Stevens: Don't overreact to Hillside’s 0-2 start

09/01/2014 5:40 PM

09/02/2014 6:30 AM

Durham Hillside’s 0-2 start means just about nothing. All teams that finish 0-11 start 0-2, but there have been lots of teams that rebounded after poor starts to have good seasons.

The Hornets’ stumbles have come against quality opposition. They lost to New Bern 12-0 in the opener and lost to Southern Durham 16-13 last week.

Hillside’s offense has a lot of work to do, but otherwise nothing really has changed much since the preseason when the Hornets were the heavy conference favorite in the PAC Six 4A. The team still has aspirations of contending for a state championship.

“The (Southern) game is good for the kids because they all know each other, but since they are no longer in the conference, it’s just another game,” Hillside coach Antonio King said before Friday’s loss. “Our main focus is always on winning the PAC Conference and making the playoffs.”

There is little question that Hillside remains one of the top teams in the area. King put the loss in perspective quickly after the game.

“It (loss) was disappointing, but our season is in no way over. We can still win the PAC conference and make the playoffs. I predict we will be playing in December,” said Hornet tackle Emanuel McGirt.

The Hornets, at 0-2, look even more like the league favorite than they did in the preseason. No other league team has won a game either.

The Hornets’ playoff seeding has been damaged, and might be damaged further by non-conference matchups against Greensboro Dudley (2-0), at Charlotte Country Day (1-0) and Nash Central (0-2), but Hillside still is expected to advance to the 4A playoffs as the PAC Six champion.

Hillside is open this week and King has time to reinvigorate the team and restore its confidence before a tough assignment against Dudley.

Bunn coach David Howle said he had much the same task a year ago. The Wildcats played four good teams to open the season and lost three of them.

“I had to be concerned about how the team felt about itself,” Howle said. “I kept telling them that we were going to be fine. I was hoping that they were hearing what I was saying. We were going to be all right. We had to keep working and get better, but we could still meet most of our goals.”

Bunn finished 9-5, winning six of their past seven regular-season games.

“The big key was to keep the team believing that we were a good team,” Howle said recently. “I knew we were good and that we were getting better. There just wasn’t much positive reinforcement. The kids had to believe that if we kept working, the results would improve.”

Sanderson coach Ben Kolstad’s club is 0-2 also despite its defense having allowed only two touchdowns this season. The Spartans aren’t the Cap Eight favorites because of the caliber of Millbrook and Wake Forest, but despite Sanderson’s start, it still looks like a playoff contender.

Don’t forget that Wake Forest limped along through much of the 2013 season and advanced as the No. 4 seed from the league. The Cougars reached the state 4AA finals.

Erwin Triton and Corinth Holders still are playoff-caliber teams, but you might not guess it looking at their 0-2 starts.

But 0-2 starts can be deceptive. Just look at Hillside.

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