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Bertie prepares for Western

WINDSOR – Tony Hoggard is happy, but not satisfied.

When he took the reins as Head Football Coach at Bertie High School two years ago, Hoggard stressed the importance of returning the Falcons to the elite status in football.

This week Bertie is preparing for the third round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs for the first time since winning the state title in 2000.

“I’m very happy to be back in the third round,” Hoggard said. “This is where I expect our football program to be year in and year out.

“Overall, this is a step in the right direction as we try to continue our progress,” he added. “I’m not satisfied yet, program-wise, but I am very happy with the way this team has come together.”

Bertie defeated West Craven 20-13 last Friday evening to advance to Friday night’s game at top-seeded Western Alamance.

Western (13-0) is undefeated this season and arrived in the third round thanks to a 37-10 win over Hertford County on Friday.

Hoggard said the Warriors may have the deepest team top-to-bottom he has seen all season.

“We have seen some very athletic players this season,” he said. “I don’t know if we have played anyone with as many athletes as they have position-to-position. It will be a test for us because you don’t see that kind of talent every day.”

Bertie will also deal with being on the road for the first time since the playoffs began and that is a concern for the second-year coach.

“We haven’t been on the road since Hertford County,” he said. “We also haven’t played in this type of atmosphere before. It will be a new experience for them.”

Hoggard said the only time Bertie has played in front of the amount of people they will see on Friday is when they did go to HCHS earlier this season.

“My goal is to make sure we don’t get starry-eyed,” he said.

Strategy, ever important, is something Hoggard has already worked out.

“Defensively, we have to take care of our responsibilities, play physically and play as a unit,” he said. “Communication will be important.

“Offensively, we need to execute our game plan and now what they try to dictate to us,” he added. “And, on special teams, we need to be errorless.”

Hoggard said he did take pride in knowing the Falcons had made the third round of the playoffs, despite ADM (Average Daily Membership) numbers which show the school is clearly a 2-A institution.

“Well, it shows we must have some decent players,” he mused. “It gives us pride to be able to say that. We were concerned about low numbers at the beginning of the season, but I guess now we understand why.”

The Falcons will attempt to continue their run through the playoffs Friday when they travel to Western Alamance. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.