Pride soars as Eagles depart: Fans give royal sendoff | w/Video
By David Gough
Friday, December 14, 2018
Win or lose, the Northeastern High School football team bidding for the state 2A title in Raleigh today knows it enjoys a ton of fan support back home.
The Eagles embarked on their journey to the state capital in a charter bus Friday morning, complete with a police car escort onto Oak Stump Road. The Eagles take on the Reidsville High School Rams today at Carter-Finley Stadium in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A State Championship game.
Lining both sides of Oak Stump to see the team off and wish the players good luck Friday were dozens of people, including students, cheerleaders, teachers and parents.
Even the Eagles’ inter-county rivals showed up for the send-off: a couple Pasquotank Panther cheerleaders held signs reading “P-Tank supports NHS.”
“(They’re) another little, small school from Elizabeth City, so I wanted to show support from Pasquotank,” junior Pasquotank cheerleader Takyah Lynn said. “We just thought it would be nice to come support them because they’re going to Raleigh about to do this big game.”
While Lynn and a couple other Panther cheerleaders occupied a spot close to the intersection of Oak Stump Road and U.S. Highway 17, the Northeastern cheerleaders were stationed along the side of the road in front of the school.
There, they did their cheers as the crowd waited for the football team’s bus to start moving.
Senior Eagles cheerleaders Shekinah Powell and Makiah Hicks reflected on their four years rooting on the football team.
“It’s been a crazy journey watching the boys ... practicing every day hours after school and seeing them give their hardest every Friday night,” Powell said. “It’s definitely been an experience and we’re definitely proud of them.”
The thought of a NHS football team winning its first-ever east vs. west state championship football game in their senior year?
“Now that’s something good right there,” Hicks added.
As the cheerleaders chanted and the crowd waited, the NHS marching band played music.
Isaac Lister was one of the band members. As a snare drummer, Lister is the only senior member of the drumline.
He said he’s excited about heading to Raleigh Saturday morning to watch some of the football players he went to elementary school with get their chance at a championship ring.
“It’s great and it’s something I never thought would happen really,” Lister said.
NHS Band Director Wayne James is also looking forward to attending Saturday’s game. James has been the school’s band director for 28 years and this year will be his last. James also was a student at NHS for three years, so he’s been a part of the Northeastern community for 31 of the 50 years the school has been in existence.
“It just feels like the stars are lining up right,” he said. “What better way to end that than with a state championship?”
Another NHS alum celebrating the team’s achievement making to the state title game is Principal Angela Cobb. Cobb, a 1985 Northeastern graduate, is in her first year as the school’s principal after serving in a similar role at Weeksville Elementary School.
Cobb said she loves what the Eagles players have done for the Elizabeth City community.
“They are scholars, they are gentle and kind,” Cobb said. “They help out each other, they help out our community and they are role models for what we want our students to be like: to be good civic-minded citizens.”
She added that the football team’s journey to the state championship game has been “magical.”
Among the many player families in the crowd watching the team depart on Friday were the Fletchers. James Fletcher and his son Jason Fletcher looked on in support of their grandson and son, respectively, Jamison Fletcher, who is a freshman offensive lineman for the Eagles.
“I think it’s great that he gets to have the opportunity to be a part of something this big,” Jason said of Jamison.
Jason, who graduated from NHS in 1988, said he also played for the Northeastern football team. He’s always supported NHS’ football program, but says it means more with this son now a part of it.
“It’s pretty special,” Jason said. “I think they can (win). They definitely have the ability to win and I hope that they do.”
The NHS band and cheerleaders, other NHS students and members of the community all leave early Saturday morning for the Eagles’ 11 a.m. match-up against Reidsville. Cobb noted about 10 buses, including both charter and school-owned, will be used to transport to Raleigh those who want to make the trip.
“I’m ready for victory and hopefully when that happens — not if — we plan to bring them home in a large way,” Cobb said.