COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — In Columbus County, success has come often to their sports programs. Whiteville and South Columbus tied atop the football conference standings, West Columbus made it further than anyone in basketball and the Vikings and Wolfpack both played in the state title series in baseball.
West Columbus wants to now take that success and bring it to the gridiron.
It all could start with one win, something the Vikings have been searching for for two straight years after not winning since 2015.
But Coach James Pierce says the success of the school has created a buzz on campus that everyone wants to be a part of.
“We’ve tried to get that same energy and athletes from the basketball team,” Coach Pierce said. “We’re trying to do the same thing from the baseball team and get that experience. They are winning and they are having success and we’re trying to bring that over to our football program and hopefully it will carry over.”
Another team in Columbus County looking for a culture change is the Gators of East Columbus.
Coach James Hobbs says he’s excited for how his team has worked in the offseason ahead of the year, but he still recognizes the group is young.
A year ago the numbers on the team were an issue, but the fight was always there.
“I thought we competed in each and every game, but in the second half we just ran out of steam because the kids were never coming off of the field,” Coach Hobbs said. “There were some games we were playing with 17 kids. They never quit and they competed the whole game. But we just ran out of players and they were gassed.”
Numbers are not an issue down the road in Tabor City. There has been no team who has won more games than the South Columbus Stallions in the past two seasons. In fact, they only have one conference loss in two years under Coach Russell Dove.
In a year where they finished a game shy of the Eastern finals in the 2A playoffs with 12 wins, it’s the one loss that carries over and motivates this highly talented group heading into the year.
“With us, it left us really hungry,” Coach Dove said. “To sit there and get so close again, you’re one game away from the eastern regional with a chance to go to a state championship, these kids are hungry. The seniors I have coming back, these kids have been in it for two years now, they want it bad. We’re looking forward to that so we’re motivated. We’re motivated more than we’ve ever been.”
Finally let’s talk about the Pack. This is a team bringing back tons of talent, but the question marks come with the head coach.
It’s not often times the defending conference champs have a new head man, but that’s exactly what Whiteville has in JP Price.
Thankfully he has nothing but great experience. He’s a former player at South Columbus and an assistant under his father, coaching legend Joey Price, where they won five state titles with Wallace-Rose Hill.
He hopes to take the Wolfpack to a state title game, but wants to do it the right way.
“The biggest thing that I take away is at the end of the day, it’s all about the relationship with the kids,” Coach Price said. “Everything that he did, he put God first. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a faith based coach, our kids know that. So I take the faith part, putting my trust in God and share it with our kids. I know that when football is over one day it’s the relationships you build and the kids lives you’re going to impact that makes a difference.”
West Columbus hosts their first ever football jamboree in Cerro Gordo Wednesday, the Pack and Stallions play Friday and East Columbus opens the year August 17.