Fourth and Long

Published 10:53 am Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I had an opportunity to cover a Bertie football game last weekend. It was the first game I have been able to see since Greg Watford took over the program and I have to admit it was quite a treat despite the outcome.

Here are a few observations and opinions.

I love the uniforms. The unis look great and it was nice to see the big B on the side of the helmet. It brought back some fond memories.

The sideline is much different than in years past. There are less coaches and less commotion. Coach Watford’s coaching style is different than his predecessors and it shows.

The sidelines at Bertie games used to be high energy and high volume, that has since been replaced with a more controlled and businesslike approach. While less spirited it is impressive to see players discussing schemes and adjustments with each other and the coaching staff.

Having said that, I do wish the sideline would cheer on the players on the field, particularly on defense. A lot of teams have stopped doing this and I don’t understand why.

I love it when players keep their helmets on at all times and apparently the Bertie coaching staff feels the same way. It is a pet peeve of mine and it was a delight to see that I am not alone in this. Sideline players should be prepared to run in at all times and Bertie’s players were.

I loved seeing several parents and fans had made the trip to Swansboro to support the team. Like support from the sidelines, cheers from the bleachers make more of a difference than anyone who has never played can know.

It is my understanding that before the game the team got to see the aquarium and Fort Macon. For some of these young men it was the first time ever seeing the ocean.

I also understand that the Falcons are trying to go to Florida to play next year. This is a great idea and I hope the school and community can make it happen. That trip will be the first chance some of these young men will get to see people and places not in North Carolina. It should be a valuable learning opportunity.

As far as what I saw on the field, a few things stood out.

Bertie’s interior line defense is fairly stout.

Screens and slants are their friend on offense, if they could get a legitimate deep threat it will go a long way in helping the running game by not allowing opposing teams to stick 8 players in the “box.”

One player that stood out to me was Jonathan Wilson. While small in stature, he reminds me of a Maurice Jones-Drew in the way he runs. He is a north-south back with the ball in his hands and he runs hard. He was fun to watch.

Speaking of fun it was nice being on the sideline again, I have missed it.

David Friedman is a long-time contributor to Roanoke-Chowan Publications. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at