Falcons prepare for 2017 football season

Published 9:49 am Thursday, August 3, 2017

WINDSOR – Ready to take flight.

Last year just when Bertie High’s football team finally was beginning to jell and get some momentum, along came the end of the regular season.

This time second-year head coach Grantley Mizelle wants things to be different – in a more positive way, of course.

Bertie defensive assistant coach Mike Dail demonstrates tackling technique to a Falcons player at practice. Bertie will stage their annual Blue-White scrimmage at Roy Bond Jr. Stadium on Aug.8.

“Lot of sleepless nights for me last year,” Mizelle said at the NENC High School Football Media Day in Elizabeth City last week. “We went through two floods, 12 injuries, a week when our whole field was underwater, and we just had to keep fighting. At the end of the day we knew they were going to play us on Friday, so we couldn’t have self-pity.”

The Falcons finished their football season at 5-7 and 3-3 in the 2A Northeastern Coastal Conference.  Bertie won their opener then proceeded to go on a four-game losing slide.

“I’d never been on a four-game skid,” Mizelle recalled. “You kind of look yourself in the mirror and reach out to people who’ve been there.”

Bertie re-grouped and went on to win four of its last six games to make the post-season before falling to South Columbus in the first round of the NCHSAA playoffs.

This year the Falcons will be led offensively by sophomore quarterback Isaiah Williams, who’ll be joined in the backfield by a couple of senior running backs: Marcus Philyaw and Lacurtis Askew.

Always known for their “Beefers” up front, Bertie will sport a smaller, but quicker and more effective offensive line. Leading it will be seniors Jamarii Satterwhite and Damian Griffin.  Next to that pair will be sophomores James Brooks and Logan Dunlow.

The Falcon wide receivers will be seniors Nate Cherry and Jordan Morning, with junior Darius Rascoe at tight end.

Mizelle says he will run the triple option offense, and he does mean ‘run’.

“We will run the ball to set up the pass,” he remarked.

The Falcon defense will be led by junior defensive tackle Keyuntra Lee while the other defensive tackle will be senior Montavious Brown.  The linebacking corps will be led by senior Nate Cheeseboro and juniors Oscar Jones and Emonte Mebane, while senior Devontae White will be at defensive end.  Defensive backs will be senior Melic Wilson and junior Chris Cooper.

“Our defense will be good against the run and we want to develop a pass defense,” said Mizelle. “We want to play physical.”

Bertie will open the season August 18 in Williamston against Riverside. The Falcons’ home opener follows a week later, August 25, against Northampton County.

Bertie will play at Gates County to open September on the 1st, then host former conference foe Edenton Holmes on September 8.  They will travel to Washington September 15 before hosting Manteo on September 22 to end the non-conference portion of their schedule.

Coach Mizelle says Bertie will run the triple-option this fall. Here, running back prospects go through a gauntlet in practice to get used to the hitting they’ll experience in games.

After an open date to close September on the 29th, NCC league play begins on the road in Kill Devil Hills October 6 against First Flight.  Bertie will then host Pasquotank at Roy Bond, Jr. Stadium on October 13 for Homecoming.

The Falcons will travel to Elizabeth City for a game with Northeastern on October 20, then play their road finale on October 27 at Currituck.  The regular season will end back in Windsor on November 3 against bitter rival Hertford County.  The state playoffs begin November 10.

“Our non-conference schedule is very tough this year,” reasoned Mizelle. “We play Edenton, Washington, Riverside, and Manteo.  We also play Gates County and Northampton.  These opponents will all make us better for our conference games.

“In the conference, everybody is a good team; you can’t take a Friday night off,” the coach explained. “Everybody will be chasing Hertford County and Northeastern.

“Our goal is to compete and win the conference championship,” said Mizelle. “We’re going to take the season one game at a time and hopefully make the state playoffs.”