Star runner

Warren County running back Jay Goode (center) finds his way into the end zone during his team’s 34-26 victory against J.F. Webb on Aug. 27. Warren County is 1-1 heading into Friday’s game with Louisburg, but Goode’s status is in doubt after he suffered a leg injury late in the J.F. Webb game.

WARRENTON — Warren County High’s football team is coming out of a bye week rested and confident about the rest of the 2021 high school football season.

The Eagles kick off the rest of the schedule on Friday with their first home matchup since a 36-6 victory over Granville Central on March 19. Head coach V.J. Hunt has been eagerly anticipating the upcoming game.

“It feels like forever,” Hunt said. “I’m looking forward to actually having a home game and playing in front of our home crowd. We had to go into two hostile territories to kick the season off but we handled those pretty well, and I’m excited to carry that momentum back home.”

Warren County found itself in a unique position to start the 2021 campaign, as it had to play consecutive road matchups against local rivals Vance County and J.F. Webb.

Hunt knew that both those opponents held advantages when it came to size and depth, but he said those early-season rivalry games helped his players gain the motivation needed to maximize their potential.

A run game led by senior Jay Goode kept the Eagles in contention during the Vance County and J.F. Webb games. Hunt attributed the improvements on the ground to Goode’s leadership, along with the bolstered physicality of the offensive line.

Hunt wants to see the offensive line maintain its blocking efficiency, especially with Goode nursing a leg injury that he picked up while trying to make a tackle late in the J.F. Webb game.

Losing Goode for even a short amount of time is something that Hunt would normally see as a detriment, but he said the Eagles are more than capable of adjusting to his absence after a broken foot kept him sidelined during the spring football season.

“We’ve been preparing to play without Jay,” Hunt said. “The big thing with Jay is that it’s a long season and he’s a collegiate athlete. I don’t want to ruin his opportunity to play at the next level by rushing him back. This puts a strain on us offensively, but we went a whole season last year without him and that helped us grow.”

If Goode can’t suit up on Friday, Hunt will rely on a committee approach at the running back position that includes senior Amonta Jordan and junior Noah Dortch. Quarterback Dennis Williams is also expected to get plenty of carries.

Hunt has plenty of confidence in Williams, Jordan, Dortch and other contributors to move the ball against Louisburg. He hopes that Warren County’s defense can properly complement the offense following the busy break that Hunt used to highlight some of its miscues against Vance County and J.F. Webb.

Regardless of how Friday evening turns out, Hunt believes Warren County will be in a much better position to properly battle Louisburg, as opposed to the previous meeting between the two programs to conclude the spring football season.

Then, the Eagles were forced to go into quarantine leading up to the game after a possible exposure to COVID-19. None of Hunt’s players tested positive, but the processing of the COVID-19 tests only left him with 17 players during the team’s only day of practice.

What followed on that Saturday was a lopsided affair in which Louisburg pummeled Warren County 53-20 to eliminate the Eagles from playoff contention. The fallout from that defeat carried over into the fall with standout freshman quarterback Najah Williams being lost for the year after tearing a knee ligament.

The days leading up to that season-ending matchup were an experience that Hunt does not want to relive as a coach, yet he praised his players for overcoming the adversity to put up 20 points against Louisburg despite having a limited amount of time to prepare.

He wants to see his players use the knowledge gained from the loss and apply it to Friday evening.

“The loss did create some hunger for us,” Hunt said. “We were playing for something and our guys came out and fought. This year is different and I’m excited about the opportunity to play Louisburg. We have to control the ball, limit our turnovers and tackle well. Louisburg has plenty of guys that can play, so the team with the least amount of mistakes will win this game.”

Hunt expects a vibrant atmosphere in Warrenton on Friday night when Warren County kicks off its game with Louisburg at 7 p.m..

Contact Brandon White at bwhite@hendersondispatch.com or by phone at 252-436-2840

Contact Brandon White at bwhite@hendersondispatch.com or by phone at 252-436-2840