Dean Hensley

| Hendersonville Times News

Four years ago, the North Henderson High boys’ football team didn’t win a game and went 20-1 in the season … then the healing started slowly.

After losing 23 games, which started with two losses at the end of the 2016 season, North eventually won their second game of the 2018 season. The team won three games that year and doubled that total in 2019 with six wins … an aggregate number has already reached this year’s team, in just six games.

It was quite a turnaround for the Knights, and while it may come as a surprise to most people, it wasn’t at all for north coach Ricardo Hernandez and every single one of his players.

“People keep calling our team the surprise of the season, but when you know these guys it was expectation,” said Hernandez on Thursday after his team beat AC Reynolds for the first time in school history in the north on Wednesday.

Before AC Reynolds’ big win, North beat Asheville High for the first time. Now they have another historic victory in mind. On Monday at 5 p.m., North will take on traditional powerhouse TC Roberson, another team they’ve never beaten. The game takes place in Roberson. Like North (6: 0), the TCR Rams are also unbeaten 5: 0: 1, so that first place in the WMAC is at stake.

“We have lofty goals for this group,” he said. “Anyone who knows these guys knows that they will do just about anyone, and our goals reflect that. We want to be conference champions.”

Winning the conference title is something this group has long wanted. Hernandez said the key to this group was team chemistry, which has long been in development, said Hernandez.

“Most of them have been dating Apple Valley Middle School since sixth grade,” said the trainer. “There are waves in school sports, of course, and this group has worked together long enough to really influence our program. Without a solid middle school program, achieving this is much more of a challenge.”

And the success of this team is definitely a real eye-catcher not only in West-North Carolina, but also in the rest of the state. In the latest 3-A ranking on MaxPreps.com, North now ranks seventh.

Hernandez said another key to the team’s success is the attitudes of the players on and off the field.

“The guys on the team are committed to being a team. They hold each other accountable on and off the field. They are all ready to play a role in making the program a success,” he said. “We have student athletes who strive to be the standard up north. They work hard in the classroom and are some of the most respectful young men. That’s the real difference (this year) … we train great kids who really respect and love the game. “

Senior goalkeeper Edgar Soto said the team are like his second family.

“I just want to say that along with the other guys, I am totally committed to this team,” said Soto. “I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start my university season. The bond we have on and off the field is insane.”

Most football teams pride themselves on a strong offense, but for North it was a combination of offense and suffocating defense. The Knights have missed the last four games and have outdone their opponents 12-0. For the season, North has beaten the opponents 21-2.

Over the past few years, Hernandez has said there have been few fans at home games. Despite the coronavirus pandemic capping the number of viewers this season to 100, Hernadez said more and more people are coming to the games.

“Our school gathers behind these young men. Our booths have been empty in the past, but Wednesday was completely different,” said Hernandez. “Our co-workers, parents and friends came out to watch these kids play a game they love.”

While a conference title and playoffs are big goals for the team, Hernandez said the overall goal is far more important.

“Our biggest goal for these young men is to become great people in life. We want them to use football as a platform to influence their communities and become positive, successful adults,” he said.