Air Strike!

Published 10:06 am Thursday, August 4, 2016

GATESVILLE – Last year Gates County High School finished their season 5-7 and 4-3 in the Coastal 10 Conference before being eliminated in the first round of the state 1A Football Playoffs to Granville Central.

This year the Red Barons will be led on offense by senior running back Robert Walker.

“We are expecting big things from him,” said Gates County coach Matt Biggy. “

The ‘Barons quarterback will be young again: sophomore Jawan Riddick – who started every GCHS game as a ninth-grader. The offensive line will be led by senior center Nolan Toti.

“We have experience in the offensive backfield, but are young on the offensive line,” Biggy continued. . “We’re still young this year, but we’re young and more experienced. We started a bunch of freshmen last year and this year those guys are all sophomores.”

The Gates defense will be led by senior linebacker Derion Godwin and senior defensive end Will Leary, with Walker starting at cornerback.

“We’re really looking for improvement here as the defense gave up a lot of big plays last year,” the coach added. “We also expect our defense to be more fundamentally sound. We know that was an area where we got hurt. We were young there last year and now we’re a year older and a year better. Sometimes it’s not about speed, but keeping your eyes on the ball and making a play.”

Gates County will open the season at home Aug. 19 against Hertford County, and then face another 2A Northeastern Coastal Conference foe the following Friday night (Aug. 26) with a home game against Pasquotank. On Sept. 2, the ‘Barons face their final NCC foe in Bertie on the road.

After an open date (Sept. 9), Gates will begin C-10 conference play on Sept. 16 in Hyde County at Mattamuskeet. Sept. 23 will find Gates still on the road at Creswell before returning to Gatesville for their conference home opener against Perquimans. Oct. 7 has the ‘Barons on the road in their last non-conference tilt: against Northeast Carolina Prep. Manteo will make the trip from the Outer Banks to the Inner Banks Oct.14 to face Gates in a home contest. Oct. 21 has Gates at Columbia; then they have their two biggest conference rivals at home to end the season with Camden County in Gatesville Oct. 28, followed by Plymouth on Nov.4, one week before the 1A state playoffs begin on Nov. 11.

“We have a tough non-conference schedule as Hertford County, Bertie, and Pasquotank are all strong,” Biggy acknowledged. “They will be great competition to prepare us for our conference schedule.

“In our league, Plymouth is the team to beat,” Biggy would add. “They won the state championship last year and Manteo, Perquimans, and Camden County will also be tough.

“We’re looking forward to the season,” Biggy concluded. “We want to improve each day and at the end of the season we want to be in the running for a state playoff berth.