A look into the future

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Well, here we are again.

At 7:30 p.m. Friday, four of the area’s seven teams will begin their 2006 gridiron campaign.

As I have most years when working in sports, it’s time for me to make me predictions for the upcoming year. I will make them this season, however, with the disclaimer that I was right only a single time last year.

In no particular order, here we go:

Northampton – West (10-0, 5-0)

I don’t think I’ve ever projected a team to go undefeated before, but this one seems like the best chance of any of our local clubs.

The Hurricanes return nine starters on defense and four key players on offense and they should be able to continue the roll that started last year.

The league may be better than usual, but not good enough to play with the Hurricanes.

Hertford County (9-2, 5-1)

This mark is the identical record I projected for the Bears last season, but it never came close.

In 2006, HCHS has better leadership and a stronger overall offense. This is the team that could get back to league dominance.

Rocky Mount is almost an insurmountable game that early in the season and the conference seems to always have a bump somewhere, but the Bears have the potential to be one of the best.

Lawrence Academy (5-4)

The Warriors have simply lost too many pieces of the puzzle over the past three years.

They’ll be competitive because of a strong offensive line and solid coaching from Alan Spencer, but it’s going to be a tough road to make the playoffs because of improvement from league opponents and having to play in a league with schools whose enrollment double that of the Warriors.

Gates County (5-6)

With the Red Barons, the problem is scheduling.

While locked into a master schedule that leaves little room for non-league opponents, Gates County has to face some of the best 1-A teams in the state and they are going to be extremely young at some key positions.

Manteo should be the top 1-A team in the state and Roanoke should be right with them. The Barons also meet 2-A power Edenton and perennial rival Williamston.

If they gel early, it could be a different season, but overall, they will have to fight for every win.

Northeast Academy (3-7)

The Eagles have a new skipper in Collin Sneed and a new outlook on life.

The team who had the area’s most complex offensive scheme, has seen the playbook whittled down to a run-based style which better suits the personnel on the club.

Northeast still has a ways to go, but they’re stronger and tougher than they’ve been in a long time and that will keep them in games they haven’t been for a while.

Bertie (5-6, 3-3)

Last season I projected my alma mater to finish 2-9 and almost had my diploma revoked.

They more than embarrassed me with a 4-2 league finish and a trip to the state playoffs.

This year the Falcons have more talent that is older and could be solid. Unfortunately, they have a brutal non-conference schedule that includes 4-A heavyweights New Bern and J.H. Rose.

If they survive, they have a chance to compete with Hertford County for the league title, but surviving such a rough schedule may be a lot to ask, even with Tony Hoggard at the helm.

Northampton – East (2-9, 1-4)

The Rams are small – check that, very small.

While they have some talent, they play in a league where Northampton-West, Louisburg and Weldon are all going to be much bigger and much stronger.

Couple that with a non-conference schedule which includes 1-A power Roanoke, an improving Northwest Halifax and Northside, another perennially strong team, and it could be a long year in Creeksville.

I’m going to add at the end here something that I really don’t think I should have to say, but obviously I do because of some of the reactions I got last year.

I never want any of our teams to lose a game. I root for them every time I am at a game and even when I’m not there, I am hoping they will do well.

Each year I project the finish of our area’s clubs because that’s what we do in sports reporting. These are my opinions based on schedules, strength and a variety of other factors.

By all means, use them as a rallying point, give me a hard time when I’m wrong and have a good time at my expense. Just don’t take them personally.

Questions? Comments? Snide remarks? All are welcome

I can be reached at thadd.white@r-cnews.com or by calling 332-7211.

Be careful out there and be good sports.