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Rams welcome HCHS

CREEKSVILLE – There’s a mountain to climb.

That’s the way first-year Northampton County High School n East coach Greg Watford sees Friday night’s football game with visiting Hertford County High School.

“When they’re bigger, you hope you’re quicker,” Watford said. “When they’re bigger and quicker, it makes it tough.

“I guess the alternative is to hide, but there’s no place to hide,” he joked.

The Rams enter Friday’s battle with their neighbors at 1-1 after shellacking Mattamuskeet 46-0 at home last week. The Bears come in at 2-0 with victories over Parkland High School in Winston-Salem and Southern High School in Durham.

Watford said his club had a slow practice on Monday. He credited that mainly to the first day of school.

“Tuesday was great,” he said. “The kids worked hard and got after it pretty good. Today will tell the tale.”

Watford said he had taken time to put in some things to try to offset the Bears’ size advantage.

“We’re going to have to have some success passing the ball,” he said. “We have had some success early this season, but we’ll need more. If we can do that, we’re going to be fine.”

As for controlling Hertford County’s ground attack, the coach said he knew it was going to be a challenge.

Ron Gatling is leading the Bears on the ground, having rushed for 116 yards on 27 carries in the opening two games of the season. He’s added three touchdowns and is averaging 4.3 yards per carry.

Shea Tann is also over 100 yards for the Bears this season. He has 101 yards rushing on 12 carries and is averaging 8.4 yards per carry.

HCHS quarterback Antonio Vaughan is a dual threat, passing for 36 yards in the first two games while running for additional 67 yards.

“We have to control their running attack and I don’t know how to do it,” Watford said. “We have to get in the backfield because we can’t control the line of scrimmage. They’re too big and too strong.”

Northampton-East is a small 1-A school who has never beaten an Ahoskie-based team. That includes both Ahoskie High School and the current Hertford County High School.

Watford said the HCHS defense made Northampton’s quest to defeat the Bears an even more difficult task.

“They have two or three potential Shrine Bowl players on that side of the football,” Watford said. “They’ve got all kinds of size and speed as well.”

One different aspect of this game features the coaches of the two squads. Watford is a graduate of Ahoskie High School, one of the two schools that merged to form Hertford County High School.

His counterpart, Diego Hasty, is in his first year as Head Football Coach at HCHS, but is a graduate of Northampton County High School, the forerunner of Northampton-East.

Watford left the job at Hertford County to become Athletic Director and Head Football Coach at East.

“For me, it’s very similar to when I was at Hertford County and we played West Carteret in the playoffs,” Watford said. “Coaching isn’t just a career, it’s your life. We put our heart into those kids and worked hard for them.

“It’s like having a family spat,” he continued. “Hopefully, we can come in, fight hard, play hard, come out victories and still love each other. Diego and I have been friends for years and I will root for them every game but one.”

The Rams will get the opportunity to change their fortunes when they welcome Hertford County at 7:30 p.m. Friday evening at Roy F. Lowry Stadium.