In the high school football hunt or not, Narrows keeps plugging
Things haven’t gone all that right for Narrows High School football recently but you’d never know it by the hooting, hollering, and hitting heard at the first day of practice this week.
Shoot, you could hear the racket clear out in the parking lot. The enthusiasm carrying across the scuffed up practice field was even more apparent up close.
No way would you figure this is a group just recently free from the ball and chain of an 18-game losing streak.
Losing is no fun in any game. That doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy the practices and the sport for what they are. Playing football is pure enjoyment in and of itself.
“That’s absolutely right,” Green Wave coach Kelly Lowe said.
That isn’t lost on the players, particularly one of the handful of seniors out for the team for the first time.
“I wish I’d been playing all along,” said 5-foot-7, 150-pound halfback Trevor Hart, who hadn’t suited up for football since he was in the eighth grade.
Not that he was wasting his time in the interim.
“Seemed like every day I’d see him in his Jeep going down to the creek to go fishing or off to go hunting,” Lowe said.
These days, Hart is hunting holes in the line of scrimmage to slip through while toting the football. He’s led a three-manbackfield rotation that also includes fellow seniors and first-year players Dustin Meadows and Kelly Dent along with junior Gavin Givens. Hart has averaged about 60 yards rushing per game to lead the team.
Narrows has needed every bit of it. The original plan was for Hart to play fullback with Rodney Perdue at halfback and veteran quarterback Joe Hall at the controls. That was great while it lasted. First scrimmage, Hall led the Wave to two TD’s in four plays - then broke his collarbone.
In stepped Perdue, who hadn’t played much QB “but he’s just a great athlete,” Lowe said. “But you know the way it is in a small school, you lose one and you have to shift around three.”
Seven full weeks sidelined, Hall was back in time to lead Narrows to its only victory, 34-9 at winless Bland County Oct. 5.
Rusty? Does 5-for-8 passing, 165 yards and three TD heaves sound rusty to you?
Early in the fourth quarter, the 6-1, 146-pound Hall took a short running play up the middle, got wrenched wrong by tacklers, and took a severe bruise to go with chipped off calcium deposits where the previous busted collarbone had mended.
Done for the season was Hall and back to the game of musical athletes in the backfield was the Wave.
Hart has done his share, running, blocking, playing, cornerback. Naturally, all that football has cut into his hunting and fishing time. When things get tough, he can think about that 36-inch New River muskie from early last summer.
“It was kind of difficult and aggravating learning to play again, but after you get the gist of it, it’s all right,” he said. “Remembering the plays and knowing my jobs was the hard part.”
He had to learn two sets of plays once he knew he was going to transition from fullback to halfback. That settled without too much stressing out on his part.
“It wasn’t too bad,” he said. “I probably like running the ball better at halfback because I’m a little smaller.”
Hart and everybody else is going to have to man up the rest of the way. The Mountain Empire District has been playing some stout football. Starting Friday with visiting Galax, the reigning Group A Division 1 state runner-up, the Wave next entertains explosive Grayson County before closing at former AA power Graham. Throw in Fort Chiswell that thumped Narrows last week, and that’s a tenderizing quartet of games if there ever was one.
That’s life in the 21st Century Mountain Empire (Note to snooty Three Rivers types, in case you weren’t sure, the MED has supplanted the TRD in bust-butt cred).
Things are looking up at Narrows, too. Nine seniors will move on. Some good players return. Hall will be back in one piece.
Perdue can play his natural position. Out this year for football for the first time in high school, junior Chandler Burton,the basketball whiz, is an emerging threat (college prospect?) at wide receiver.
Looking ahead, there’s a lot to like.
Never mind the future, that’s true now, too, the won-loss ledger notwithstanding.
“It’s definitely been fun,” Hart said.
With Galax, Grayson, Graham, and general firearms season upcoming, what’s not to like?
-Ray Cox covers recreational, high school and college sports in the New River Valley. If you have information you’d like featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 381-1672.
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