Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Eastern’s Eagles bask in festive night at Southeast


By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

As warm-ups wound down Friday night, Eastern Alamance senior Ta’Jon Roberson walked with teammates off the field for the final pregame meeting. He nodded toward a nearby gathering of Southeast Alamance cheerleaders.

His sister was among that group.

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This historic first football game at Southeast Alamance, which has yet to hold regular classes but is a new school, was as much about family and friends as anything else.

[Story continues below photo.]

Southeast Alamance’s football team comes onto the field before kickoff.

“Sometimes it’s kind of weird,” Roberson said later of living in the same house as an opposing cheerleader.

Ta’Jon Roberson

The teams from these neighboring schools came together on a hot late-August night and were greeted with a tremendous atmosphere. Eagles fans filled the visitor’s seating area nearly an hour before kick-off.

“I never expected this many people,” Southeast quarterback Ryan Dodson said. “Warm-ups, they were piling in the gate.”

Southeast quarterback Ryan Dodson

Eastern ended up piling up a 63-0 victory, with all except 14 of the points coming in the first half.

But in years to come this night is bound to be remembered for much more than the final score.

“It was big for the community and a lot of big hype,” longtime Eastern coach John Kirby said. “This will turn into a big rivalry.”

Southeast coach Tony Aguilar is fielding a team mostly of underclassmen and low on varsity experience.

“I’m glad it’s done,” he said of the matchup against the school where he was an assistant coach for about two decades. “But it was a start of a good rivalry. It was a great, great atmosphere.”

Southeast coach Tony Aguilar

As freshman cheerleader Kamora Roberson watched her big brother’s team secure most of the highlights, there were moments to celebrate from both sides.

“It was very special,” Ta’Jon Roberson said. “It was fun to play against them and to see what they can do.”

Southeast’s 15-member band performed the national anthem before the teams were greeted to roars as they took the field. Alamance-Burlington School System superintendent Dr. Dain Butler conducted the coin toss.

The Stallions (0-2) won the toss, elected to defer their choice to the second and kicked off to begin the game – and were flagged for being offside.

Eastern (2-0) didn’t exactly roll early. The Eagles punted twice in the first quarter, though Tyrek Samuel ran for touchdowns from 5 and 4 yards out in the opening nine minutes.

Eagles defensive end Javontae Poteat always will cherish his first career touchdown. The senior scooped a fumble and ran 18 yards for the first points of the second quarter.

Javontae Poteat

“That was one of my goals,” Poteat said. “We want to get the turnover and score, too.”

Samuel had touchdown runs of 1 and 2 yards in the second quarter. Teammate Josh Murray ran for a 4-yard score and quarterback Jason Ball dashed 14 yards to the end zone. Jayden Russo scored on two second-half runs.

Aguilar guaranteed better things ahead. He saw a few glimpses.

“For the first quarter,” he said. “We came out on fire. We could hang with them for a little bit.”

So there were nuggets to appreciate for the Stallions.

“The noise was nice,” Dodson said. “Seeing that many people come out was nice. We didn’t play how we wanted.”

Poteat enjoyed the festive atmosphere. And offered a reminder.

“We run the city,” Poteat said, discarding the fact that the Eagles had crossed from Mebane into rural Haw River on their way down N.C. 119.

But Eagles fans who showed up wearing “Our Town” swag had just the kind of night they envisioned. And Ta’Jon Roberson could go home confident he wouldn’t be nagged by his younger sister.

See summary of results from other Friday night games with Alamance County teams:

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