All the right moves

Published 9:58 am Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bertie High School made a good move this week.

In the least surprising announcement since Michael Jordan was voted into the Hall of Fame, Greg Watford was named Head Football Coach for the Falcons. He was formally introduced at a press conference Tuesday morning.

Watford, who has ties to the Roanoke-Chowan region in a variety of ways including graduating from Ahoskie High School, coaching at Hertford County High and serving as football coach and Athletic Director at Northampton -East, was by far the best choice the Falcons could have made. He’s the right man at the right place at the right time.

Now, I’m admittedly a little biased. I’ve known Coach Watford longer than a lot of people even know. I was the reporter at the Scotland Neck Commonwealth who wrote the story when he was named to his first head coaching position at Southeast Halifax High School.

For those keeping score at home, that was 18 years ago in 1992.

That isn’t the only reason I feel the way I do, however. I also felt like it was time for some fresh blood at Bertie High School. The Falcons have made three consecutive football coach hires from within their own staff covering the same 18-year span.

Roy Bond became a legend at Bertie, winning two state titles and eight conference championships in his 12 years at the helm. Willie Roberson, a man I love and respect, held down the fort for two seasons before retiring and then came Tony Hoggard. Coach Hoggard kept the Falcons disciplined and won a pair of league titles before moving into administration.

All of those were good hires, but after nearly two decades of basically the same philosophy, it was time for Bertie to look outside its comfort zone and bring in a coach who would do things differently, shake things up and make the Falcon football team a different unit.

You can believe all of those happened when Bertie County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chip Zullinger introduced Watford Tuesday afternoon.

The Power-I and the Pro-I have been staples at Bertie for longer than most can remember and while those formations may be used at times, make no mistake: the Falcons will be running the Flex-Bone preferred by Watford. He has made that his offense of choice and things will be no different in Windsor.

The high-powered and often explosive offense will be a vast change from the three yards and a cloud of dust the Falcons have run for most of the past two decades.

That’s exciting if you’re a fan of Falcon football.

I’m also pleased with the hiring of Watford because he is a quality human being who genuinely cares about his student-athletes. He makes sending them to college a priority and that’s something that will be good for the football players at Bertie. He’ll showcase their talents and give them every opportunity to play collegiately.

What Coach Watford gets in his move is the tradition of two state titles, a veteran and competent coaching staff and student-athletes who will make the Falcons a force to contend with.

Things changed for the better this week for all Falcon football fans.

Thadd White is Sports Editor and Staff Writer of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached via email at or by telephone at 332-7211.