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Rough and tumble: Nighthawks to host undefeated Eagles

Coming off a 24 to 12 victory over Pasquotank, First Flight football coach Jim Prince and his senior-heavy Nighthawks team will host a formidable, undefeated Northeastern Eagles squad Thursday night in Kill Devil Hills. The game was originally scheduled for Friday.

Senior Night activities for the 16 seniors have been postponed to the Bear Grass game, which was rescheduled to Nov. 9 due to inclement weather. Instead, Prince was pleased to announce that instead this week they’ll celebrate Youth Football Night.

“They can come be our guests and run out on the field when we come out,” he said.

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Izzie Estes, left, and Kayla Hymiller take a break after performing in the First Flight marching band during halftime Homecoming festivities. Daryl Law photo

As for the match-up with the Eagles (8-0), coach Prince expects to see a big, powerful team with a punishing ground game.

“Northeastern, there are the quality team in the conference without a doubt,” he said. “They will just overpower you – their running game is what they rely on.”

The Eagles have two key players that make it happen; one’s headed to Old Dominion for football and the other plans to play for East Carolina.

But the Nighthawks have two guys they depend on too, two guys that help make it happen for the other 55 guys in the football program – seniors Noah Nurney and Parker Sylvia, Prince said.

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Parker Sylvia gives a thumbs-up after scoring a touchdown in the Nighthawks 24-12 win over Pasquotank. He’s perched to graduate at the top of his class this spring. Daryl Law photo

“The No. 1 thing about Parker is his heart, he’s driven,” the coach added. “He’s the guy who wants to do nothing but have his team succeed.”

And Sylvia gets results too. Prince said the running back has around 850 yards even though he missed nearly two full games earlier this season with an injury.

Asked about this week’s game, Sylvia said he’s ready and asks his teammates to keep the same mind set, “hyped-up and crazy,” as they had during last week’s victory.

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Sam Fitzgerald and Sophie Johnson were named First Flight’s King and Queen of Homecoming 2018. Daryl Law photo

“This past Friday, everyone was ready to get out there and kick butt,” he said. “It was only our third home game, we wanted to show them who we are and how good we are.”

Sylvia also said the team thought they would be better record-wise (4-4) at this point of the year, but it’s not a reflection of their commitment.

“This team is together, there’s a lot of good chemistry and one team goal – winning,” he said. “We’ve kept our heads straight and never lost sight of that goal.”

Sylvia hopes to attend the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. next year and he’s perched to graduate at the top of his class this spring.

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These Super Seniors display plenty of school spirit at last Friday’s Homecoming parade and pep rally. Go Nighthawks! Daryl Law photo

Coach Prince also hails Noah Nurney who has 700 to 800 yards running so far this fall. He and Sylvia have scored a total of 28 touchdowns – 14 apiece.

Nurney scored the final time against Pasquotank with a long touchdown scamper from midfield to put the game out of reach of the Panthers.

A third star player, Sam Fitzgerald, remained on the sidelines with his own season-long injury. But at halftime, he found himself front and center as he was named Homecoming King by his fellow students. Sophie Johnson was named Queen and her brother Mason played a great game.

Sam’s little brother Taylor, a freshman, made a few tackles that night from his nose guard position.

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Journalism students Buzzy Staten, left, and Madison Murray keep busy photographing the football game and Homecoming activities for Nighthawks News and Shorelines yearbook. Daryl Law photo

On one play, Prince said Taylor first penetrated the line by several years and then turned to chase down a 26-yard-long run play.

Taylor made the tackle saving a touchdown and like Sam, Prince said Taylor is “relentless.”

Prince commended a few more guys for playing great games.

“Cole Kelly had the best defensive games I’ve seen in quite a while with two big hits and two carries for 61 yards,” the coach said. “He’s the mind of our defense, he’s has done a great job of that.

“Sebastian Berruet gives us a powerful hitting force at the middle linebacker position,” Prince said. He’s also pleasantly surprised with the way Jomer Hernandez has been playing linebacker.

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Cassidy Joyce and the rest of the Super Seniors took first place in spirit at the Nighthawks pep rally the afternoon before the big Homecoming game last Friday. Daryl Law photo

Knowing Prince, he’s likely to have good things to say about each and every one of the rest of guys, too, along with stats for each of them.

His secret to success with these teams over the years is likely by following the trail to the weight room, where the guys sweat in the off season.

 

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