Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly named Norcom wide receiver Matthew Outten. WAVY apologizes for the error.
PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – The Norcom football team is calling themselves the rock band, and they intend to make a lot of noise this season.
The Greyhounds won eight games last season and made a playoff run under then-first-year head coach Anthony Hawkins.
Now in year two, the former Western Branch offensive assistant has noticed a change in the culture at Norcom.
He should know. He was a freshman on the 1993 Norcom team that was the last Greyhounds squad to win a state title.
Not only is Norcom receiving community support, more athletes want to be a part of a winning team.
“It was overwhelming this year,” Hawkins said. “We have almost 100 kids between varsity and JV. Last year we probably had 60-65.”
At the quarterback position, the ball will be in the hands of freshman Tyrell Grant Jr.
One of Grant’s targets will be junior Matthew Outten, who has six scholarship offers, including Virginia Tech, ODU and South Carolina.
At running back, Nakeem Jones will miss some time with a shoulder injury, but he should be back by mid-season and he and his teammates notice the changes that Hawkins has brought to Norcom.
“Last year playing for Norcom, people thought that it was a joke,” Jones said. “Then they saw what we could do with an actual head coach who cares about us, so people want to come out now and support the city. People want to be involved so that’s what really changed.”
With winning comes an identity, and this year’s Greyhounds team is trying to keep that going.
“People want to be a part of the rock band,” wide receiver Matthew Howell said.
“We call it a rock band,” guard and defensive tackle A.J. Dixon said. “Everyone wants to be a part of the rock band. We’re making noise out there.”
Norcom opens the season at home on August 25 against Grafton.