Bears vs. Falcons Part 1

Published 12:30 pm Thursday, August 26, 2010

AHOSKIE – It’s week two, but it’s already time.

With just one game under their belts, Bertie High and Hertford County High are getting ready to renew their annual gridiron rivalry.

While it’s an important early season barometer, neither HCHS mentor Scott Privott nor Bertie football boss Greg Watford is willing to make this game a “do or die” contest.

“Our whole season won’t be determined by Friday night,” Privott said. “November will be a different story because hopefully we’ll both be playing for a conference championship. I hope that’s what we’re playing for.

“This week, we’re playing to get better for next week,” he added. “We didn’t play well last week, so we need to get better.”

Watford agreed.

“This is a chance for us to get better against another good opponent,” he said. “Our schedule doesn’t get any easier after this one because we have New Bern and then an underrated Northampton-East team after that.

“Our kids are working hard,” Watford added. “They know what we have to do to win.”

Both teams are coming off disappointing season-openers. The Falcons fell 26-7 against Rocky Mount while Hertford County had to rally past Gates County 21-20.

“Last week was an eye-opener for us,” Privott said. “Gates County was a really tough team. They were good at what they do. I think our kids got an eye-opener and know they have to play four quarters and not turn the ball over.”

Privott said a pair of costly turnovers nearly let the Barons walk out of Ahoskie with a win, but he was proud of his team’s ability to come back.

“It was big for us to fight and come back,” he said. “I told the boys after the game that if you win the close ones, the big ones will come.”

Watford saw his team commit five turnovers in the loss to the Gryphons, but said the offense was better than he thought.

“I learned we weren’t as bad as we thought,” he said. “I know that may sound crazy when you turn the ball over five times, but I knew we were still learning and we were going to struggle.

“I think the greatest benefit is we learned what we needed to work on,” he added. “We learned we probably need to platoon more and we had to rework our defensive line to address some issues there.”

Both coaches have seen game film of the other team.

Privott said he was concerned about Bertie’s running game.

“Their power running game is a concern for us,” he said. “They have two great tailbacks in Corbin Rascoe and Darius Moody. If we don’t tackle them early, they’ll take it to the house.”

The HCHS mentor said he believed the strongest point for the Bears would be the defensive line play.

“I think our defensive front is a strong point,” he said. “We’ve made some changes there and will be a lot bigger up front than we were last week.”

Watford said his worries about the Bears are two-fold.

“Petey Boone and their defensive line,” he quipped. “They are what we have to work on.”

Boone is the Bears’ starting quarterback who had a hand in all three touchdowns for HCHS a week ago.

Watford said he believed the Falcons would match up well with their defensive line.

“We feel like our defensive line against their offensive line could be a strength for us,” he said. “We’re hoping our strength and quickness will compensate for their size.”

The coach said he also believes the skill positions could benefit Bertie.

“If we hang on to the football, we can have success with our skill people,” he said.

The rivalry is something both coaches said they know well and expect will play a part in the game.

“The rivalry will speak for itself. There’s nothing I can do about that,” Privott said. “My job is to keep the kids on an even keel. The excitement will fade after the first two or three series then it’s time to play football.”

Watford said his team had to focus on winning and not on the color of the opposing jersey.

“For us, we need a win,” he said. “We worked hard all summer and winning is your pay day. After having a tough loss against Rocky Mount, now we have to turn around and play a tough Hertford County team.

“A win means we’re back on that level and I think our talent dictates we should be on that level,” he said. “I have been telling our kids all summer and I believe that our worst opponent will never be on the other side of the ball, it will be us. If we can control us, we can control the people on the other side of the ball. If we keep turning the ball over, we won’t beat anyone.”

Watford, a graduate of Ahoskie High and former Head Football Coach at HCHS, said he knows his arrival at Bertie during the offseason will have an effect on the game.

“I’m sure it elevates the rivalry for some people,” he said. “There are folks in both counties that eat, sleep and live their school.

“I graduated from there and coached there, but now I’m a Bertie guy,” he said. “That’s where I make my money. That’s where I’ve spent the summer working with these guys. That means if this is Bertie’s rivalry, it’s my rivalry.”

Privott, who worked under Watford at HCHS, said the rivalry would be a little different.

“It’s just going to be exciting,” he said. “A lot of my kids know him from him living here and having been here in the past.

“I know what he’s going to do because he taught it to me and he knows what I’m going to do because we’ve been around each other,” Privott added. “We can talk as much as we want, but it will be up to the kids to execute.”

Watford agreed.

“It always comes down to x’s and o’s,” he said. “We’re trying to win a conference championship and a state title. To do that, we have to beat some good folks and Hertford is good folks. I know the quality of athlete they have and the fact they have quality coaching.

“For us, it’s a chance to compete against a great program that happens to be our next door neighbor and our rival,” he added.

The rivalry will be renewed at 7:30 p.m. Friday night.