Falcons depend on home

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 7, 2007

WINDSOR – Home is where the heart is. It’s also where the Falcons are.

Playing in Falcon Stadium Friday night is an important part of Bertie’s first round game in the state playoffs, according to second-year Head Football Coach Tony Hoggard.

The Falcons, seeded fifth in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A football playoffs, will host SouthWest Edgecombe Friday night in a rematch of last year’s second round contest.

Hoggard said the Cougars are a good football team and pose a huge challenge for Bertie.

“They’re a good football team,” Hoggard said. “They are well coached. They’re going to be tough to beat. Probably our only advantage is playing at home.”

Hoggard said that advantage was one he needed help from the fans to exploit.

“It’s a big advantage to be at home if we can get everyone to the game,” he said. “We have to get the town behind us. It’s going to take everything we’ve got to beat them.”

Asked about any SouthWest strengths, Hoggard said he had yet to find a weakness.

“This question is not their strengths, it’s is there a weakness,” he said. “I haven’t found one yet, but I’m still looking.”

The Falcons do have a host of players who remember losing last year at SouthWest and that is helpful for this season, Hoggard said.

“The seniors remember SouthWest last year,” he said. “They remember their season got stopped early. The crowd we have back doesn’t want that to happen again.”

Hoggard said there was no one player that would have to step up for Bertie to defeat the Cougars, but rather the entire football team.

“We have to have a team effort to win this football game,” he stressed.

Hoggard said he also needed to see his team be forceful in the opening minutes of the contest.

“I want to see aggression on offense, defense and special teams,” he stated. “We must be aggressive in all phases of the game.”

BHS has suffered some letdowns on special teams in the past few weeks and Hoggard said the first order of business in practice this week had been addressing those problems.

“We worked on those first thing this week,” he said.

The Falcons did lose Ryan White, a senior tight end, to a concussion in last week’s victory over Hertford County. Senior receiver Brandon Brown was also injured, but is listed as probable for Friday’s game.

A major concern for Hoggard is a letdown emotionally from last week’s victory over Hertford County that secured the Northeastern Coastal Conference championship for the Falcons.

“It’s a big concern,” he said. “To get so high and then have to come back down to earth is tough, but we’ve got to do it. If you lose now, you go home.”

He said having a stadium full of Falcon fan would help in that area.

“We need the fans to come out,” he said. “We sometimes have fewer fans for the first round of the playoffs because of playing Hertford County the week before. We can’t afford that this week.

“We need everyone to come out, be loud and support us,” he added. “This could be our last home game of the year and we need all the help we can get.”

Fans will be able to support their team when the contest kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Windsor.