Northwood Chargers: Ready to score big in fall sports

By Gene Galin

Pittsboro, NC – As the summer draws to a close, Northwood high school gears up for an exciting season of fall sports. I had an opportunity to have a conversation with Northwood Athletic Director Cameron Vernon on a ride over to Alamance County. Coach Vernon shared his insights on the upcoming sports programs. From football to volleyball and soccer, cross country to cheerleading, and more, Northwood is poised to deliver another thrilling fall season. With new coaches, upgrades to facilities, and increased participation, the Northwood Chargers are ready to make their mark.

Watch and or listen to the entire conversation here.


The opening of Seaforth High School impacted Northwood’s NCHSAA classification. The school recently moved from 3A to 2A due to changes in student enrollment. With the growth in the area, the numbers may continue to fluctuate at both Northwood and Seaforth.

Northwood football coach Mitch Johnson (photo by Gene Galin)

Football: A New Head Coach and High Hopes

Football enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to this season, as Northwood welcomes a new head coach, Mitch Johnson, to lead the team. Hailing from the Pinecrest area, Coach Johnson is no stranger to the local community. The team boasts a solid number of returning coaches who are Northwood graduates, adding a sense of pride to the coaching staff. The football team saw a promising start, with positive feedback after the first day of practice, setting the stage for an exciting and competitive season. The team, comprised of both seasoned players and promising newcomers, looks forward to making an impact on the field.

Gus’ Commitment to UNC: A Win for the Tar Heels

In a significant development on Tuesday, UNC’s football program secures a talented recruit, Northwood’s Gus Ritchey (class of 2025), who has committed to joining the Tar Heels. Head football coach Mack Brown and his team’s efforts paid off as they convinced Gus to choose UNC over other options, including NC State. The decision was not taken lightly. The proximity to Chapel Hill and other factors influenced Gus’ choice, as he aims to contribute to the Tar Heels’ football program and continue his successful journey in the sport. Despite the tough competition between the schools, both coaching staffs showed admirable dedication to recruiting Gus, exemplifying the importance of securing top talents in college football.

Admission and Sports Passes: Adjustments to Keep the Spirit High

While enthusiasm runs high for attending the games, an increase in admission costs this year may impact parents and fans. Football game ticket prices have increased to $10 this year. Northwood is implementing changes to help families by offering a $5 discounted admission rate for all Northwood students and feeder school students. Additionally, sports passes prove to be a cost-effective option for avid fans looking to support multiple games throughout the season.

Volleyball: A New Coach, A Promising Season

This year, Coach Meghan Zuidema takes charge of the volleyball team, bringing enthusiasm and determination. Her dedication to teaching and involvement in school activities makes her an ideal fit for the team. With Coach Freda Austin returning as the JV coach, the girls are excited about the season ahead. The booster club’s support has been instrumental in providing upgrades to the facilities, including a new score table and upgraded sound system. The team aims to keep the community spirit high and looks forward to a friendly rivalry with other schools.

Soccer: Preparing for a Competitive Season

The soccer team witnessed significant growth last year, with several freshmen and sophomores playing crucial roles. This season, the team is focused on conditioning and teamwork to take their performance to a higher level. Plans are underway to install concrete pads and bleachers to improve the spectator experience. With the addition of experienced players and the dedication of the coaching staff, Northwood soccer is prepared for a challenging yet rewarding season.

Cross Country: Calling All Runners

The cross country team is eager to welcome new members to the squad. Coach Eisenhower is encouraging students from various sports backgrounds to participate regardless of their experience level. Led by rising senior Noah Nielsen, a state champion in the 800-meter event, the team aims to build on its success. Cross country offers an opportunity for individuals to work on their physical wellness, make new friends, and contribute to the team’s success.

Cheerleading: Boosting School Spirit

With a new coach, Chasity King, at the helm, the cheerleading squad is determined to bring energy and enthusiasm to the field. Their recent camp experience has prepared them for an exciting season of supporting Northwood’s teams at various sporting events. The cheerleaders have been instrumental in fundraisers, contributing to improvements like a new indoor score table.

Girls’ Golf: Teeing Off with Determination

Girls’ golf faces a rebuilding phase this year, but the team is optimistic about attracting new players. Ella, a rising senior who will attend Campbell for lacrosse, will add her expertise to the team. With a focus on skill development and teamwork, the girls golf team is set to make a positive impact this season.

Tennis: New Challenges, Higher Expectations

The tennis team anticipates a competitive season as they face schools like Seaforth, Jordan-Matthews and Eastern Alamance in their conference. The squad has been diligently conditioning to meet the challenges and offer strong competition. With dedication and hard work, Northwood tennis aims to make a statement this year.

Meet the Chargers: A Festive Kickoff

To ignite the spirit and celebrate the upcoming fall sports season, Northwood high school invites everyone to “Meet the Chargers” on Saturday, August 5 at 8 P.M. The event will be a fantastic opportunity to interact with the athletes and coaches, learn more about the teams, and embrace the school’s community spirit. With free admission, it’s an event not to be missed!

Conclusion: A Season of Excellence and Teamwork

As Northwood High School gears up for the fall sports season, there is an overwhelming sense of enthusiasm and determination. From football to cheerleading, the Chargers are poised to deliver a season of excitement, teamwork, and excellence. The dedication of the coaches, support from the booster club, and the passion of the players are essential ingredients in this recipe for success. Northwood encourages everyone to come out and support their teams. As the new season commences, the Chargers stand united, ready to make their mark on the field, court, and track. Go Chargers!

00:12 Northwood High School football practice started with a new head coach.

  • The new head coach, Mitch Johnson, came from South Iredell.
  • There are returning coaches who are Northwood grads.
  • There is excitement and positive feedback after the first day of practice.

02:53 Recruiting activity and efforts to get Gus as the new offensive coordinator in NC State.

  • Coach Doeren visited Northwood multiple times to see Gus.
  • Pittsboro’s proximity to Chapel Hill was mentioned as a factor in Gus’ decision.
  • Football game ticket prices have increased this year to $10.
  • Northwood students and feeder school students have a reduced ticket price of $5.

05:24 Football reclassification is on hold due to involvement of state legislature.

  • NCHSAA board of directors and membership voted to increase classifications.
  • Northwood filed a proposal to move from 3A to 2A due to decrease in student enrollment.

08:03 Coach Meghan Zuidema is joining as the head volleyball coach, with Coach Freda Austin returning as JV coach.

  • Coach Zuidema joined in February of last year and has been fantastic.
  • Coach Zuidema coached softball as an assistant last year and expressed interest in the head volleyball job.
  • Coach Austin will continue coaching JV and also helps with basketball.
  • Northwest got a new LED scoreboard for volleyball season, thanks to the booster club fundraisers.
  • The old scoreboard was replaced after 18-20 years.
  • The community is passionate and always supports the school and sports.

10:23 Improvements to the sports facilities

  • New scoreboard, speakers, and netting have been added to enhance the soccer field
  • The volleyball team is expected to perform better this year with more experienced players
  • Efforts are being made to install concrete pads and bleachers for the soccer field

12:57 Soccer team has a chance for a good year with standout players

  • Ken Vasquez is an outstanding senior striker
  • Coach Arias is conditioning the team and they have good turnout

15:43 Cheerleaders and girls golf team updates

  • The cheerleaders, Emma Quarry, Michaela Bowling, and Emma Brown, are senior captains and recently had a successful camp.
  • The girls golf team is facing a shortage of players but has a few interested individuals. Interested players should contact the coach.
  • Ella Boki, a senior athlete, is joining the golf team for her final year before going to Campbell to play lacrosse.
  • The tennis team, coached by Coach McGee and Coach Earnshaw, has some returning senior players but experienced a decrease in overall participation. They will still have a team and are hopeful to compete at a higher level in the new conference.

18:07 Strong competition in the conference with lots of intra-county sports going on

  • New school Southeast Alamance joining the conference
  • Plan to build a new field house with private donations