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Pirates' JV creates optimism in program

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Perquimans' coach Jonathan Nixon (second left) will oversee the incoming freshmen players into the Perquimans football program.

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By David Gough
Sports Writer

Friday, August 10, 2018

For the first time in a long time, the Perquimans football program has a junior varsity team.

The Pirates are getting a pretty good group of kids for their first JV team in decades.

Most of the 21 incoming freshmen joining the JV group played for last year’s Perquimans Middle School team.

Those Tigers went undefeated winning the conference championship. They did so by beating River Roads Middle School twice.

They beat a Rockets team, that’s been a powerhouse at the middle school level for years, by two in their first meeting and then 42-0 in the championship.

“Second time, we came out mentally prepared and ready. We already knew what we had to do,” quarterback Amarion Hunter said.

That season came after a year in which the Tigers didn’t win a whole lot.

“It was crazy,” running back E.J. Gatling said. “We knew we had a chance with hard work and a lot of practice. We really believed in each other.”

Turning around and making large improvements the next season is the kind of theme that new varsity head coach Randy Awrey hopes continues within the Perquimans program as the incoming freshmen get older.

Awrey takes over a team that finished 2-9 last season.

“As those young men grow into the varsity level, that’s going to help us down the road,” he said.

To go along with the 21 freshmen, there are also 13 sophomores in the football program dispersed among JV and varsity. That’s double the amount of upperclassmen in the program with six seniors and 11 juniors.

Joining the JV program as head coach is John Nixon, formerly a coach at Edenton, and he is optimistic about the short-term and long-term future of the program.

“We got the numbers right now for both a JV team and a varsity team,” Nixon said. “That’s huge for this school. When you look at the schools around here that are successful, they have a JV program and the kids are learning early.”

Nixon says it’ll improve the football program in a couple ways.

There’s likely going to be a significant number of players in the program from each grade level as time goes on and varsity players will no longer feel outsized.

“The reason we only have six seniors is because they got their heads beat in as freshmen,” Nixon said. “Now, they’re allowed to grow instead of being a man right now, today. When you get on that field, there’s a big difference between a 14 year old and a 17 year old.”

The games themselves haven’t started yet, but Nixon likes a lot about the junior varsity kids that he’ll be coaching this season.

For him, he doesn’t think it will be too difficult to get through to any of them.

“They seem to be very athletic and well-coached in the past,” Nixon said. “They’re willing to do anything we ask of them. That’s the main thing. They’re coachable kids. They’re bringing the excitement and their heart to the field.”

The former Tigers are hoping for more of the same success as Pirates. The undefeated championship season in middle school makes them hungry to continue the success this year in junior varsity and as they eventually move up to varsity.

The bond they already had as a team should be a big contributor to future success.

“That’s going to help a lot because all of us, we know how each other plays,” Hunter said. “We’ve pretty much known each other since kindergarten.”

Hunter hopes that the junior varsity team can have similar success to what he experienced last year and go undefeated. But he and his teammates know how much more work they need to put in as they get older if they want to help create a winning environment at Perquimans down the road.

“It’s exciting because we know what we can do,” Gatling said. “We know we have a lot of work to put in. We’re just trying to get better.”

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