The N.C. Central University football team faces struggles midway through the season but remains confident about its success going forward.
The Eagles currently have a 4-5 record, after suffering a 28-25 loss to Bethune-Cookman University in double overtime.
“It’s been a pretty up and down season, honestly,” said senior defensive back JaQuell Taylor. “We’re still in the process of finding a rhythm and finding our true identity, whether that primarily be our offense or our defense.”
The Eagles worse conference loss this season occurred at home in Durham at the hands of the Florida A&M rattlers, with a final score of 14-55. Prior was the season opener against Duke at Wallace Wade Stadium, where they suffered a 13-55 loss.
“We started this season fairly slow,” redshirt Senior Davanta Reynolds. “Our first couple of games were blowouts, and after that we had to lock in mentally and decide to go harder.”
The team then went on to win two games in a row against Howard and Norfolk Stake universities to gain a .500 record before the loss to Bethune-Cookman.
The Eagles are currently in the process of rebuilding the program, after the departure of coach Jerry Mack who led the team to three conference championships. Mack now serves as the offensive coordinator at Rice University in Houston, Texas.
“Coach Mack was really serious about putting numbers on the board,” Taylor said. “He preached the more we score the harder we’ll want to play.”
This is NCCU football’s first season being coached her Granville Eastman, who previously served as the team’s defensive coordinator from 2014 to 2017 before taking over as head coach.
Players feel as if Eastman will help the team develop a stronger defensive identity, in hopes of being one of the premiere defensive teams in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
“Coach East[man] really spends a lot of his time with the defensive squad,” said sophomore defensive lineman Cam’Rom Perkins. “He stresses defense more than anything, that’s always been his number one passion. He always says the momentum on defense leads to even better momentum on offense.”
Although NCCU won’t qualify as a contender for conference champions this year, the team remains optimistic about the future of the program and the remainder of the season, according to Reynolds.
“We had some necessary losses and wins so far that have helped us,” Reynolds said. “Right now, we know where we stand and what we need to do to finish this season on the strongest note. It’s all up to us to trust our coaches and have the right attitudes and be there for each other.
The Eagles will face North Carolina A&T State University on Saturday, Nov. 17 at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium in the ninety-first annual Aggie-Eagle Football Classic.