Final tune-up

Published 9:29 am Thursday, September 15, 2016

As the 2016 high school football season enters week number five, a trio of R-C area schools will face their final non-conference tests of the season, while one will get down to the real matters at hand as they open the conference portion of their schedule.

South Central at Hertford Co.


Hertford County quarterback Lance Hunter leads the Bears offense through four games with 963 passing yards and nine touchdowns. | Next Level Photos / Charles Revelle

Hertford County quarterback Lance Hunter leads the Bears offense through four games with 963 passing yards and nine touchdowns. | Next Level Photos / Charles Revelle

These two teams mirror each other heading into their 7:30 p.m. matchup on Friday at Bears Stadium in Ahoskie. Both stand at 2-2 overall in non-conference action and each are coming off wins last week: Hertford County snapping a two-game slide by defeating Southern Vance while South Central claimed a victory over North Pitt.

“We executed on offense last week and were able to build a big lead early in that game,” said HCHS head coach Terrance Saxby, referencing the win on the road.

Saxby noted that South Central will be more of a threat to his team this week.

“They run the spread option and are very athletic,” he said.

Thus far, the Bears have relied heavily on a passing attack, led by junior quarterback Lance Hunter, who has thrown for 963 yards and nine touchdowns in four games.

“We need to do a better job running the football, that helps open up the passing game,” Saxby stressed.

“Defensively, we need to understand our assignments and stick to them if we are to have any success in stopping South Central’s offense,” he continued. “We also need to cut down on penalties.”

SW Edgecombe at Bertie

These two non-conference rivals are coming off losses last week as they prepare for Friday’s game at Roy Bond Stadium.

Last week, Bertie (1-2 overall) fell on the road at Roanoke Rapids while Southwest Edgecombe (0-4) suffered a setback vs. Nash Central.

Bertie head coach Grantley Mizelle said his team needs to get tougher.

“Roanoke Rapids was much more physical than we were last week,” he stated. “We have to get tougher, mentally and physically.

While football is a physical sport, Mizelle knows mental toughness is just as important, especially against a team like SW Edgecombe that runs the old-fashioned “Wishbone” offense.

“Southwest is a very fundamental team,” the Bertie field boss said. “Don’t look at their record; even though they’re winless to this point, they’re still a very good team.

“We have to play more physical on defense,” Mizelle added. “Offensively we have to execute and take care of the football.”

Friday’s contest marks the start of three straight home games for the Falcons.

Gates County at Mattamuskeet

The Red Barons of Gates County, fresh off an open week on their schedule, will look to benefit from that additional preparation time when they hit the road at Mattamuskeet (2-1) in the Coastal 10 Conference opener for both clubs.

Two weeks ago, Gates County (1-2 overall) ended a two-game slide by defeating non-conference foe Bertie thanks to a last second field goal.

“That was a good win over Bertie,” said GCHS head coach Matt Biggy. “Our defense played better and then our special teams came through for us there at the end.”

Biggy added that his players used the bye week to “heal up and rest up.”

Even though the Red Barons have enjoyed success over Mattamuskeet in recent years, Biggy stressed that his team needs not to look past the Lakers.

“Mattamuskeet runs a spread offense, so we’ve got to pay attention and stick with our defensive game plan,” Biggy remarked. “They’re very active on defense and get after the ball. Plus they have good size.”

The Red Barons skipper said the last second win two weeks ago at Bertie allowed his team to believe in themselves.

“We’ve played better in our last two games; we need to build off that momentum from the Bertie game,” he said.

“We had a good week of practice this week where we seem to be improving in all aspects of our game….we’ll need that improvement as we get into the conference portion of our schedule,” Biggy concluded.

 Northampton at SE Halifax

Last week, Northampton County (1-3) beat Weldon to end a three-game losing streak to begin the season while Southeast Halifax (2-1) lost to North Edgecombe.

“Our defense played great against Weldon,” said Northampton head coach George Privott. “Our special teams scored three touchdowns. It was good to get that first win of the season under our belts.”

As he looks towards the game at Southeast Halifax, Privott said his team needs to be prepared.

“Southeast runs the spread offense and they have very skilled players,” he stated. “We just need to build off what we did right last week. We have to keep improving on offense and defense, and eliminate our turnovers.”

Hobgood Acad. at Lawrence Acad.

Someone will taste their first victory of the season this Friday night in Merry Hill.

There, the home-standing Warriors of Lawrence Academy will host long-time rival Hobgood Academy in a 7 p.m. contest.

Both teams enter the game at 0-3.

Lawrence has not played in three weeks due to a bye week on their schedule and a forfeit.

 Bethel Christian at Northeast Acad.

Northeast Academy returns home this week in search of their first win of the 2016 season.

The Eagles currently stand at 0-3 overall.

They will host Bethel Christian this week. Bethel Christian (1-3) is new to 8-man football and won their first game in school history last Friday night