WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY)–A hard hitting conference schedule couldn’t slow down the Hoggard High School football team in 2021. The Vikings finished the season undefeated at (7-0), earning themselves a top four seed in the Class 4AA East.
Hoggard head coach Craig Underwood says there’s something special about this group and the work they’ve put in to get to this point.
“I just love this group with the way they’ve worked all the way back to the preseason and really immediately following last season,” Underwood says. “They just continued to respond and improve all along the way.”
It has truly been a year of uncertainty not just for the Vikings, but all high school athletes. Hoggard didn’t know if they would have the opportunity to play this year once the NCHSAA announced the season was going to be delayed.
They decided instead of taking time off during the fall they would stay the course, preparing for the moment they’ll try to tackle on Friday night.
“It’s been a roller coaster,” says Hoggard senior Brice Nalepa. “I mean from the early days in July here on the back fields and in that jump pit over there. We were getting workouts in at 6 a.m. all the way up to February. So, it was six months of early morning workouts and then practice picked in February. Then we hit the ground running. It’s just been a good season so far and we’re looking forward to the next three weeks.”
Hoggard’s state title journey will continue this Friday night in battle of unbeaten teams. The Vikings will hit the road to take on the Rolesville Rams. They says it’ll take a complete team effort to come out of Wake County with a win.
“I’ll tell ya we’re going to have to play a full team effort,” says Underwood. “It’ll take offense, defense, and special teams. You know Rolesville’s undefeated for a reason. They’re a very talented football, but I think we are as well. So, it’s going to be a great matchup.”
In order for the Vikings to pull out a win it’ll take everyone playing together, but they don’t see that being a problem. Those around the program trust that everyone will show up and do their job on Friday night. It doesn’t matter who they’re lining up across from.
“We worked hard all offseason together and I think we just mesh,” Nalepa says. “This group has played together for a really long time and everyone gets along and everyone trusts each other. You know everyone’s going to do their job.”
The Vikings and Rams will kickoff at 7:00 p.m. on Friday night in Rolesville.