Opinion: Northeast a winner

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 9, 2006

If you are a regular reader of this newspaper then by now you know that Northeast Academy fell in the second round of the state playoffs.

I would first like to say that this will be the last time I talk about the Eagles football team in my column.

But after watching them have losing seasons that last three years I’ve covered them, I think I am entitled to talk about them for one more week.

Before I get call that says, &uot;Hey, Northeast was 4-7.

That’s not a winning season!&uot; let me assure you that the Eagles did indeed have a winning season no matter what their win-loss record is.

I would like to echo Thadd White’s comments last week that Collin Sneed is the Coach of the Year in the Roanoke-Chowan area.

Heck, I’ll nominate him for Coach of the Year in the state.

You only have to look at the athletes Northeast has had – John Harrell, Brian McLean, Barry Barrett and Hunter Harrell just to name a few- to know the talent has been there.

The last part of the puzzle finally fit this year when the Board of Directors hired Sneed.

This is a coach that has no ties to Northeast Academy, does not teach there and does not have any children there.

Despite this the connection Sneed has with his players and the respect they have for him is obvious.

That’s not to say that hasn’t Sneed faced an uphill battle.

Four years ago four players quit with some games left in the season.

Now four players may not sound like a lot, but when you play eight-man football that’s half your team.

Two years ago Skip Cooke came on board to take over a team that was in turmoil.

Cooke brought with him an extensive playbook and last year had a number of players that were in their first year of football.

His playbook proved to be too much and I often saw players unsure which of the 65 plays they were supposed to run.

No disrespect to Cooke as he did a good job, but by the end of last season, I’m not sure who was more ready for it to end – the fans or the players.

This year Sneed stepped in and guided his team to a 4-7 season including victories over Hobgood, Lawrence and Halifax.

More importantly, he made football at Northeast fun again. The guys actually looked as if they were enjoying playing, instead of counting the minutes to the end of the season.

Of course, he didn’t do it alone.

The players had to buy in to Sneed’s system and they paid full price.

We’re talking about a team that started conditioning and learning plays in June.

That’s six months of football – a huge commitment.

That commitment paid off huge for Northeast and the team.

Saturday night’s game against Word of God showed just how far the Eagles have come.

I don’t believe past teams would have come back from 24 points down.

With Sneed’s game plan, Brodie Harrell jumping over the defense, Arch Harrell telling defenses to get out of his way or taking them with him and Drew Pinnix’s leadership on the field and the sidelines, the Eagles did just that.

Halifax underestimated Northeast the week before and I don’t think Word of God wanted to face an overtime against the Eagles.

Several weeks ago I gave Jay Baugham the team spirit award.

I need to give honorable mentions to Hall Edwards, John Michael Timberlake and Jeff White for cheering on their team and getting the crowd involved.

Northeast may not have a state title, but this team will still go down in the books.

Next year, teams will know just who Northeast Academy is.

Heather Odom can be reached at sports@r-cnews.com