PITTSBORO — On the surface, Seaforth’s 20-0 victory over Jordan-Matthews on Friday had all the markings of a typical high school football game.
Many players played both ways, and missed tackles and miscommunication led to explosive plays that made up the majority of the scoring. But when the game clock hit zero in this Friday night lights matchup, the celebration from the Hawks (1-4, 1-0 Mid-Carolina) hinted at the deeper meaning behind the win.
With Seaforth’s offense assembling in the victory formation as the clock wound down, the maroon and white crowd roared to its feet. The entire Seaforth roster then proceeded to rush to the sideline, jumping up and down in excitement. A Gatorade cooler was overturned — presumably on head coach Terrance Gary, who was visibly soaked following the game.
For the Seaforth Hawks, Friday didn’t mark just any win — it was the program’s first victory as a varsity football team.
After opening its doors in August 2021, Seaforth competed at the junior varsity level last fall, going 6-3 under the leadership of Gary, After Friday’s win, Gary said his team’s performance after an 0-4 start to the 2022 season is “a relief.”
“It’s been very stressful,” he said of building the program from scratch. “Very gratifying too, at the same time.”
For Gary, building the team was especially challenging given the lack of middle school football programs in the Chatham County area.
“A lot of these kids haven’t played before,” he said. “Just seeing them grow into men, I just can’t wait until senior year and see how they turn out and just mature as football players, learn how to deal with contact and things like that.”
Perhaps nobody on the Hawks roster displayed more maturity on Friday night than sophomore quarterback Joshua Brown.
Brown championed the Seaforth offense, initiating several explosive plays that led to Hawks’ touchdowns in dire circumstances. Two of his passes, one to junior Ethan Becker and another to sophomore Alex Hinchman, went for an 84- and 64-yard touchdown, respectively.
“He made better decisions tonight,” Gary said about Brown’s play. “We’ve been talking about making decisions and not trying to force things, so decision-making’s what we’ve been trying to, I’ve been yelling at him a lot about making better decisions.”
Decision-making was emphasized heading into Seaforth’s game against Jordan-Matthews. It’s also something that Gary’s sophomore-heavy roster has struggled with while playing against more experienced competition.
Competing against notably more mature and athletic teams this season, Gary is encouraging his team to make the easy plays.
“Just making the right decision to get our ball to our play-makers and let them make a play,” he said. “A five-yard pass that still goes for 50 is the same as them throwing the ball 50 yards, it’s just a higher completion percentage.”
While Gary notes that his team’s decision making was much improved on Friday, the Hawks’ linemen on both sides of the ball struggled at times.
Despite halftime adjustments, the Jets (0-5, 0-1 Mid-Carolina) continued to find success pounding the ball up the middle of the field. Offensively, Seaforth was pushed back down the field play after play, putting the Hawks in situations where they needed to pick up 20 or 30 yards to move the chains.
Gary was quick to address the mistakes after the game, but he was equally speedy to shout out this monumental achievement for his team.
The Hawks have made quite a bit of progress as a team since losing their first three games by a combined score of 128-0. Seaforth almost upended 3A school and county rival Northwood in Week 4, leading for the majority of the game but ultimately falling, 12-7. Gary appreciates the work his team has put in and their resilience after such a rough start to the year.
“I’m happy for them because they’ve been working hard,” he said. “I’ve been kicking their butt … but as soon as the clock hits zero I gotta think about laundry and breaking down film for what Graham is doing.”
While Gary was already looking ahead following Friday’s win, the Hawks took some extra time to soak it all in.
Even after their initial celebration, after the team shook hands at the 50-yard line with Jordan-Matthews, the Hawks gathered in front of their marching band. After the Jets had nearly cleared the field, and the fans in attendance were already driving home, several Seaforth players moshed in front of the still-rattling drum line.
For a Seaforth team looking to establish itself in its first-ever varsity season, this win just meant more.
Riding high with their first win of the season behind them and a 1-0 record in conference play, the Hawks will try to keep things rolling in Week 6 at home against 1-4 Graham. The Red Devils lost to Bartlett Yancey, 38-6, in Week 5.
Jordan-Matthews, meanwhile, will look for its first win of the 2022 fall season Friday night against Chatham Central. Last season, the Jets lost to the Bears, 21-7, on the road.
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