MIAMI — The head coaches know each other well.
NEO’s Zach Allen and Trinity Valley’s Sherard Poteete spent a season working together on the Golden Norse staff when Poteete was head coach and Allen the defensive coordinator.
Both are in their first season as head coach at their respective schools.
Poteete was 3-6 in his only season as Norse head coach in 2013.
A member of NEO’s 1998 SWJCFC championship team, but in his second stint at TVCC, Poteete succeeded long-time coach Brad Smiley, who now is offensive coordinator at Northwestern State University.
Allen, a member of the Norse coaching staff for nine years, was promoted to head coach when Clay Patterson resigned to join the staff at Minnesota of the Big Ten.
NEO beat the Cardinals 26-10 in the conference championship game in Athens as Riley Hathhorn nailed three field goals and Wyatt Steigerwald threw for two touchdowns.
“They are going to be hungry; another team that probably feels they are better than their record indicates. And they are,” Allen said. “A lot of our kids that have been here a year or two circle Trinity Valley when the schedule comes out, just because they’ve been the standard for the league for the last five or six years.”
Tyler beat TVCC 37-24 last Saturday.
The Cardinals (1-1) took their only lead of the night 24-23 on a 34-yard touchdown strike from Elijah Walker to Tyri’k Barnes and the PAT kick by Angel Sevier at 7:09 of the third.
Tyler went back on top 34-24 on a 17-yard run by Jackson, his second of the night, wit 1:51 left in the third.
The Apaches’ Blake Patterson nailed down the win with a 45-yard field goal with 1:23 remaining.
“Tyler kept pounding the ball, and Tyler was tougher than we were tonight,” Poteete told the Athens (Texas) Daily Review. “They were more physical up front, and teams who usually win the line of scrimmage come out on top. We shot ourselves in the foot rather it was a penalty or stopping them on third down. We put ourselves in long situations all night long.”
The Golden Norsemen, who remain fourth in the NJCAA rankings, are off to a 2-0 start following wins over Arkansas Baptist and Georgia Military College.
Georgia Military led 10-0 until late in the third quarter, when the Norsemen got both of their touchdowns in the span of 1:34, compliments of back-to-back turnovers by the Bulldogs.
A fumbled punt set up a 48-yard touchdown strike from Clayton Sims to Adrian Wilson at 3:33 of the third.
The Bulldogs ran two plays before NEO cornerback Javion Sanders intercepted a pass and rambled 36 yards before being pulled down.
Following an incomplete pass, running back Darran Williams pushed his way into the end zone.
The PAT kick by Grove sophomore Tommy Henderson staked the Golden Norse to a four-point cushion.
Georgia Military had chances down the stretch, turning the ball over on downs at the Norse 36 and 47.
“NEO will be coached well,” Poteete told the Daily Review. “They have a couple of guys who I have worked for in Zach Allen and Zach Crissup. They will do a great job on the defensive side of the ball. They will be well prepared and play well. If we can eliminate the mistakes, we will be fine.
“We are going to go and make the corrections and get ready for the next one. You have to come ready to play each week, and this league is the best league in the nation. If you don't come ready to play, you are going to get beat. We have to make sure that we are prepared for the next opponent, and make the corrections on this one first.”
To show how balanced the rivalry has been, the teams have split games the past two seasons, and since the first game in the series in 1963, the Norsemen and Cardinals have battled to an 18-18 draw.
“We know what kind of battle we are in for,” Allen said. “We know what type effort they are going to bring. We know a lot about them and they know a lot about us. It will come down to effort and making plays.
“They were a couple of real hard-fought battles last year. I would expect nothing less this year.”
Allen said no penalties would be handed out because of the melee that broke out following the game with GMC primarily for one reason: “we don’t have film of it; all I know is hearsay.”
Kickoff for Hall of Fame Night is at 6 p.m.
The Norsemen hit the road Saturday, Sept. 22, to face Kilgore College in a 3 p.m. conference game.