The last six weeks have eventful for Keith Byrum and Wilson’s Hunt football team, even when nothing was happening. Previous Warriors head coach and athletics director Stevie Hinnant resigned, and the team went three weeks in the summer without a successor.
“That waiting around was hard on the coaches as well as the players,” said Byrum, who was promoted to head coach three weeks ago. “We went through a period of time of uncertainty ... (but now) the kids are ready to rock-and-roll.”
The Warriors, winners of five of the last seven Big East 3A Conference titles, were third last year. While Byrum still tries to fill assistant coach positions, a major key will be staying united.
“We’ve got to stay tight and count on each other all the time in everything that we do because having been a team that’s usually been picked pretty high in our area, we have a target on our back,” Byrum said. “A lot of these teams that are tired of Hunt doing well, they’re going to be hoping this is the year Hunt stumbles and fall and we can’t let that happen. And the only team that can control that is us.”
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Any changes coming with the new hire?
Byrum was the associate head coach last year and doesn’t have plans to shake up too much this close to the season. Hunt will still run the Pro-I, though Byrum isn’t quite as adamant about staying in it as some of his predecessors.
Who are some players to watch?
Tae Davis has spent almost all four years on the varsity and will once again play running back and cornerback, but do it more often.
“We’ve not tried not to overload him every year, but now that he’s a senior, we’ve gone ahead and told him ‘Be prepared to be on the field every play.’ Our little bit of time to learn-as-we-go – it’s over,” Byrum said.
Cam Hill is a three-year starter at receiver and defensive back. Ny’saiah Allen and Jah’Quan Miller lead the line, where Gary Kitchen departed, making the unusual move from offensive guard to fullback.
Can Hunt sustain defensive prowess?
Only 3A champ Rocky Mount hung more than 21 points on the Warriors all year. The defensive line and secondary are solid, so it comes down to the linebackers.
“We’ve been very fast and we had some guys playing middle linebacker who were very fast and very instinctive,” Byrum said. “The linebacking corps right now is raw, but the kids we’re going to work there, they’re young. If they can do the job, they can do the job for a number of years.”
More on the Warriors
Last year: 9-4 (3-2 Big East 3A), 3AA second round
Five-year average: 10-3 (4-1)
Preseason N&O rank: No. 21
Offense: Pro-I, multiple
Defense: 4-4, 4-2-5
Coaches: Keith Byrum (head coach/RBs/DBs), James Parker (junior varsity/Def. coordinator), Richie Pridgen (OL/DL), Paul Willoughby (WRs)
Contributors: Michael Ellis (Sr., QB), Tae Davis (Sr., RB/WR/CB), Isaiah Watson (Soph., RB/DB), Gary Kitchen (Sr., FB/DL), Cam Hill (Sr., WR/DB), Ny’saiah Allen (Sr., OL/DL), Jah’Quan Miller (Sr., OL/DL)
The main number: 14.8 – Hunt limited teams to just 14.8 points per game. Only one opponent scored more than 21 points.
Aug. 19 at Lumberton, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 26 at Hertford County, 7 p.m.
Sep. 1# at Corinth Holders, 7 p.m.
Sep. 9 vs. Northeastern, 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 16 vs. Currituck County, 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 23 vs. Beddingfield, 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 30 BYE
Oct. 7* vs. Northern Nash, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14* vs. Rocky Mount, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21* at Southern Nash, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28* at Nash Central, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4* vs. Fike, 7 p.m.
Note: *Conference game; #Thursday game