We continue our weekly preseason high school football series with a trip out to Pittsboro to check in on the Northwood Chargers. In their first season at the 3A level, the Chargers competed admirably, but Head coach Bill Hall is aiming for more in 2014.

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An 8-4 final record in 2013 may be acceptable to some high school football programs, but for Northwood, that winning tally is not enough.

The Chargers are used to making postseason pushes. Last season, the Chargers were dismissed in the first round of the state tournament by the Eastern Alamance Eagles.

Understandably, Coach Hall says the team is motivated to make amends for last season’s disappointments.

“We definitely didn’t finish up where we would have like to. Losing our last two […] left a bad taste in our mouth. We’ve worked hard to try to improve this year,” Coach Hall says.

Although he wished for a bigger turnout in offseason training, Coach Hall says he was pleased with the strides made in two weakness areas for the Chargers.

Northwood chargers

“Offseason workouts have gone pretty well. We always want more numbers there than we’ve got. The key people have been there. We’ve really been working with our offensive line and our defensive secondary. Those were our two not so bright spots last year. We focused in on that,” Coach Hall says.

The strength of the Charger attack is no doubt on the offensive side of the ball. Northwood lit up the scoreboard a season ago with a lethal aerial assault led by prolific quarterback Ty Pinnix. Coach Hall says he’ll be an even more dangerous leader this year.

“We’ve got to start off with our team MVP Ty Pinnix. He threw for over 4,000 yards last year and rushed for another 800. His potential is unlimited. Hopefully, he can continue where he left off last year and out up some big numbers for us,” Coach Hall says.

Pinnix in action (Herald Sun)

Pinnix in action (Herald Sun)

A popular target for Pinnix in 2014 will be athletic wide receiver Jalen Smith. Coach Hall says he’s expecting big things from Smith, who has been receiving preseason hype from around the state.

“N.C. Preps 3A All-State came out and our receiver, Jalen Smith, was one of the players who made that team. I’m really excited for Jalen. He’s another one you need to keep an eye on. He set school records last year for season and career yardage and catches,” Coach Hall says.

As for the other side of the ball, Coach Hall expects a dramatic improvement from last season. He believes the defense won’t be so much of a liability, therefore taking some pressure off the Charger offense. But Coach Hall still insists his team will need to score its fair share of touchdowns to contend in the loaded 3A Big Eight conference.

“I think the defense is coming along. But we’re going to have to score points in this conference. If there’s a better 3A conference in the state, I’d like to see it. We’re going to have to score some points, but I really don’t think we’re going to get in the shootouts we did last year. Our defense is going to be improved,” Coach Hall says

Coach Hall is hoping the hard work put in over the spring and summer will pay off for his boys, adding the seniors have got together and planned big goals for the fall.

“We’re looking for bigger and better things this year. We have a returning senior’s cookout every year in June. The guys get together, set some goals, and they put it down on paper. There are some lofty goals on that paper. We’ve worked hard to try to achieve some of them. We’ll see where that takes us,” Coach Hall says.

If the struggling defense can approach the level of the explosive offense, the Northwood seniors may be well on their way to crossing off some of those goals on that piece of paper.