YEATESVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — It’s been more than 20 years since Northside High School’s football team has competed for a state title. On Friday, faculty, staff, students and family members gathered to celebrate the team’s accomplishments by lining the school grounds and sending them off to the big game in style.

Following a long, COVID-19 stricken year, the Panther football team (8-2) closes its season with the biggest game of the year on Saturday when they face Murphy in the NC High School Athletic Association Class 1-A state final. The historic moment called for a celebratory send-off organized by fans of the team, which they got in a big way Friday morning.

“All of this would not be possible without the community’s support and them kind of paving a way for us to go to states,” said Jared Adams, Northside athletic director & assistant football coach.

Signs of encouragement and loud cheers sounded through Beaufort County as the bus filled with players made its way to NC State’s Carter-Finley Stadium, site of Saturday’s big game.

“They’re excited. There’s a lot of new energy, and it’s kind of history in the making as far as the school competing for it in the East,” said Adams.

Online Originals: Northside-Pinetown football gears up for first 1-A state title game since 2000

Senior running back James Gorham said the Panthers are fired up and ready to hit the field.   

“They’re pumped up right now. We have been putting up this for the whole entire season and had our mind on going to states,” said Gorham. “Now we’re here.”

As the buses exited the high school, Panthers fans were left eagerly awaiting as the final hours of the clock ticks down for Saturday’s noon kickoff. We will have complete coverage following the game this weekend on-air and online.