At the start of September, Seaforth was still looking for its first win as a varsity program. But now, at the start of October, the Hawks have two wins on their resume.
The second came last Thursday, as Seaforth came from behind to defeat Chatham Central, 30-20, on the road. According to head coach Terrance Gary, the Hawks’ attention to detail is what made the difference in the end.
“We had a sit-down talk at the beginning of the week about some things we wanted to focus on as a team, as a whole,” he said. “They showed it this week in practice, and thankfully it showed up in the game. It was mainly just focusing on holding people accountable.”
Seaforth (2-5, 2-1 Conf.) started the night playing from behind, as the Bears (1-5, 1-1 Conf.) drove down the field on their opening possession and scored on a three-yard run by junior Devonte Johnson to make it 6-0 midway through the first quarter.
The Hawks responded with a touchdown of their own, as sophomore quarterback Joshua Brown scrambled and found junior Ethan Becker for a 58-yard score, but it wasn’t long before Central retook the lead on another short touchdown run by Johnson.
Trailing 14-6, the Hawks could have let momentum get away from them, but instead, they rallied to score the next 10 points and entered the locker room at halftime with a 16-14 lead. Chatham Central wouldn’t go away quietly, though, scoring on its first drive of the second half to take a 20-16 lead, which would be its last of the game.
Central’s second-half touchdown also came from Johnson, who scored three times Thursday and has 388 yards and five touchdowns on 67 carries so far this season.
Like they had most of the night, the Hawks answered back with a long drive that eventually wound up inside the Bears’ 10-yard line. On second down, Brown took the snap and had to evade several Central defenders, but he managed to find a window of open space and threw a three-yard touchdown pass to fellow sophomore Walt Entrekin to put Seaforth up 23-20.
Brown, who also threw two touchdowns in Seaforth’s win over Jordan-Matthews in Week 5, has impressed Gary with his growth as a quarterback so far this season.
“He’s catching up, and the game speed is slowing down for him,” Gary said. “Making that transition from JV to varsity is a big leap. People are bigger and faster. The playbook is a bit more complicated. You have to analyze more and try to make an emphasis of not telling him what to do and letting him make decisions on his own.”
Things quickly turned from good to great for the Hawks, who managed to force a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and recovered the ball at the Central 35-yard line. From there, Seaforth burned some time off the clock before putting the game away with a four-yard touchdown run by sophomore Broden Jones.
“The guys know that if we continue to grind, good things will happen,” Gary said of the fortuitous turnover. “We had a gameplan that I can’t really get into details about, but it paid off. The guys were excited about it. They know most of the things we do are on us. We have to hold ourselves accountable.”
At 2-1 in conference play, the Hawks are in second place in the league standings behind North Moore. The Hawks will have their chance to take first place this Friday, as they go on the road to take on the undefeated Mustangs (6-0, 2-0 Conf.).
Chatham Central, meanwhile, is back at home this Friday as it hosts Graham. The Bears lost last year’s meeting to the Red Devils, 41-6.
North Moore 67, Jordan-Matthews 7
Jordan-Matthews ran into a buzzsaw last Thursday at home against North Moore. Playing an undefeated Mustangs team, the Jets were overmatched and ended up losing by 60 points.
North Moore didn’t attempt a pass in the game, instead relying on 10 different ball-carriers to rack up 329 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. The Mustangs jumped out to a 35-0 lead after the first quarter and never looked back.
Defensively, North Moore also intercepted two passes, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and it also scored off a 53-yard fumble return. The 60-point victory is the Mustangs’ largest of the season so far.
The Jets, who are 0-7 on the season and 0-3 in conference play, have been outscored by an average of 43.6 points per game. Jordan-Matthews will try to snap its losing streak this Friday on the road against Cummings, which is 3-2 on the season.
J-M and Cummings have played seven times since 2009, with the Cavaliers winning five of those games. Last fall, Cummings defeated the Jets, 57-0, at Jordan-Matthews.
More than midway through the regular season, only two Chatham County football teams look like viable playoff candidates: Northwood and Seaforth.
The Chargers, who play at the 3A level and are currently 3-4 overall, made last year’s playoffs with a record of 4-5 overall and 2-3 in conference play, though they were one of the final few teams to earn an at-large bid.
For Northwood to feel good about its playoff chances this season it will need to win at least one of its final three games. That would put the Chargers firmly on the bubble, but two wins and a 5-5 record at the end of the regular season would obviously be more appealing to the playoff selection committee.
Seaforth, meanwhile, is in solid position as things stand with a 2-1 record in conference play, but things are about to become much more difficult for the Hawks over the coming weeks.
The Hawks’ final three opponents of the regular season, North Moore, Cummings and Bartlett Yancey, have a combined record of 13-5 so far this season. Seaforth will likely need two wins to end the regular season with a 4-6 record and have a solid chance at making the 2A state tournament.
Sports Editor Jeremy Vernon can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @jbo_vernon.