From the sidelines by Becky Kimbrell-Norris
WAKE FOREST — It’s been a successful season for the Heritage High School football team and it’s not over yet.
As the Huskies prepare to travel to in-town rival Wake Forest tomorrow (Friday), one can’t help but give them credit for an exciting start to the 2013 season.
A victory over the Cougars would give the Huskies their sixth win, matching last year’s total.
Heritage is sitting above the .500 mark at 5-2 overall, the best start from the team in its short 3-year history as a varsity program.
In addition, the Huskies currently share a second place tie in the Cap 8 conference — Millbrook, Leesville Road, and Wake Forest.
All this after winning just three games in their inaugural season two years ago.
In 2012, the Huskies finished with a 6-6 record and 4-3 league mark, which was good enough for fourth place in the conference and a playoff appearance.
So Heritage’s football team, no doubt is on the rise.
Coach Jason McGeorge said for the most part this is where he was hoping the young football program would be.
“We all have visions,” he said. “But so many things play a part in each game and week we play. Once again, I am very proud of everyone who has been a part of this program and has helped us establish a strong foundation.”
“To think of the successful schools in our conference and within close proximity, it is nice to be able to compete with them within this short amount of time,” he continued.
McGeorge went on to say that the records are important, but the way the players build relationships and work together is the progress he likes to see.
“We are very excited to be where we are,” he said. “The players in our program have worked very hard and I am so proud of their effort. I like the team feel and their togetherness and the fact that they play for one another.”
“We have gradually gotten better and that is what we need, when starting a program,” McGeorge added.
McGeorge said the other exciting part is the involvement of the school and the Hooligans, Heritage’s student body supporters.
“They have been amazing with their unwavering support,” he said. “There is not a better feeling than to know we have the Hooligans on our side.”
“The community support has been outstanding too,” McGeorge added. “Heritage High School is a tremendous place and I am so proud to be a part of the experience.”
In addition to a lopsided 49-21 win against Holly Springs in their season opener, the Huskies had a big road win at Knightdale over a solid Knights team and their biggest victory was defeating top-ranked Leesville Road 30-7.
Those wins have already been a leap forward for the Heritage football program.
McGeorge said that success has stemmed from the dedication from his players and coaches.
“The players have really developed a bond and appreciation for one another,” he said. “We had great dedication throughout the summer and that pays off this time of year.”
“Also, our coaching staff has worked very hard in developing schemes that help our student athletes succeed,” McGeorge added. “They have put in a lot of time with these young men and that communication and trust has helped our team as well.”
The Huskies have a few things going for them that bode well for the future. One, there is a strong baseline of talent and parity among team members. If one player is missing because of an injury, there are a number who can step up to fill the spot.
Secondly, they’re still considered young with the majority of the team made up of juniors.
“If a player goes down, unfortunately someone has to fill the gap,” McGeorge said. “We do have 48 players who work very hard each week to prepare for our opponents. If someone gets dinged up, we feel very comfortable with his replacement.”
Two senior players, who have been a part of the team from the beginning, are out for the season nursing similar ACL injuries.
Peyton Holste, a 2012 All-Conference linebacker and tight end and Morris Watson, an offensive lineman were both injured during the season and both went through surgery.
“Every team has to deal with this but I have asked the players to remain a major part of the program,” McGeorge said. “One of them had surgery on a Thursday and the following Tuesday, he was helping coach his position.”
“I think this is important for our team and for the injured players,” McGeorge went on to say. “The team needs to see how much the program meant to the player and on the other hand I want the players to know how much they mean to us.”
Injuries happen, McGeorge said, and adversity happens.
“We just have to stay on course and continue to work together,” he said.
With four games remaining on the schedule, Heritage is in a good position to break the program’s season mark for victories.
It’s been an incredible season and with two more wins, it could become a historic season.
“There is always a saying I live by in sport,” McGeorge said. “FIDO, which means forget it, drive on.”
“What happened in the past, we cannot go back, tomorrow is always a day away, so we must work on today,” he said.