North Lenoir, South Lenoir prepare for 36th annual Braggin' Bowl

North Lenoir, South Lenoir prepare for 36th annual Braggin' Bowl

North Lenoir and South Lenoir will meet in Deep Run Friday for the 36th annual Braggin Bowl. Hawks coach Jim Collins, left holding trophy, is joined by Chris Russell (79) and Terrance Copper, while Blue Devils coach Jeremy Joyner is with Jayden Carr (4) and T.J. Miller. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News

Trust and believe, this game matters.

On Friday, North Lenoir travels to Deep Run to face South Lenoir in the 36th annual Braggin’ Bowl and the 55th installment of the rivalry. The Hawks hold a 37-17 advantage in the rivalry and the Braggin Bowl trophy has remained in La Grange since 2010, as the Blue Devils have fallen in eight straight matchups.

South Lenoir is looking to break the streak and bring the trophy back to Deep Run for the first time since 2009, while also getting Blue Devils coach Jeremy Joyner his first Braggin’ Bowl victory. Joyner, in his third year at South Lenoir, had a great opportunity in 2016 — the last time the teams played in Deep Run — but fell 9-6.

Joyner said the team has to play disciplined to have a strong chance of picking up the victory.

“We’ve got to play four quarters of solid football,” Joyner said. “We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties and turnovers. I was pleased with the effort we showed against Greene Central (last week) and we’ll need to keep that same intensity.”  

For North Lenoir coach Jim Collins, this will be his first Braggin’ Bowl and if the Hawks maintain status quo, a chance to pick up his first win at the school.

“It’s a typical rivalry game and the kids are really excited about it, as they should be,” Collins said. “When I talked to the team for the first time about their biggest rival, they said, ‘We can’t lose to South Lenoir’ so I knew this was a serious game.”

Hawks running back Terrance Copper said the team has to sustain its effort, especially late.

“We have to come out, play hard and finish games, which we’ve been failing to do at times,” Copper said.

North Lenoir offensive/defensive lineman Chris Russell said this game would be huge for morale.

“It would feel good for team and program, because it would not only be our coach’s first win, but against a rival,” Russell said. “It would be 10 times better to get this one.”

On the opposite side, South Lenoir running back and linebacker Jayden Carr said the team has to continue to build.

“We’ve got to learn how to finish and be more physical,” Carr said. “The O-line has been good, and the team’s been through a lot, but we’ve got to keep getting stronger.”

Blue Devils defensive lineman T.J. Miller said intensity will be a big factor if the team is to pick up the win.

“We have to be aggressive and we can’t just do arm tackles,” Miller said.

North Lenoir has a 27-8 advantage since the inception of the Braggin’ Bowl. The Hawks’ current eight-game winning streak is the second-longest in the rivalry, next to a 10-year North Lenoir streak from 1984 through 1993. South Lenoir’s longest streak is four games, from 1994 through 1997.

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