Football season opens tonight

Published 10:04 am Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hoping to dodge the predicted rain of Friday night, several Roanoke-Chowan area high school football teams are beginning the 2017 season tonight (Thursday): Gates County at Hertford County and Northampton County at Roanoke Rapids. Bertie will still play at Williamston Riverside as scheduled on Friday, as will a revamped Northeast Academy at Cary Christian in 8-man action.


Last year the Bears claimed a 27-0 shutout win at Gatesville, holding the Red Baron offense off the scoreboard.

Tonight it’ll be the same two combatants in the season opener for both teams.

“Gates County is definitely a formidable opponent,” said Hertford County head coach Terrance Saxby. “They have a strong running game and a sound defense. Matt Biggy (GCHS coach) will have them ready to play.”

“The Bears will showcase an explosive offense,” countered Biggy. “They tackle well on defense and they have one of the top players in the area in running back Kyeem Perry.

“We have to keep penalties to a minimum, execute on offense and stay disciplined on defense,” Saxby concluded.

His counterpart in Red-and-White pretty much echoed the same thing of his team.

“We have to sustain drives on offense, make tackles on defense, and just play our game,” closed Biggy.



Last year Bertie broke a four-game losing streak and gave then-first year coach Grantley Mizelle his first-ever win at Roy Bond Jr Stadium when they shocked a 5-0 unbeaten Riverside team, 35-7.

Both Hertford County (in gold) and Northampton County (white jerseys) open 2017 high school football action a day early on Thursday night (tonight) as the Jaguars travel to Roanoke Rapids and the Bears are at home against Gates County. | William Anthony Photography

This Friday night, Bertie travels across the Roanoke River to Williamston for the rematch where Knights coach Asim McGill’s squad will be waiting for the Falcons in much anticipation.

“Riverside has a good receiver and they throw the ball a lot,” said Mizelle. “We have to be ready for their air attack.

“We have to run the ball and keep the clock running just as hard, and play good defense,” concluded Mizelle.



The Jaguars-Yellow Jackets match-up is another one that will kick off the regular season tonight.

Last year, Roanoke Rapids beat Northampton in the season opener for both teams, 42-20. Tonight, the same pair opens another season once again in the River City at Hoyle Field.

“Roanoke Rapids has good balance in passing and running the football,” said Jaguars head coach George Privott. “They are also well-coached and disciplined.

“We have to eliminate turnovers, block well on offense, and protect the football, “closed Privott. “Defensively, we must control their offense.”



Actually, it should be Northeast-Hobgood (Nor-Good isn’t a very good moniker). That’s because this season in Colonial Carolina Conference 8-Man football action Northeast Academy and Hobgood Academy have combined their resources.

“We have been given an opportunity to participate in a pilot co-op 8-Man football program,” said Eagles athletic director Joella Brown. “This will merge Hobgood with Northeast’s football program for the 2017 football season.   This program will allow us to have sufficient numbers to monitor the health and safety of our players.  We look forward to being able to further develop our young student athletes through this exciting time.  We are grateful for the NC Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA) and the CCC for their support and cooperation to allow us to participate in this pilot program.  Both schools, Northeast and Hobgood, encourage their fans to support ‘their’ team.”

The merger was prompted by dwindling numbers in both schools’ football programs, and allows participation for those at both schools who choose to play to strap on the gear and get after it.

Friday night brings the first game ever for newly merged programs and fans’ chance to see this ‘experiment’ when Northeast-Hobgood travels to Cary Christian, a team that struggled through a 2-8 season a year ago.

This will be the season opener for both Northeast-Hobgood and for Cary.