Bears looks for six straight
AHOSKIE – Facing three straight losses, Hertford County’s varsity football team had two options.
They could pack in the season and start focusing on basketball, or pick themselves up, dust themselves off and make a late run to the state playoffs.
The Bears chose the latter, rolling off five straight victories enroute to a number two overall seed in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs.
They will have the opportunity to continue that run Friday night when they open the playoffs at home against Southern Wayne High School.
“I’m very proud of the way we ended up the season,” HCHS second-year coach Scott Privott said. “We went through some adversity with three straight losses, but we bounced back, won five straight and we’re entering the playoffs on a high note.”
Not only have the Bears bounced back to win, but they have averaged achieving victory by more than 28 points per game. They are fresh off a 56-19 win at rival Bertie High School.
The biggest plus for the Bears is that for the first time in a number of years, they enter the playoffs with a fairly healthy team, including senior quarterback Petey Boone. Boone has been Mr. Everything for the Bears as he leads the team in multiple statistical categories.
He has over 800 yards passing (817) during the season on 40-of-99 with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. He is also the team’s leading rusher, only 27 yards shy of reaching the 1,000-yard mark for the year.
Boone also leads the state in the “pick six” category, having returned three of his five interceptions for a touchdown.
“I feel very, very fortunate to have a healthy starting quarterback heading into the playoffs,” Privott said. “Petey is also playing at a high level right now. His confidence is where it should be and he’s making good reads and good decisions.”
In addition to Boone’s running ability, the Bears have running back Aaron Thomas who has gained 397 yards on 74 carries this season. Devin Vaughan has added 182 yards on 34 carries.
The only piece missing from the HCHS backfield is Neil Outlaw, who had nearly 300 yards rushing before suffering a season-ending injury.
The receiving corps is led by Devon Vaughan who has 21 catches for 376 yards and five touchdowns. Justin Watson also has five scores to go with 10 receptions for 320 yards.
Defensively, the Bears have picked off 11 passes this season and recovered 10 fumbles.
In addition to Boone’s picks, Stafone Dickerson has two interceptions and has returned both for scores. Justin Watson has two picks and returned one for a score while Montel Lewter has one “pick six.” Dorrien Askew has the other interception.
Boone, Thomas and Askew lead the team with two fumble recoveries each.
Privott said in preparing for Southern Wayne, he saw a team that could move the football on the ground.
“What we’ve seen on film is they run the wing-t and they are going to run the football,” the coach said. “They have a good fullback.
“I think my biggest concern heading into the game is that we have to be able to stop the run,” he added. “That’s our primary concern.”
To do that, he said the defensive line would have to play well and control the line of scrimmage.
As for the biggest strength for HCHS, Privott said that would come in team speed.
“I think our speed is going to be our biggest asset,” he said.
The Bears will look to add to their five-game winning streak by using that speed at 7:30 p.m. Friday night.