Carol City Chiefs end Norland's playoff hopes
Akilah Laster | 11/7/2013, 9 a.m.
The Carol City Chiefs defeated the Norland Vikings 27-14 on Friday night at North Miami Stadium. The game demolished any chance that the Vikings (2-7, 1-3) would see playoff action this year. The victory also made Carol City (6-3, 3-1) the District 16-6A runner-up and the Chiefs return to the post-season for the first time in four years.
It was an emotional win for first year head coach Aubrey Hill who took the wheel after former coach Harold Barnwell became the athletic director at Carol City. Hill and Barnwell, both alumnus and former high school teammates, have brought this program from an almost five season lull after a strong showing in the 2009 playoffs.
“I take it as an honor to help get us back to the tradition,” said Hill, drenched with water from the post-game celebration. “This really defines where this program is going.”
The Chiefs, led by top 25 duo-threat quarterback, Trayon Gray, had just one district loss at the hands of the outright district champion Central Rockets (7-1, 4-0).
The district regarded as “the SEC” by local coaches came down to sheer will-winning by the Chiefs. Even the Norland coach noticed the competition level.
“The talent level is higher,” said Daryle Heidelburg, after his first season in District 16-6A. “There are a lot of Division I prospects in our district.”
In fact, the Chiefs barely skated by Homestead (6-3, 1-3) in a 23-20 win and wearily pulled through a back-and-forth scoring frenzy with Northwestern (4-5, 1-3) to win 28-15. It was not until Friday that Carol City looked much stronger than a district opponent and their play really depicted how far the program has come since its 2011 days where they only won a single district game.
“It’s a good experience,” Hill said. “It’s been a fun ride so far.”
The Chiefs’ performance is nowhere near perfect amassing more than 10 penalties in Friday night’s game that cost them more than 100 yards. However, the Chiefs have managed to nearly double their opponents in rushing yards this season, which is laudable with a team like Central in the same arena.
“We’re fortunate enough to come [to this point],” Hill said.
Friday’s noteworthy play came from a combination of their kicking and again their hard-nosed ground game where they scored every touchdown on runs, including a miraculous 90-yard sprint by Gray on a first down. Norland struggled to get field-position throughout the game due in large part to the kicking of Austin Hernandez who averaged 59-yards a punt.
Unfortunately for Carol City, even kicks into the coffin corner will not be enough for them to get deep in the playoffs this year; if they win in the first round away at Dillard High School (6-2, 6-0) (Nov. 15th at 7:30 p.m.) they will undoubtedly see the Rockets again in the second round. But as far as rebuilding and getting back to tradition the Chiefs have made great strides this season.