Home, sweet home

Published 1:22 pm Thursday, August 10, 2017

GASTON – After Hurricane Irene damaged the bleachers at what was then Gaston Middle School – now Northampton County High School – it forced the school’s football games to be played in Creeksville last season, though the school’s campus had moved.

Now, as Jaguar players prepare for 2017 they know they’ll be playing at the same site as where they regularly attend school because the bleachers at Creeksville have now migrated west to a new field.

Last year the Jags ended their football season with a 7-7 overall record after a roller-coaster year in which they lost their first three games, but also featured a pair of three-game win streaks – including one such run in Two-Rivers Conference play which earned them a way into the NCHSAA playoffs. Once there, Northampton made it to the third round before falling to Southside in the 1A Eastern semi-finals.

This year head coach George Privott and the Jaguars will move to a new conference: the Tar-Roanoke.

Offensively, Northampton’s top returnees are Tevon Shoulders, a junior quarterback, and a couple of seniors in the backfield with him: fullback Javontae Hicks and halfback Angelo Rooks.

“Our offense returns its entire starting backfield,” said Privott. But we lost three seniors from our offensive line. We will have to rebuild our line.”

The Jaguars defense will also feature that same trio playing both ways. Shoulders will be at safety, Hicks will be a linebacker, and Rooks will play defensive end.

“Defensively, we will move some people around,” Privott added. “We also have a linebacker void. Once we fill everybody in we will be alright.”

Much as they did in 2015, the Jags open the season playing their first three games on the road: August 18 at Roanoke Rapids, Aug. 25 in Windsor at Bertie, and September 1 at Warren County.

Northampton’s home opener will be Sept. 8 against former Two Rivers Conference foe Williamston Riverside before a Sept. 15 home date with 2016 1A finalist, Plymouth.

The Jaguars open conference play on Sept. 22 against Rocky Mount Prep at Rocky Mount, then remain on the road a week later closing out the month at North Edgecombe on Sept. 29.

October opens with Southeast Halifax visiting Northampton on October 6. Two more road dates follow: at Northwest Halifax on Oct. 13 and at KIPP Pride on Oct. 20. After an open date on the 27th, the Jags will host Weldon November 3 in the regular season finale. The state playoffs begin on Nov. 10.

“We have a very tough non-conference schedule. We open with three 2A schools in the Yellow Jackets, Bertie, and Warren County – all on the road. We also play two good 1A teams in Riverside and Plymouth. They should prepare us for conference,” said Privott.

“We look forward to playing in our new conference. We will play more local teams in Weldon, Southeast Halifax, KIPP Pride, and Northwest Halifax,” he added.

“Our goal is to win the conference championship and have home games in the state playoffs,” the coach concluded. “Last year all our state playoff games were away. We also want to make a run deep into the playoffs.”