2017 Northeastern Football Preview: Eagles look to ride ‘just win’ mentality
Northeastern will rely on a team effort this season
By Craig Moyer
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Northeastern’s head coach Antonio Moore is avoiding focusing on any individual player, as he knows it takes a team effort to attain their goal of a state championship this season.
Moore spoke with The Daily Advance Friday about how last season’s exit in the third round of the state playoffs was a let down for his team and has motivated them to work harder as they prepare for the upcoming season.
“We look to go to the eastern finals every year and from that game anything can happen to make it to the state championship, so we underachieved last year going to the third round and we are still really upset about that,” Moore said.
Even with the loss of a talented group of seniors off last seasons team, including All-Area players Trey Sawyer, Tyleik Overton, Nick Golden and Timon Stallings, the Eagles return a large group of talented upperclassmen.
The Eagles return three All-Area players from last season, including Treveon Freshwater, JaCori Shaw and J.R. Walker, as well as several other contributors on both sides of the ball from last season’s team.
Moore has seen an improvement in his team’s senior leadership, as he said he does not have to bring up last season’s playoff exit, but instead his players remind each other of the loss as motivation.
“Senior leadership has emerged even greater after that loss last year in the third round, they are doing a really good job of leading this team in the preseason,” he said.
Moore believes every player on his team is a standout, as he does not want to focus on any individuals and wants to maintain the mentality that a team effort is needed to win.
“This year I am trying to not talk about individual kids, I just want them to get out there and play as a team,” Moore said. He then added, “The model we have this year is just win and it takes everybody to win.”
Northeastern will host a tough opponent in Greenville’s 3A D.H. Conley in the opening game of the season on Aug. 18, as the Vikings are lead by quarterback Holton Ahlers, a East Carolina University commit.
Moore believes a tough non-conference schedule is important for preparing his team for a deep run in the playoffs, as well as providing an early challenge for his team.
Moore also knows an opening game against the Vikings, who averaged over 50 points per game last season, is a great test for his defense, who only allowed 17 points per game last season, but is still looking to improve.
“We want to play the best, we want an early test, I want to see how hungry our guys are at the start of the season, we know if you want to be around in the end defense does it, we want to get back to the state championship and I want an early test for our defense,” he said.
During the off season, the Eagles’ defense has been hitting the weight room and incorporating new schemes in order to become even more difficult for opposing offenses than last season.
“We are trying to get more enthusiasm on the defense side of the ball, we are trying to get more motivated, I want the defense to have a little bit more pep in their step,” Moore said.
One burning question heading in to the Eagles’ season is who will win the battle at the quarterback position, as returning starters Walker and Damar Sutton, as well as Perquimans’ transfer Dallas Hall are all vying for plays behind center this season.
Moore was quick to say there is no ‘quarterback battle,’ as all three players have been impressive during practice and he expects them to share the responsibility during the season.
“It is whoever I put in at that time, there could be certain reasons why one guy might play, it all depends on what is going on,” Moore said.
After the Eagles’ tough opening game against D.H. Conley, they travel to Norfolk, Virginia for a game against Norview, who reached the semifinal of the 5A Virginia state playoffs last season.
Another highlight of Northeastern’s schedule is a rematch with Edenton, who eliminated the Eagles from the playoffs last season, on Sept. 22 at home.