaches have meant a whole lot,&uot; Roberts said. &uot;I mean they are the reason we got where we are today. Their hard work and dedication to the team has taken us far.&uot;

Lee called the coaches an &uot;inspiration.&uot;

&uot;They have been coaching for a long time and we as a team knew they were hungry for a big season just like we were,&uot; he said.

&uot;They meant a lot to me,&uot; Huff added. &uot;They helped me mature and made me a better person.&uot;

Butcher said their impact was far more than one season.

&uot;The coaches have been a big part of my football career and life,&uot; he insisted. &uot;Playing for these coaches has taught me discipline and they have shown me life isn’t only about football.&uot;

All four said the state title game was a huge event in their life and they would always remember it.

&uot;(That) Saturday will be a day I will always remember,&uot; Butcher said. &uot;What happened Saturday was a once in a lifetime thing for me. I will always remember the feeling for that game. That is a game I will tell my kids about.&uot;

Huff said he would remember the fans that were at Groves Stadium in Winston-Salem because they were a big part of the day, including his mom and dad.

&uot;Even though we lost the game, I will never forget that moment playing for a state championship,&uot; Roberts said. &uot;The feeling that it gave me was so special. I played every minute of that game just full of pride and joy.&uot;

Lee said his recollection would be the team taking the field together and the crowd cheering for them. He said he will also remember having the game-high rushing mark and winning the Outstanding Offensive Player Award for his team.

All of them said they appreciated their place in Northampton-West history.

&uot;This means so much to me because it has always been my dream to get to a state championship and have that experience,&uot; Roberts said.

&uot;It feels great to be part of history and to go out with a bang,&uot; Huff added. &uot;I can tell my kids this story one day.&uot;

Butcher said with it being his senior year, the ending was perfect.

&uot;This year we have gone the furthest we have ever gone before,&uot; Butcher said. &uot;What more could you ask for than to go to the state championship your senior year?&uot;

Lee said the key would be having the next group try to emulate the accomplishment.

&uot;I will remember that we paved the way for future players and that will motivate the incoming players to try to match our season.&uot;