Nansemond River works to gain on the district

Published 8:27 pm Saturday, June 12, 2010

Many parts of last fall were still a struggle for Nansemond River’s football team. As the season went along, though, the young Warriors gained more than experience.

Nansemond River won two of its last four contests, district wins over Indian River and Hickory, and played a number of tight games. Even against perennial powerhouse Oscar Smith, while the final score wound up being an easy Oscar Smith win, the Warriors played the Tigers as well as any other team in the Southeastern in being behind 14-12 until just before halftime.

Simply being another year older achieves part of head coach Tracey Parker’s main offseason goal. Of course, though, lots of time in the weight room and on the practice field is what is needed to make a big difference.

“This offseason we’ve geared everything toward getting bigger, faster and stronger,” Parker said.

“We’re real, real close. Of course, being real close and having it actually come to fruition are two different things,” said Parker, who’s entering his fourth year as the Warrior head coach.

There’s good reason for optimism on an individual level, as well. Most of NR’s skill position players are returning with a year or two of making major contributions.

Kyle Moore, a rising junior, was the Warrior quarterback for most of last season. The Warriors got more production through the air as last fall moved along, which in turn increased what the Warriors did on the ground, mainly through all-district running back Lamont Brown.

Brown’s been the main workhorse for the Warriors for two seasons, so it’s hard to believe he’ll be a junior come next season.

“We asked him to run track this year and he did a great job with it. He’s really increased his speed and endurance this offseason,” Parker said. “It’s something that’s going to pay off for him and the program in the long run.”

On the defensive side, last season started with the Warriors allowing 76 points in their first two contests. The Warriors held five of their last eight opponents to 14 points or less. Their two wins were 14-13 vs. Hickory and 9-0 vs. Indian River.

The Warrior defense is led by rising senior Dewayne Alford. Alford, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound defensive end with a 4.5-second 40-yard time from a recent recruiting camp at Marshall University, is gaining attention from ACC, CAA and other schools. As well as being a great athlete and prospect though, he’s becoming a clear leader, says Parker.

“His work ethic’s been great and the rest of the kids are really feeding into his work ethic. They’re seeing what he’s putting in in order to get better,” Parker said.

“A lot of the time, kids see the coaches just as some old guys, so when they can see what Dewayne’s doing, it goes a long way,” Parker said.

Along with the day-in, day-out summer conditioning, Nansemond River’s hosting an inaugural Fundamentals Football Camp June 28-July 1 from 6-8 p.m. each day. The camp’s open to middle school and high school players and is $40 for the week.

“We have a small pool of athletes here and a lot of our guys have been playing baseball or track or other sports, so it’s good to get them back out here working on football things,” Parker said. “We’re starting to put a better product on the field. If we focus on that and on working hard, the results, the wins and losses, will take care of themselves.”

Nansemond River’s 2010 schedule is a mirror image of 2009. The Warriors face the same 10 squads in the same order, but with the home games and away games flipped, starting on Thursday, Sept. 2 with Grassfield at Arrowhead Stadium.