High School Football Media Day

Published 10:34 am Monday, August 1, 2016

ELIZABETH CITY – The Kings are still on the throne.

Area media members listened to football coaches and players from the 2A Northeastern Coastal Conference (NCC) and the 1A Coastal 10 Conference discuss the upcoming season here Friday morning and there was one general consensus.

The top-dogs from a season ago are expected to still rule the roost again in 2016.

Defending state 1A champ, Plymouth, was a unanimous pick to capture their seventh straight conference title, dating back to their time on the old 4-Rivers Conference. The Vikings capped off the 2015 season with a perfect 7-0 record in conference en route to their 14-2 overall mark and a 28-20 win over Robbinsville for the state championship. This season, the Vikes are expected to be just as formidable.

“Our players are very coachable,” said veteran coach Robert Cody. “We lack size this year, but we plan to work hard to get better each week.

The Vikings open with two road dates: Northeastern and Williamston Riverside before their home opener against Edenton Holmes.

The Gates County Red Barons are picked to finish second in the Coastal-10 in several polls. Coach Matt Biggy’s squad finished fourth in the league last season after dropping three of their last four games. Still, they made the playoffs and finished 5-7 after falling to Granville Central in the first round of the post-season.

This year, the Red Barons open with three NCC foes in non-conference action beginning with Hertford County Aug. 19. They will end the season at home against the defending champs.

“The top of our conference is just really good,” Biggy said. “Plymouth’s been to the state championship game for four straight seasons, winning it all last year. If we’re sitting there in the end as the two top teams in the conference then we’ll finish the year with a conference championship game.”

“They’ve got me down at cornerback and I’ll also play some receiver,” said senior Robert Walker, who will emerge from the shadows at tailback this season with the graduation of Mark Ricks. “I don’t have a problem carrying the load, but I do get tired, so I can use the help.”

Hertford County was the last team to knock Northeastern off the top perch in the NCC; making six straight seasons the Eagles have either won or tied for the league lead. Despite improvements across the board in the conference, coach Antonio Moore’s squad are expected to be the last team standing again (6-0) at the end of October; but hope for a better ending than last year’s heartbreaker at the hands of Kinston in the 2A Eastern finals.

“Our season actually started in June with three camps, including East Carolinas’s, then the 7-on-7 competition this month,” Moore stated. “We don’t want anyone to give us anything; we want to work for it because that’s how we’ll appreciate it in the end.”

Hertford County was picked second in the NCC behind the Eagles and the Bears remember the bitter ending to their season in 2015 at the hands of Northeastern and they want to use that as incentive.

“Yeah, we’re hungry, we’re ready to play,” said Bears’ senior wide receiver Jaquarii Roberson. “We lost to Northeastern twice and we’re coming to get them.”

Third-year Bears Coach Terrance Saxby says despite losing a third of his offense to graduation his team will have more speed this season.

“We make no pretense about it,” Saxby said. “We plan on throwing the football and if we don’t get the match-up we’re going to run it. It’s real simple for me, we’re going to speed up the game and just go from there.”

Bertie was picked as high as second in one poll under new Coach Grantley Mizelle, who is returning to his roots after three seasons of success at South Creek in Robersonville. With a 3-8 finish a year ago, if the Falcons can catch flight, then the sky’s the limit.

“A lot of changes are going on, and in our community people are getting excited again about football,” Mizelle declared. “Right now the excitement is coming back, and that’s important to me because I live it. Because I coached these kids in jayvee (junior varsity), I didn’t have to develop relationships I had to renew relationships.”

Organized practices begin Monday (Aug. 1) with the season kicking off for several teams in less than three weeks (Aug. 19).