Bertie faces test

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 17, 2006

WILSON – It’s Hoggard time.

The Tony Hoggard era of Bertie High School football officially begins Friday night when the Falcons pay a non-league visit to Wilson’s James B. Hunt High School for the opening night of the season.

And while the Falcons debut will be the first for Hoggard, the coach isn’t spending much time dwelling on it.

&uot;I’m excited and at the same time I have a lot of concerns,&uot; Hoggard said. &uot;It’s football. Once the pads start popping, I’ll forget about it being my first game as a head coach and concentrate on what’s going on.&uot;

What will be going on when the Falcons meet their former Big Eight Conference foes will be a battle, according to the coach.

&uot;It’s going to be a tough battle for us,&uot; Hoggard insisted. &uot;Hunt has a typical Hunt team. They’re big and fast. They will line up and run the ball at you.&uot;

The first-year skipper said he was convinced that Hunt skipper Randy Raper would not pull any surprises, but would play the typical hard-nosed brand of Warrior football.

For his part, Hoggard is using Friday as a way to gauge how things are progressing in his effort to rebuild the once proud tradition of Bertie High School football.

&uot;I feel like it will be an early test for us to see where we are as far as getting back to Bertie football,&uot; he said.

Hoggard said he thought the strength of the offense would be the backfield where third-year starter Desmond Williams and running backs Jarekus Creecy and Kendale Bridgett are expected to start.

The coach said he was also happy to see improvement along the offensive line.

&uot;We are starting to gel on the offensive line,&uot; he said. &uot;We’re not nearly where we need to be, but we are improving.&uot;

Besides continuing to improve on the offensive line, Hoggard said his squad needed to improve their defensive tenacity and aggressiveness.

The Falcons will open their season with Hunt before moving through one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the state as they meet Hunt, J.H. Rose and New Bern in successive weeks.

They began that walk through fire Friday with a 7:30 p.m. date at Hunt.