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Rivals prepare for battle

 

A long-standing rivalry will renew itself when Halifax County High School faces neighboring border rival Person (N.C.) High School tonight at 7 p.m. at Tuck Dillard Memorial Stadium.

 

Halifax County High School Head Coach Mike Roark says the rivalry between the Comets and the Rockets will bring extra intensity and excitement to tonight’s game.

“It is a true rivalry,” Roark pointed out.

“It’s not like one in which you’ve been getting blown out for 15 or 16 years. We’re on top of this one right now, and everybody wants to keep on top of it. 

“These kids know the other kids (from Person High School),” he continued.

“We have kids who have relatives living across the border in Roxboro. There’s smack talking for a year over Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas dinners over this game. It brings a little more enthusiasm to the table.”

Roark is hoping there will be a large crowd of Comets fans in Tuck Dillard Memorial Stadium tonight to support the team.

“We need to have a good crowd in the stadium Friday night,” Roark said.

“The kids love it. It’s supposed to be great weather. It’s good high school football, and it’s close to home.”

Tonight’s rivalry game between the Comets and Person (N.C.) High School pits two teams that are in similar circumstances against each other.

Person (N.C) High School enters the game with an 0-3 slate, with all three losses coming against teams that are ranked in the top 20 in their state classifications. 

The Rockets lost to Orange High School of Hillsborough, N.C. 40-7, lost to GW-Danville 30-12 in a game in which GW had five turnovers and lost to Dudley High School of Greensboro, N.C., one of the top 4A teams in North Carolina, 48-3. The GW game was the only game in which the result wasn’t decided before halftime.

Halifax County High School is 0-2 on the season, and like the Rockets, are looking for their first win of the season in tonight’s game. The Comets lost to Jefferson Forest High School 55-14 in the season opener and lost a close, hard-fought contest against E.C. Glass High School of Lynchburg by a 42-35 score in last Friday’s home opener.

“They’re like us,” Roark pointed out, “they’re clawing and fighting and battling trying to get a win. Those are the teams you need to be afraid of. You can’t take them lightly. They’re going to come in here ready to play.”

One factor in the Comets’ favor is a positive swing of momentum. While the Comets lost 42-35 to E.C. Glass High School, they rallied from a 20-point deficit twice to get within one score of a tie. 

The Comets scored 21 points in the final nine minutes and 41 seconds of the game to make a run at the Hilltoppers, and pounded the Hilltoppers’ defense for 380 yards of total offense.

It was an entirely different Comets team than the one that had faced Jefferson Forest High School a week earlier.

“The week before we got down, and it got tough on the kids,” Roark explained.

“We battled. We knew we could battle with these guys ( E.C. Glass High School). We went in at halftime down 14-7, but we realized we had blown a couple of (scoring) opportunities. 

“The mentality was there,” Roark continued.

“The fact that we battled is huge. That’s a big thing for growing up. We did a lot of growing up. We saw a lot of character in the fact that there was a lot of nipping and tipping on the field among the other guys( E.C. Glass) and we walked away from it. To me, that’s big.”

Roark said he hopes his team will take another positive step in tonight’s game against Person (N.C.) High School.

“It’s a process,” he pointed out.

 

“We’re moving straight ahead where we need to be. We’re pretty happy with the direction we’re going right now.”