Northwood coach Mitch Johnson and players gear up for a promising football season

By Gene Galin

Siler City, NC – In Tuesday’s Chatham County high schools football media event, the Northwood football team’s head coach provided insights into the upcoming season, players’ progress, and expectations for their performance. The gathering featured the team’s junior tight end and defensive end, Gus Richey, offensive lineman and middle linebacker, Mason Powell, quarterback and defensive back, Carson Fortunes, and senior offensive lineman and middle linebacker, Ryan Brinker. The discussions delved into the coach’s expectations, players’ roles, the team’s dynamic, and their reclassification into the 1A/2A Mid Carolina Football Conference. With a new conference, an ambitious coach, and dedicated players, Northwood’s football team is ready to tackle challenges head-on and aim for success on and off the field.

Setting High Expectations for a New Season

As the Northwood Chargers prepare for the upcoming football season, their coach emphasizes the importance of giving their all in every game. Coming off a losing record last year, the team is focused on improving their performance. The coach expressed his hopes for a successful season, emphasizing the team’s dedication and representation of their community and school. The team’s primary goal is to bring their best to each game, face opponents with readiness, and work collectively towards victory.

Tempered by the Jamboree: Tempo, Energy, and Improvements

The recent Jack Shaner Jamboree gave the team a taste of their current state and areas for improvement. The coach noted that the tempo and energy displayed during the jamboree were impressive, setting a standard for the season. However, he stressed the need for the team to maintain their focus and continue improving, especially on defense and overall speed. The jamboree experience provided valuable insights into both strengths and areas that need refining.

Individual Players, Collective Strength

The coach provided an overview of key players’ strengths and leadership roles within the team. Junior Gus Richey, a versatile tight end and defensive end, is anticipated to be a formidable force on the field, thanks to his explosive speed and intensity. Carson Fortunes, the quarterback and defensive back, stands out as a leader on both sides of the ball. His ability to read the game and guide the team’s strategies make him a pivotal player. Mason Powell, an accomplished lineman and middle linebacker, plays a vital role as a vocal leader, ensuring clear communication and teamwork. Finally, senior Ryan Brinker embodies the spirit of the team, driving energy and motivation through his actions.

Navigating the Reconfigured Conference Landscape

The Northwood Chargers find themselves reclassified into the 1A/2A Mid Carolina Football Conference, which now houses all four Chatham County schools. This reconfiguration adds an extra layer of competition, with local rivalries heating up. Teams like Southeast Alamance also join the mix, making each game critical. The coach emphasizes the importance of not underestimating any opponent and treating every match as a Super Bowl, ensuring the team is prepared and focused every week.

Mid Carolina Conference: Impacts and Benefits

The coach addressed joining the Mid Carolina conference. He acknowledged that while it might present logistical challenges, it eliminates excessive travel for smaller schools like Chatham Central and North Moore. The conference also offers a chance for intense local rivalries and provides opportunities for bragging rights within the county. As for the playoffs, the coach emphasized the significance of local matches, as they determine the seeding for further games.

Building a JV Program: A Sense of Brotherhood

With the Northwood Chargers looking to build a JV program, the coach stressed the importance of building a sense of family within the team. He noted that treating each player with respect and creating an atmosphere of support fosters a strong sense of pride and camaraderie. The coach’s approach has led to a significant increase in JV players this year, demonstrating the success of the “next man up” mentality and the importance of a unified program.

JV Integration: A Learning Opportunity

During the Jamboree, the coach took an unconventional step by allowing the JV team to face the varsity team during one of the scrimmage sessions. This experience served as a confidence booster for the JV players and allowed them to interact and learn from their varsity counterparts.

The Transition from Baseball to Football Coaching

The coach shared his transition from baseball to football, citing football’s dynamic strategy and year-round engagement as factors that drew him in. The tactical aspects of football, combined with the opportunity to build something meaningful, motivated him to switch to the gridiron. While he still has love for baseball, football’s year-round involvement and strategic complexity won him over.

Developing Multi-Talented Players

The coach revealed that he encourages players to develop skills on both sides of the ball, fostering depth and versatility within the team. This approach not only promotes a “next man up” mindset but also helps players better understand the game’s intricacies from various angles. This depth-building strategy aligns with the coach’s vision of a resilient team that can adapt to challenges and unexpected situations.

Leadership and Growth

The players shared their perspectives on leadership and personal growth within the team. Gus Richey emphasized the importance of setting a higher standard and leading by example, especially for the JV players. Mason highlighted the transition from vocal leadership to embodying a “next play” mentality, focusing on constant improvement. Carson noted the significance of studying film to anticipate opponents’ strategies, a skill he has been developing under the coach’s guidance. Ryan expressed the sense of brotherhood within the team and the collective effort to support and uplift each other.

Unified Goals and the Charger Brotherhood

As the conversation came to an end, the players were asked to describe, in one word, what it means to put on the Northwood Charger green and play as a team. They collectively and emphatically responded, “Family.” This sentiment reflects the close-knit bond, shared values, and united goals that characterize the Northwood football team. As the new season approaches, the Charger family looks forward to representing their school, community, and each other with pride and determination.

As Northwood football steps onto the field this season, they’re armed with a clear vision, talented players, and a unifying brotherhood. With a strong emphasis on unity, versatility, and continuous improvement, the Chargers are set to make their mark in the 1A/2A Mid Carolina Football Conference. As the season unfolds, fans can expect to witness a team that embodies the values of family, determination, and the Charger spirit.

Quick Media Event Notes

  • Coach and players discuss expectations for the upcoming football season.
  • The team focuses on playing with high energy and giving their all in every game.
  • The coach highlights specific players’ roles and strengths on the team.
  • The team participated in a jamboree and gained confidence from playing against higher-level teams.
  • Northwood High School has been reclassified into the 1A/2A Mid Carolina Football Conference.
  • The coach talks about the benefits of playing in a conference with local schools and avoiding excessive travel.
  • The coach and players emphasize the significance of conference games and treating them with extra importance.
  • The coach discusses building a JV program and fostering a sense of family and pride within the team.
  • Players mention learning leadership, focusing on improvement, and being a supportive team.

🏈 Expectations: Ready to compete in every game with high energy and commitment. 🏟️ Conference: Northwood joins the 1A/2A Mid Carolina Football Conference, with local schools and reduced travel.
👥 JV Program: Focus on building depth, treating players like family, and fostering pride in the program. 🔁 Versatility: Players are encouraged to play both offense and defense for better team dynamics. 💚 Charger Spirit: Playing for Northwood signifies a strong sense of family and unity.

Watch the coach and players for YouTube

00:07 Northwood football team sets high expectations

  • Players aim to improve on last year’s record
  • Focus on giving their all and representing the community and school
  • Coach impressed with the tempo and energy displayed during the Jamboree
  • Areas for improvement include defense and increasing speed and energy level
  • Specific players highlighted for their potential impact on the team

02:11 Northwood chargers have strong team leaders and high expectations for the season.

  • Mason Powell is a vocal leader and captain of the offensive line.
  • Carson Fortune is a leader on both offense and defense.
  • Ryan Brinker is an energetic leader who leads by example.
  • Northwood has been reclassified into the 1A/2A Mid Carolina football conference, including all Chatham County schools.
  • Every week is treated as a Super Bowl, and the team is prepared to give their best.

03:32 Playing in the split conference allows teams to play locally and creates rivalries.

  • Teams don’t have to travel far, which is fair.
  • Local play helps create a rivalry and bragging rights.
  • The winner gets a number one seed for the playoffs.

05:02 Being in the same conference with four other high schools brings more significance to the games.

  • Conference games are taken more seriously and require stepping up.
  • Having a rivalry within Chatham County adds to the significance of the conference games.
  • Seaforth is now the largest school in the county.

06:37 Building a strong program with a family-like environment

  • Treating players as family members and building a brotherhood within the team
  • Growing the program despite losing some players
  • Giving JV team opportunity to play and learn from varsity team
  • JV team gaining confidence and getting support and encouragement from varsity players

07:55 Varsity QB Coaching conversation with the quarterback and the importance of running straight up the middle

  • The varsity QB advised the quarterback not to bounce outside on a QB run
  • The varsity QB emphasized the importance of running straight up the middle and not making mistakes
  • The varsity QB praised the quarterback’s good performance so far

09:29 Building depth and promoting a Next Man Up mentality

  • Players are encouraged to play multiple positions on both offense and defense.
  • The focus is on ensuring everyone knows their job and understands the offense and defense.
  • Learning to be a leader and hold oneself to a higher standard, setting an example for the JV team.
  • Emphasis on personal growth and improvement through daily practice.
  • Fostering a culture of action rather than just words.

11:06 Importance of watching film

  • Watching film helps understand opponent’s strategies
  • Improvement in X’s and O’s from last year