Class of ’21 produces strong fall

Published 1:41 pm Thursday, November 4, 2021

Back in late July, just as high school fall sports practices were starting, I wrote a column saluting the Class of 2020 athletes for persevering though COVID-19 and all the associated challenges.

I mentioned their on-field exploits and wondered what the ’21 season would have in store for us here in Beaufort County.

If the fall is any indication, we are in for a very entertaining winter and spring.

Southside and Washington start the football playoffs Friday and should advance, barring a huge upset. Northside drew a first round bye and won’t play until next week.

The Panthers and Seahawks finished 9-1, while WHS went 8-2. Southside’s only loss was to Northside for the Anchor Bowl, while the Pam Pack dropped back-to-back games to Northern Nash and West Craven while dealing with a player’s untimely death.

This was the best season in terms of won/loss records for the three schools combined by a wide margin since Southside opened in 2000.

It might be hard to believe, but it’s also the first time since 2000 that all three have had winning records in the same season.

Washington went 14-2 in 2014 and Southside ended 10-4, but the Panthers were 4-8.

The Seahawks lost for the first time in the 1A state title game in 2004 to cap a 14-1 campaign, while Northside went deep also at 13-3. It figures that the Pam Pack would come in 3-8, and so it’s been until now.

Maybe that’s why it’s been such an entertaining fall. It’s much easier to write about successful teams and coaches and players are more fun to talk to.

Mitch Godley’s 333 yard outburst for Northside at Pamlico County Friday was amazing. Washington’s Terry Moore has been amazing all year and Southside’s Kenjray Coffield has been a key in the Seahawks resurgence. All three have represented the Class of ’21 very well so far and it will be fun to see what the post-season holds.

Go ahead and circle Nov. 19 on your calendar. That could be a third-round rematch between the Panthers and Seahawks at Northside. The winner should play at Tarboro Nov. 26th to advance to the title game. The Vikings have ruled the east for years and it will be worth the trip to see what happens.

Other fall highlights include the Northside volleyball team making it to the third round of the playoffs with a 20-3 record after their first conference championship. Paige Sawyer and Shyanne Buck led a young team to new heights and promise to do the same on the basketball floor.

Senior Olivia Paszt and junior Katherine Pollock qualified for the 2A individual state tennis tournament and led the Pam Pack to the second round in the team tournament.

Keanu Dugan won the East cross country regional and helped the Panthers qualify for Saturday’s state meet along with classmates Bryson Proctor Brent Holland and Arie Dehoog. The girls will be there also, but don’t have any seniors.

Isaac Campbell helped the Pam Pack boys qualify for the 2A meet as a team for the first time in 24 years. They will also run Saturday along with sophomore Hailey Broadwell on the girls side.

On the soccer pitch, seniors play a prominent role for Washington and Southside as both made it to the second round.

Bryan Martinez, Hunter Moore and Ridge Zerniak for the Pack and Campbell Barnes, Jacob Fox, Victor Gonzalez and Emiliano Hernandez for the Seahawks.

That’s solid success across the board and so far, the Class of ’21 has been very entertaining to watch.  Hopefully, there is more to come.