By LESLIE COLLINS
October 31, 2012
Some have called it a dream season.
Coach Terry McCray likes to say, “We got our swagger back.”
For the first time since 1952, the Northeast High School Vikings varsity football team won the Interscholastic League Championship outright.
“It was a big accomplishment to win that outright for the first time in a long, long time,” said McCray, head varsity football coach. “The kids were so excited and overjoyed. I told them in the summer time, ‘If you put in the work, you’ll be able to reap the rewards later,’ and they’ve been able to reap the rewards.”
Last year, the team won one game and before that, zero.
Northeast’s current standing is 7-3 and 5-0 in the conference.
“It’s the first winning season in a long time,” McCray said. “They (football team) got the school excited. The kids are excited outside the building. All they talk about is the football team now.”
To establish a winning season, the Northeast Vikings not only had to push themselves physically but mentally. Shedding the “losing mentality” was half the battle, he said.
“They were fatigued from all the losing they had before,” McCray.
But now, the Vikings are morphing into a force to be reckoned with.
“It’s a dream season,” said Northeast Athletic Director Jim Conaway. “Coach McCray had a lot of obstacles to overcome. This doesn’t happen every day. To come into a program that hadn’t experienced much success (and win the Interscholastic League) is unbelievable.”
The Vikings played their first district game against Central High School Oct. 25 and won 27 to 26.
“It was definitely a nail biter,” McCray said.
Seniors Cornell Duley and Jamel Tunley played a critical role during the third quarter, McCray said. NEHS was down 26 to 20 when Duley caught a 20-yard pass from Tunley and then caught a screen pass during the next play where he ran an additional 15 yards. Later, Duley threw a 30-yard touchdown pass, which brought the score to 27-26.
Northeast will advance in district play, traveling to Maryville Oct. 31 to battle the Maryville Spoofhounds at 7 p.m. Maryville is ranked No. 1 in Class III.
“They’re 10-0, and they’re a very big team, a very physical team,” McCray said. “We’re gonna hopefully be able to use our speed to our advantage. We can’t have any mistakes. We have to play a perfect game in order to win.”