Dave Masterson is used to wearing multiple hats for Northeast High School. Masterson is the school’s athletic director, and he’s also getting ready to begin his 16th season as the football coach.
But what Northeast may lack in numbers like larger schools, the team makes up for with talent and perseverance. Judging by the results, 2014-15 was a pretty good year for Northeast sports teams: In football, the Vikings advanced to the state semifinals for the third time in 12 years, losing 35-12 to eventual state champion Many.
The boys basketball team defeated seventh-seeded Ferriday before losing in the second round of the Class 2A tournament. The girls basketball team also advanced to the second round of the playoffs. In outdoor track, the Northeast girls finished 11th in the state meet while the boys were 12th.
Masterson said a number of the school’s top athletes have graduated and moved on, but that creates opportunities for a new crop to step up and create a name for themselves. He expects 2015-16 to be a solid sports year for the school.
Part of that, he said, is a big push being made to enhance the girls athletics program and to make it competitive across the board in all sports. For example, Cynthia Montgomery will head the softball and volleyball programs while longtime Amite coach Joe English has been hired for girls basketball.
With Masterson, the conversation drifts to football, where his team is getting ready to embark on the 2016 season. He has beefed up his football staff with the addition of Barry “Tut” Musemeche as offensive coordinator.
“We’ve really tried to upgrade our football team, and hopefully, you’ll be able to see that with the offense,” Masterson said. His teams have advanced to the playoffs in 11 of 13 years.
However, there will be plenty of challenges. He lost 10 of 11 starters on defense along with the whole starting backfield on offense. In addition, Masterson said his school has a relatively small pool of boys.
“I counted 147 boys in the whole high school,” Masterson said. “By the time you get to the number who dress out for football, I’m looking at the mid-40s. But we’re going to have a young, talented group. We’ll be a very athletic and fast team. We’ll be fine later, but we’ll have some growing pains early on. But this might be my fastest team since I’ve been at the school.”
That one returning starter on defense is 6-1, 280-pound defensive tackle Leroy Roddy, a composite all-state player, who had 41 solo tackles and 49 assists with nine for loss and 3.5 sacks in 10 games. He’ll be the anchor for the defense.
The Vikings open up with Tara in the Scotlandville Jamboree on Aug. 28 then play at Walker on Sept. 4 to begin the regular season. They’ll face Baker at home on Sept. 11, followed by a road game at Glen Oaks on Sept. 18. They host Dunham on Sept. 25 followed by Christian Life on the road on Oct. 2. Next is Madison Prep at home on Oct. 8 then at Episcopal on Oct. 15. The three District 7-2A games are at Capitol on Oct. 23, then home games against Mentorship Academy on Oct. 30 and East Feliciana on Nov. 6.
“I like to play up in classification at the start of the season; I don’t like to schedule weak teams that just give you wins,” Masterson said. “I believe in playing up even if it means you take a loss because it teaches the kids to perform at a higher level.”
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