The Northwood 9: Seniors who stayed and triumphed over adversity

By Chris Fortunes

Pittsboro, NC – On Friday, September 29, Northwood traveled to Seaforth High to play football in Chatham County. Although these schools are only miles apart, they are very different. In the fall of 2021 Seaforth High School opened its doors as a brand new school, the first high school to be built in Chatham County since 1972 at a cost $74.8 million.   

Kids that were redistricted for the new school  had already completed their freshman year at Northwood.  These kids had the option of staying at Northwood or leaving for the new school. 

The Northwood 9

There are currently nine Northwood seniors on the roster today that chose to stay… “The Northwood 9”. These kids decided to stay at Northwood to finish their high school careers. Most of their friends and neighbors bolted for a chance to be the first graduating class of Seaforth high school. 

What these kids did not know was that they would have a delayed and shortened sophomore year due to COVID. They would also have their coach fired for inappropriate conduct after their sophomore season. As juniors they again would have a choice to switch schools, or apply to the school board to stay at Northwood. After meeting their new coach they decided to stay. They had a very drama filled junior season after which their new head coach was fired for actions off the field. 

They now had a choice to stay at Northwood and meet their third coach in three years or transfer. These nine kids decided to stay. 

Coach Mitch Johnson (photo by Gene Galin)

This past spring the kids were introduced to coach Mitch Johnson.  He is a young talented coach that relates to the kids very well. He runs an exciting offense which allows many kids to get involved. These nine players are now enjoying a great senior year. Many of them are team captains and most are playing on both sides of the ball. Northwood’s senior class is very small and the total school enrollment has dropped from 1125 to 750 students this past year due to redistricting.

I am sharing this story with you for two reasons. It is a feel good story about high school athletics and a group of kids that have really had a rough high school football experience. This year they are also being rewarded for their dedication and resiliency with a great new coach, an exciting offense, and are having a great impact on their school and football program.   

The second reason for sharing this story is to bring awareness to our capital campaign. Northwood is currently trying to raise funds to replace our fieldhouse. Our current locker room and fieldhouse were built in 1978 by the kids in shop class. 

We are proposing a new 10,000 sq ft facility called the Northwood Health and Wellness Center. This athletic building will house meeting rooms, locker rooms, weight rooms, training rooms, and coaches offices. Chatham County has seen a lot of growth from businesses in recent years. We are hoping that these businesses will choose to invest in the kids of Chatham County by supporting our project. 

I have attached two links below that detail our plans. One is a link to the capital fund. The other is a YouTube video.

Link to Capital Campaign