Bears, Bertie battle in early season test

Published 10:45 am Thursday, August 27, 2009

WINDSOR – Will it be ‘Clash of the Titans’ or ‘Remember The Titans’?

Either way the real winner will be the fans.

For the first time since 1993, Hertford County High and Bertie High will meet on the football field twice in the regular season.

The first game, set for Friday night at 7:30 at Bertie Stadium, will be a non-league contest with the regularly-scheduled Northeastern Coastal Conference match-up coming on the final night of the regular season (Nov. 6).

Both coaches have lengthy experience with the rivalry from playing days to head coach.

“I’ve been in this for 19 years,” noted first-year Hertford County coach Scott Privott. And his involvement goes back further to his days as a player for Daryl Allen at the old Ahoskie High School.

“I’ve seen the good and the bad,” he said with a laugh. “From stretches when we didn’t win a game to a six-year win streak.”

“I told the kids it’s a big rivalry and you can’t slack off;” Privott added. “We need 48 minutes of intensity Friday night.”

His counterpart, veteran Bertie Coach Tony Hoggard says, “I’ve mentioned the rivalry, but a lot of our kids are pretty young (as players) and they may not quite understand it. This game will give them an idea of what they’ll face.”

If there’s any early advantage, it’s that Hertford County has played a game already; winning on the road Friday at Gates County, 47-14. Bertie had only one pre-season scrimmage, with Roanoke two weeks ago. A scheduled scrimmage in Elizabeth City had to be cancelled because of rain.

“I really don’t know which team will show up for us Friday night,” said Hoggard. “One that will show up with a lot of fight, or one that will expose our youth and inexperience.”

“I want our intensity to improve,” said Privott. “We got out to a big lead Friday night and then kind of coasted for the rest of the game. This week I’m telling the kids I want to see them playing all out for all four quarters.”

“But I do feel better,” he added, “having played last week.”

Facing a squad that boasts reigning Conference Player of the Year in Bears quarterback-defensive back Antonio Vaughan who ran for over 1,000 yards last year and threw for 750 yards, along with four interceptions, three that he ran back for touchdowns, gets Hoggard’s attention. As does 6-3, 230-pound linebacker, Markee White, who’s drawing a lot of interest from Division-I colleges.

“We’ll certainly find out if we’re ready because there’ll be a lot of flying around out there,” said Hoggard, “Hertford County has a lot of speed.”

“I’m not that concerned with stopping them as much as slowing them down and maybe giving us a chance.”

Hoggard will also be without a key player on his line, center Kemoni Francis, who is out with an injury. But the Falcons do boast some bulk up front in junior Thomas Perry.

“I saw some promise in the scrimmage with my young backfield anchored by tailback Darrius Moody and quarterback Torrence Mourning, but everything else will be untested,” Hoggard said. “I know Scott will use every weapon that he has.”

Both coaches acknowledge that such a big game on the opening week of school can be distracting. However, both say they have had good practices this week.

“We had a spirited and physical practice on Tuesday,” said Privott. “But I need to get them tough because we’re going to need it to stop the run.”

Hoggard is glad to have the home-field advantage in this first meeting.

“I don’t have fond memories of games like this early in the season,” he said. “But playing at home might take away the nervousness and give us a bit more confidence.”

“All of our kids are pretty happy now,” said Privott. “It may be just one game, but we’re undefeated.”

Because of the two-year mandate on neither team’s marching band performing at the other’s home field during away games Hertford County’s band will not attend the game.

“They’re our ’12th man'” said Privott. “But then again we didn’t have them last week when we won at Gates.”

“Win or lose,” said Hoggard”, it’s going to make for quite a rematch on November 6.”