There's plenty to celebrate for Knights, Farriss in first win


Sports Writer

Saturday, August 18, 2018

There was a gut-check moment on Friday night for Northern Nash’s almost entirely new defense. On the road against Hillsborough Orange, they were winning 26-24 in the fourth quarter, but the Panthers were driving at the Knights’ 30-yard line. A touchdown would put Northern Nash in scramble mode, trailing late in a road game.

“I was standing on the sideline just thinking, ‘This is it,’” coach Andrew Farriss said. “If they were to score, we’re down. And we hadn’t been down all game.”

“Before the game, if you told me the defense would have to win it for us, and step up and stop them, I would have been worried because of our inexperience.”

But in the end, that’s how it went down. The Knights held steady on a fourth down play and forced a turnover-on-downs. Then the offense answered with a touchdown drive that put away a 33-24 win, already matching their win total from 2017 on 2018’s opening night. Early in the game, Davontae Wiggins, who left in the second quarter with an ankle injury, started the offensive attack with two long touchdown passes to Nash Central transfer TaRod Brown.

(His injury probably isn’t major, Farriss said, and Jay Johnson did a quality job as backup for the rest of the contest.)

Overall, it was a solid team win, the importance of which for a down-on-its-luck program is hard to quantify.

“You could see it on their faces,” Farriss said. “It’s been a long time coming. It was a sigh of relief to get a monkey off our back.”

It was also the first win as a head coach for Farriss, who accepted the job this past winter after Randy Raper retired.

The most memorable parts of the night, he said, were the little things — huddling with the opposing coach before the game to go over new rules changes; being the reference point for a referee; holding up one finger after each touchdown the Knights scored to signify an extra point attempt.

“Being able to hold up a one to tell everybody we we’re going to kick—,” Farriss said. “It was a cool feeling to make that decision.”

As far as a souvenir — a tangible item to signify the first victory of hopefully a good amount more — he passed on that.

“Those game balls are too expensive,” he joked.

Going into this season, the Knights did have much higher expectations for themselves than what happened throughout the course of last year’s 1-10 record. Wiggins set the bar at seven wins on the first day of training camp.

With the first one down, they’ll head into Week 2’s home game against Southeast Raleigh feeling a little more confident about their hopes for the year.

“I think they felt that way even before last night,” Farriss said. “It just validates what they we’re feeling.”