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Business as usual for Holmes, Hoggard against Tarboro

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Tarboro's Devonta Davis, right, is tackled by Edenton Holmes' Jackson Ray during a punt return in the 2017 1-AA East Regional final at Tarboro High School.

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BY SAMUEL EVERS
Sports Writer

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

This season, Edenton Holmes has mostly been focused on the aspects of football it has been able to control. It’s been a whatever-game-on-the-schedule-comes-next attitude.

There were no tabs being kept on Tarboro High School, the team that ended its season in 2017 in the 1-AA semifinals, 50-7.

But now, after the Aces beat Riverside last Friday and Tarboro beat North Stanly on the same night, these two will meet again on the same stage one year later, this Friday at 7:30 p.m., and the focus and film-crunching has indeed shifted to trying to stop the Vikings, who have won 28 straight games.

And Holmes coach Paul Hoggard has noticed something that all of the 13 coaches who have tried to beat the Vikings this year have also noticed.

“Well, they’re very good,” said Hoggard on Tuesday night. “I don’t think that’s any secret to anybody. They have very good players. They’re doing a great job.”

Once the Aces, who are 12-1 this season, losing only to 2-A semifinalist Northeastern, finished off Riverside — they trailed early, 7-0, but scored the next 41 points — they broke out film from last year’s disappointing loss to the Vikings on Saturday and began studying. It was nothing out of the norm. The same as Week 1.

“They’re the next game,” Hoggard said. “It’s business as usual.”

For Holmes, the star this season has been Mitjonta Stanley, the junior running back who’s No. 1 in the state in rushing yards with 2,876, and touchdowns with 45.

Stanley, who also averages a gaudy 17.8 yards per carry, has been the starting running back since his freshman season, when Holmes made it all the way to the state title game, but slid into a quarterback role last year when the slotted QB broke his ankle in the first game of 2017. With Kentreaz Coston back from his injury and in the QB role full time, Stanley has been freed.

“The thing that jumps off the page is the average yards per carry — right at 18 yards,” Hoggard said. “No. 1 in the state with rushing yards, and he’s done it on a lot fewer carries than all the other ones who are up there.

“Very humble guy, you’d never know he played football. Very quiet. You wouldn’t know he’s one of the leading guys in state.”

By Sunday, said Hoggard, as is usually the case, his team has its gameplan ready for Tarboro. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are the hard practices days. Thursday is a walkthrough. By Friday, it’ll be time to load the buses and head to Edgecombe County for another shot at the reigning champions.

“You don’t go unbeaten for two years without being very good on both sides of the ball,” Hoggard said. “Offensively and defensively, it’s going to be a great challenge.”

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