12/05/17 — North Duplin: A Season Review, Part I

View Archive

North Duplin: A Season Review, Part I

By Justin Hayes
Published in Sports on December 5, 2017 5:53 AM

CALYPSO -- August 3, 2017.

The space, a dedicated crater of shaved 401 bermuda, looked immaculate, stretching to roughly 120 yards and framed on each side by a small clay shelf and light stanchions to match the waving pines.  

In a word, immaculate.

At the east end, a small watering post and medical tent was being facilitated by a handful of hush-hush student trainers, whose work ethic wasn't nearly as impressive as their handling of the evening's main course -- an entree of Eastern North Carolina choke-point humidity, paired handsomely with a side of aged heat stroke.

Ah, youth.

To the west, a couple of lean-two uprights gathered what was left of the sun and held dominion over the scene -- 40-some Rebels, sons of good ol' boys, back for another turn in the dust and heat and the year-long soundtrack of atta-boys, varsity whistles and let's-go-agains.

Locals call it the pit.

It's really a gridiron amphitheater.

And in the rinse of his team's game-speed workout, North Duplin  varsity football coach Hugh Martin was pleased.   

Very pleased.

""I see quite a few young men who have played four years, who are being great leaders, setting great examples,"  he said of the session. "Understanding how we have to go about practice and work... and I see young guys following that lead -- and having a good time while they're doing it."

Indeed so.

And in short order, the world would find out just why Martin was so excited.

North Duplin 46,

West Columbus 12

A laugh-riot from the very outset, the season-opener saw the Rebels run wild, accumulating 415 yards of total offense and leading 34-6 after the third stanza.

Done and done.

Senior Colby Bass paced the Rebel ground attack, hard-charging his way to 177 hashmarks on 18 carries and scoring a pair of touchdowns.

He was joined in the folly by quarterback William Archer, who added 116 yards on the ground and a trio of trips to the barn.

Defensively, Kijah Blow -- a name worth remembering -- anchored matters on the defensive side by tallying a team-high eight tackles.

And just like that, North Duplin was 1-0.

As Bill Belichick so famously once said... we're onto Northside-Pinetown?

North Duplin 28,

Northside Pinetown 12

Falling somewhere between 2-0 and the curious vortex of not-so-fast-my-friend was Pinetown, who showed tons of moxie and trailed the Rebels by just two points, 14-12, after three quarters.

But then reality set in.

Big time.

North Duplin, led by Arthur Pigford's nine tackles, got Pinetown off the field and the rock back to its offense, who buried the pesky Panthers with two fourth-quarter scores.

In total, the duo of senior back Kenny Sheppard and Archer rushed the luggage 32 times for 286 yards and four touchdowns -- not too shabby.

Defensively, a case of Gang Green began to break out, with North Duplin allowing Pinetown just 167 yards of total offense.

Next up, a band of Blue Devils.

North Duplin 42,

South Lenoir 6

As movie titles go, call this one Sheppard: The Force Awakens, Part Infinity.

By sundown, no less.     

The senior back, gifted with high-octane speed and drift-car smoothness, simply rotisserie-cooked the South Lenoir second level, piling up 187 yards and three scores in a powerful display of option football.  

And when he didn't find paydirt, the duo of Archer and Bass did, plowing around and between blocks for three additional scores in a performance that saw the team rack up 22 first downs.

Defensively, the Rebels flew around in fast-hat fashion, logging a total of 66 tackles -- with senior JJ Hidalgo registering a team-high of nine.

Then there was the Fumble Foursome.

Luke Britt, Dylan Jones, David Price and sophomore Alejandro Montoya each fell on a South Lenoir cough-up, keeping the offense in rapid-fire mode and defensive coordinator Brad Rhodes a very happy fellow.

North Duplin's next game -- a roadie at Camp Lejeune -- would be its first away from the cozy confines of H.E. Grubbs field.

North Duplin 42,

Lejeune 8

Say hello to the North Duplin Council on Foreign Relations, otherwise known that week as dignitaries Wilfredo Puac, Bass, and Sheppard.

As a unit, the trio operated in sync, rushing for  for 209 yards and four touchdowns on a combined 16 carries -- or 13 yards per clip for those scoring at home.

Defensively, the matchup was a washout, as the Rebels made 12 tackles for loss and held the hosts to a grand total of just 14 plays.


Through its opening four weeks, North Duplin scored a total of 158 points, while limiting its opponents to just 47 -- a winning recipe no matter the level of competition.

About the only critique one could find of Hugh Martin's outfit in the early going?

Penalties, which they could ill-afford on the road in week five versus No. 4-ranked Southside.