“Bear Market”

Published 10:50 am Thursday, July 28, 2016

AHOSKIE – Last year Hertford County High School ended its football season with a 9-4 overall record and a 5-1 mark in Northeastern Coastal Conference play. The Bears’ season concluded in the second round of the NC High School Athletic Association playoffs in a heartbreaking loss to league rival, Northeastern.

This year HCHS returns 15 starters from that team and looks to keep climbing ever higher. Seven of those returnees will be on offense, and eight others on defense.

Offensively, the top returner is senior wide receiver Jaquarii Roberson, whose becoming a hot commodity among several major college programs. Roberson collected 1,480 yards in receptions in 2015 and scored 19 touchdowns.

Joining Roberson will be junior running back Kyeem Perry. Perry was the team’s leading rusher a season ago with 1,504 yards gained on the ground, and he accounted for 18 Bear touchdowns.

While graduation reduced some of the bulk on the Bears’ offensive line, there will still be plenty of size up front, albeit a bit young. Senior left tackle Chuck Lee will be returning for his final campaign along with junior right guard Braxton Williams and junior center Jarrett Sexton. Another pair of Bear letterman – both juniors – will also see plenty of playing time: Keivon Harrell at tackle and Joshua Wolverton at guard.

Third-year coach Terrance Saxby will be looking to find someone to fill the shoes of departed quarterback Christian Folston, who accounted for nearly a third of the Bears’ offense a season ago. Currently, three players are competing to get the starting spot under center: senior Da’andre Beverly, junior Lance Hunter, and sophomore Jalen Davis.

“Our offense is athletic and we have experience at every position but quarterback,” said Saxby.

Among the eight standouts returning for Hertford County on defense, the linebacking corps will be led by senior Alex Maxbauer. New to the position will be senior Demintress Freeman, who played on the line a year ago.

On the defensive line will be seniors Greg Harrell and Destined Alfred, along with junior tackle Cortay Stephens. The defensive backfield will be headed by Beverly and Treyveyon Bloodworth, both seniors.

“Our defense will be fast, physical, and very aggressive,” Saxby said.

The Bears open their season on the road this season, crossing the Chowan River to meet Gates County High on August 19. Their home opener follows a week later against Wilson Hunt on August 26. Two more non-conference road contests follow: at Rocky Mount on Sept. 2 and at Southern Vance on Sept. 9. Hertford County’s final non-league match-up is a home date with South Central on Sept. 16.

Northeastern Coastal Conference play begins Sept. 23 at Bear Stadium versus Currituck County. That game will be followed by a road contest against Edenton Holmes on Sept 30, the final year the Aces will be a 2A member of the conference.

October action opens with bitter rival, Bertie, coming to Bear Stadium on Oct. 7 before a trip to Elizabeth City at Pasquotank on Oct. 14. Following an open date on Oct. 21, the Bears will welcome defending conference champ, Northeastern, to town on Oct. 28 before ending their regular season on the road in Kill Devil Hills against First Flight on Nov. 4. The state playoffs begin a week later on Nov. 11.

“The non-conference schedule is very tough,” added Saxby. “Rocky Mount and Wilson Hunt are perennially good, and we also have to face Gates County and South Central.

“In the conference there are new coaches and new faces, but Northeastern will still be the team to beat. Edenton is always strong, Bertie is improved, and Currituck and First Flight will be tough,” Saxby said.

“We’re excited to get started,” the coach concluded. “We have a good mix of experience and young talent. There��s no limit for this team as long as they work hard.”