Back to the future

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I have been covering football since I was a senior in high school.

While I’ll decline to say when that was, let’s just say that I’ve had that year on my mind a couple of times here lately.

The first came a week ago when I was on the campus of my alma mater, Bertie High School. During my visit, I was set to meet with Bill Hawkins who was the Athletic Director and head football coach at Bertie when I began writing for this newspaper in my high school years.

It was Coach who gave me my first lesson about writing football: KISS or Keep It Simple, Stupid.

As always, my flare for the dramatic caused me problems in my very first printed article when I proclaimed that Bertie and Havelock hated each other. In fact, they did have a huge rivalry back then, but they didn’t hate each other. Well, maybe the fans did.

Anyway, that isn’t the point. My point was that coach Hawkins taught me to try to stick to the game when I’m writing about one.

Having the coach back is something that I’ve wanted probably since the day he left. As he’s often said, I’m one of his. I didn’t think he should have left Bertie when he did.

We’d have won a state championship in 1989 to go with the ones in 1995 and 2000 if he had stayed.

Coach Hawkins was a good football coach and is a better person. He taught me more about football, softball and even U.S. History than I would have ever thought I would learn.

At some point, I’ll go into more detail about what I learned from him, but for now I’ll paraphrase Bum Phillips: Bill Hawkins may not be in a class by himself, but whatever class he’s in, it doesn’t take long to call the role.

Getting back to my other thought: in more than 15 years of coving high school football, I’ve never been to the East-West game.

While I would have liked to have gone last year when Hertford County’s Greg Watford was an assistant coach on the East team, it wasn’t possible.

This year, however, the folks hear at the News-Herald made sure I was able to go because we had four players and a coach on the team.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect because I hadn’t been before and I was pleasantly surprised.

The game was enjoyable, not just because of the East’s heroic comeback in the second half, but because of the way it was played.

The kids gave their all and did a good job.

All four of our local kids – LaMarcus Bond, Graylon Boone, Joe Huff and Melvin Rogers – started for the East. All but Boone were on offense.

Gates County head football coach Clark Harrell served as Defensive Coordinator for the East and shut down the West squad through most of the second half.

I was pleased with the way our kids played and with the way they represented the area. Bond, in particular, laid out a player from the West on a clean, but fierce block.

Hopefully, these five making the East team this season showed that we can play football in northeastern North Carolina and we’ll have more representatives in the next few years.

Questions? Comments? Snide remarks? All are welcome.

You can reach me at or call me at 332-7211.

Be careful out there and be good sports.