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Division’s top seed on the line

WINDSOR – It’s the biggest rivalry in eastern North Carolina.

Both Bertie High School’s Tony Hoggard and Hertford County’s Diego Hasty know that fact. Still, both know there is more on the line during Friday night’s battle here than just local bragging rights.

With both football teams standing 4-1 in the Northeastern Coastal Conference and each having defeated the only other 3-A team in the league (Currituck), the Bears and Falcons are battling for first place in the 3-A division.

“That’s my concern,” Hasty said. “First place in the 3-A division is what we are most concerned about. I look at it as a chance to give us a good shot for having some home games n the playoffs. That’s the most important thing to us.”

Hoggard agreed.

“That’s the most important thing,” he said of the top seeding. “It’s the difference in playing at home and playing on the road and when you have an inexperienced team like ours, you like to play at home.”

Both coaches said they knew there would be a lot of fanfare around the game and that they hoped the fans and alumni would enjoy it, but they wanted to stay focused on football.

“There’s not much that needs to be said about the rivalry,” Hoggard insisted. “It’s inevitable. Tensions will be high and it will be a rowdy atmosphere.”

Hasty added, “I know it’s a rivalry. It’s the one game everyone in the area wants to see every year and that makes it important to the fans and the community.”

As they focus on football, each of the coaches said they were trying to limit the other team.

“We need to control the ball on offense,” Hoggard said. “Even if we don’t score, we need to have long drives and keep their speedy, high-powered offense off the field.

“Defensively, we need to be aggressive,” he added. “We need to hit them in the mouth and keep everything in front of us.”

Hasty said his club needed to develop consistency.

“We need to be consistent on defense,” he said. “We need to limit them if there’s any way possible. We want them to earn everything they get.

“Also, we need to capitalize on any mistakes they make,” he added.

The Bears and Falcons will have the opportunity to win bragging rights and the top seed in the 3-A Division at 7:30 p.m. Friday night.