The fire still burns in the veteran coach, and he has spent the past few months trying to transfer that energy into a group of teenagers.
There was coach B.W. Holt on the Rocky Mount Academy sideline Friday night in the Eagles’ home debut.
He encouraged his players when they were down.
He chastised them when they missed a block or an assignment.
At the end of the night, Rocky Mount Academy’s players sat near the the south end zone, wearing the sweat-stained uniforms of a 54-34 loss to Southampton Academy (Va.).
There was progress made, but not enough to earn the Eagles their first victory in two seasons.
“Their coach (Dale Marks) came up to me afterward and said, ‘Nobody is going to want to play you in the playoffs,’” Holt said.
To get there will take some work, but it was evident Friday that the Eagles – at times – have what it takes to advance that far.
Adam Bayless finished with 172 hard-fought yards on the ground, and Linwood Jones used his elusiveness behind an ever-improving offensive line to finish with 86 yards and a touchdown. Rocky Mount Academy went into halftime tied with Southampton, but allowed the same big plays that hurt them in a one-point loss in Week 1 to Cary Christian.
This time it was Southampton running back Tonee Hill, who scored on one-play drives in the second half by way of 77-, 70- and 52 yard scores.
Hill finished with 315 yards, more than Rocky Mount’s offense amassed all evening.
“We’ve got to tackle,” Holt said. “We knew what was coming. I really thought we would do a better job with that.”
The Eagles (0-2) looked the part of a revived team until Hill’s demoralizing runs.
They took the field with brand new uniforms, an overhauled coaching staff and players who showed they were emotionally invested in the contest until the final horn.
But even Holt, who earned many of his 300-plus career victories at a school that now sits two miles from RMA’s campus, cannot prescribe a magic potion to make the Eagles instant victors.
“I think we’ll be OK,” Holt said. “Coach Marks said we’d win four or five games. I wish they’d hurry up and get here.
“It’s tough on an old man.”
Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or email@example.com