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It’s Hoggard time

WINDSOR – The future is now.

Tony Hoggard was promoted to head varsity football coach at Bertie High School here Friday morning. Hoggard takes over for the retiring Willie Roberson.

&uot;Tony Hoggard brings great credentials,&uot; Bertie Athletic Director Marvin Rankins said. &uot;He is an outstanding plus for our program and I think he will do a great job.&uot;

Bertie’s Athletic Administrator, Ricky Eley, was also satisfied with the choice.

&uot;There is a long tradition of sports at Bertie, especially in football,&uot; Eley said. &uot;The last few years have been somewhat disappointing based on our past, but we are hoping the youthfulness will get Bertie back to where it should be.&uot;

Hoggard has more than 10 years experience with the Falcons, joining them as an offensive assistant during the 1992 season when he was still working at C.G. White Middle School in Powellsville.

He was promoted to Bertie High School and made part of the permanent coaching staff in 1995, the year the Falcons won the first of two state titles under then coach Roy Bond. When Bond retired two years ago, Hoggard was tabbed as Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator during Roberson’s tenure.

On Friday, Hoggard said he was realizing a dream.

&uot;I greatly appreciate the opportunity to coach football at Bertie High School,&uot; he said. &uot;This has been a dream of mine and I thank God for the opportunity.&uot;

The coach admitted the team he inherited was one that was a far cry from the state championship clubs that were at the school in 1995 and 2000, but said he wanted to see steady growth as they made their way back to prominence.

&uot;Our goals are to become dominant in the east again and to be a contender in the state playoffs,&uot; Hoggard said. &uot;To do that, we must improve strength and conditioning as well as academics.&uot;

As he approaches the 2006 season, Hoggard said he would make changes to a team that finished 4-8 last year with a first round playoff loss.

&uot;As far as early promises, I won’t make any,&uot; he said. &uot;I do know this, we will make some changes. The attitude of the Bertie High School football team will be different and I hope we will make it more exciting.&uot;

The new coach said the team would need support from the community and patience to get where he wanted them to be.

&uot;With change, there comes stumbling blocks,&uot; Hoggard said. &uot;We will get through them, but we will need people to be supportive and patient.&uot;

Hoggard is a 1987 graduate of Bertie High School and was a three-year letterman for Ron Cooke’s Falcons. Upon graduation he played football at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a bachelor’s degree from the institution in 1991.

Returning home was always key for Hoggard, who said the Bertie High School job was special to him because it was his high school.

&uot;This is home,&uot; he said. &uot;I want to give back to this community. I know this is a rural area and the kids here need something as an outlet; something they can feel proud of. Sports can give them that.&uot;

As he looked to the future, the new Falcon leader said he thought it would take two or three years to rebuild the program, but insisted there would be certain changes that could be seen immediately.

For his part, Bertie High School Principal Wayne Mayo said he was certain Hoggard was the right man for the job.

&uot;We looked at the service provided by Mr. Hoggard and he was the appropriate candidate,&uot; Mayo said. &uot;We are excited to have him as our head football coach.

&uot;He has done an outstanding job as an assistant coach and his leadership skills made it clear he was the right choice,&uot; Mayo added.

Hoggard will be assisted Rankins, Eley, Robert Brown, Calvin Moore and Randy Whitaker.