08/16/17 — North Duplin Preview

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North Duplin Preview

By Justin Hayes
Published in Sports on August 16, 2017 7:01 AM

jhayes@newsargus.com

CALYPSO -- His handshake, callus and honest and not long removed from a full day in the employ of one Mr. Kornegay, is the first thing you notice.

The voice is next.

It's deepish with texture and registers somewhere between a Cajun drawl and La Grange, where he's from, and never -- as in ever -- seems to be on the search for confidence.

"You play golf?" he asks.

And before a proper answer can be fully articulated, he nails the follow-up questions -- with meaning.

"You any good?" he probes, smiling. "What do you shoot now?"

He's not media-shy, this one.

But such are a few good minutes with William Archer, the easy-how-ya-do conversationalist and senior quarterback for North Duplin's varsity football team.

Against a backdrop of work by the Rebel cheerleading outfit, the signal-caller's afternoon media obligation unfolds in rapid-fire bursts until one thing becomes absolutely immutable -- his opener wasn't some stiffarm-act, nor was it engineered by anyone to sound like athlete-speak.

Archer just doesn't mince words, because he and his teammates -- who go all-in and all-out every day -- can't afford the consequences.

*

He absorbs a staggered capsule of North Duplin's 2016 campaign -- one that ended with a 22-20 setback to Cherokee in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association state 1-A playoffs -- nodding and smiling and rubbing his hands together, as if every agonizing third-and-short was playing out in front of him.

Again.

Beyond that, there was a listing of his statistical arc, which started slowly but ended with All-Area consideration in December.

There were the carries, all 219 of them.

There were the rushing yards, all 1,419 of them.

There were 34 total touchdowns.

And through the rehashing sat Archer, a year sharper in the delivery of head coach Hugh Martin's mad-science option scheme, ready to talk about what will make this fall even better.

Spoiler alert -- he doesn't mention himself.

"I think it's gonna be pretty fun," he said. "The communication has gotten way better... and the sophomores have stepped up a lot."

To develop his point -- because that's just what he does -- Archer name-calls.

In a good way.

"David Price, for example... he's on top of the ball, and Jason Manning (linebacker) is another lineman... he knows what he's doing, and the strength is just -- they've hit the weight room," he remarks with a look of appreciation.

But wait -- there's more.

Much more.

"Justin Swinson," he continues, "he's a hoss on the line, and Zander Martinez -- he's now my center... and Josh Powell, my guard... he's gonna be pretty good as well."

He carries on like this for the next few minutes -- without really breathing -- in astonishing ease, speaking in total candor and total color.

No wonder this kid leads the huddle -- how could anyone else?

*

By the time the session has run its course, Archer has touched on -- and celebrated, for that matter -- most portions of the one-stoplight town's proud gridiron program.

His dial-down, which floated from the consistent effort of classmate Luke Britt to the dedicated Rebel coaching staff to the family-style cookouts for his linemen in LaGrange, was impressive.

And also expensive, mind you -- for a good O-Line doesn't come cheap.

"I tell ya, man... you spend a lot of money cooking those boys burgers," Archer said with a laugh. "(But) that's how you keep the relationship going."

His verbal-guided tour of Calypso now in the rear-view mirror, Archer shakes your hand again before slinking past head coach Hugh Martin and into the darkness of locker-room film study.

He's back in close quarters with the people he loves, and it couldn't be more obvious.