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Gates County prepares for Ayden-Grifton

GATESVILLE – Dance with the one who brought you.

That analogy has been played over and over as a sports metaphor reminding coaches and players to continue to do what helped them reach their current status.

Fourth-year Gates County High School Head Football Coach Matt Biggy needs no such reminder. The coach, who has his team hosting a second round playoff game Friday against Ayden-Grifton, said that’s exactly what he intends to do.

“We’re going to keep doing what we do and work on getting better each week as we have all season,” Biggy said.

Helping with his idea of keeping things the same will be the ability to play in the friendly confines of Red Baron Stadium.

“I’m a big routine person,” the coach said. “At home, we have a set routine where nothing changes. We meet after school, have a pregame meal, watch film and then go to the locker room to get dressed.

“Being at home Friday means we take travel out of the equation,” he said. “We don’t have to worry about getting on a bus to go somewhere or having to find somewhere to eat. We can do what we always do and I hope that will keep us going in the same direction.”

The Red Barons enter Friday’s contest 11-1 this season, having won 11 straight after dropping the season-opener to Hertford County High School by a single point (21-20). Gates County won the Tar-Roanoke Conference with a spotless 6-0 mark in the league.

For the season, the Red Barons are averaging slightly more than 29 points per game while giving up 13 per contest.

The Barons, seeded second in the East, won their North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1-A playoff opener 42-7 Friday over Camden (see story this page.)

Biggy said the 11-game streak didn’t concern him.

“You want to win them all,” he said. “It doesn’t make me nervous at all. Our plan going into the year was to win them all. We’ve played well and worked hard and that’s paying off.”

Ayden-Grifton has been a perennial power in the Carolina 1-A Conference. This season the Chargers are 9-3 overall and finished 4-1 in the conference with their lone loss to league champion Goldsboro (33-6 on Nov. 5).

The Chargers are averaging 31 points per game coming into Friday’s contest and have given up an average of 15.

Biggy said the visiting team was a good one and that Gates County has to be prepared for the contest.

“They’re a good football team,” he said. “They have good size, good athletic ability and play solid defense. They like to run the football and they’re pretty good at it.”

Biggy said the Red Baron defensive line had played well all season and he expected them to do a good job Friday as Gates County tries to stop the Chargers’ running game.

“Our defensive line has played well all year,” he said. “I think they’re a pretty good matchup with anybody we play, but we still have to play well and play hard.”

He said that unit and the offensive line will be key points in Friday’s contest.

“It’s always the offensive and defensive lines,” Biggy stressed. “If you win that battle, it makes the game a lot easier.”

The Red Barons have steadily improved in Biggy’s four years leading Gates County.

Inheriting a rebuilding program, Biggy’s team went 1-10 in 2007 before improving slightly in 2008 to 2-10. Last year, the Barons made the second round of the playoffs and finished the season 6-6.

In his fourth year at the helm, Biggy has guided Gates County to an 11-1 mark, but he gives the credit to the young men on the squad.

“This group of kids is real tight,” he said. “They all kind of hang out together. They hold each other accountable and they work hard.

“You can take an average team with good chemistry and they’re tough to beat,” he added. “When you throw in the fact they work as hard as they do and that makes them even better.”

The coach also credited the Gates County fans with helping the team this season.

“They fans have been loud which plays into our favor,” he added.

Friday night the Barons will have all those things going for them as they face a tough second round challenge with Ayden-Grifton. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.