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Center Stage

Antonio Moore, Northeastern take part in NCHSAA football championship media day | w/Video

Session held at Carter-Finley Stadium

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L-r: Northeastern head football coach Antonio Moore, principal Angela Cobb and athletic director Duncan Moore after the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) football state championship media session, Wednesday, December 12, 2018 at Carter-Finley Stadium. The group posed under the sign of N.C. State standout football player and former Northeastern assistant football coach and teacher Dennis Byrd.

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By Malcolm Shields
Sports Editor

Thursday, December 13, 2018

RALEIGH — Northeastern head football coach Antonio Moore was dressed for the occasion.

With a white dress shirt, khaki pants with a green and gold tie, the longtime NHS coach took part in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association football state championship media session Wednesday morning at Carter-Finley Stadium.

The media session was originally scheduled for Monday, but was postponed to Wednesday because of a winter storm that impacted the state days earlier.

Moore was one of 15 coaches with an athletic director from Murphy High School that were recognized for their football programs clinching berths to this weekend’s slate of state championship games.

Northeastern (14-0), the NCHSAA 2A East Regional champion, will face the 2A West Regional champion Reidsville (15-0) for the state crown Saturday at 11 a.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium.

The morning session began with remarks from several representatives with the NCHSAA.

That included remarks from NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker along with Riley Fields, the director of community relations for the Carolina Panthers.

After the remarks, representatives from each school were called up and presented a NCHSAA football and a plaque by Tucker, which recognized each coach leading their programs to championship games.

“I’m really excited and just honor God,” Antonio Moore said. “This is big time.”

Although Moore said that he didn’t have any butterflies, he said that he had flashbacks to the last time he attended the media day session in 2010.

During that season, Moore led the Eagles to the 2AA state championship game.

“When I walked through here, all that came back plus more,” he said. “I’m just grateful to be here.”

Although he said that it was good to receive the plaque and football from the commissioner, Moore said that he wished that the team could be there with him.

Moore was not alone at the session as Northeastern principal Angela Cobb and athletic director Duncan Moore joined the coach.

After the presentation, coaches and school administrators broke into smaller groups based on where their state championship games will be played and were given instructions on logistics for their games by the NCHSAA.

After those obligations were completed, each coach had an interview with Sinclair Broadcasting.

Sinclair will produce and broadcast all eight state championship games beginning Friday.

After that, coaches had one-on-one interview sessions with other media outlets from across the state.

JERSEY COMBINATION

The NCHSAA announced during the media session that the East Regional champion in all classifications will be the designated home team for their state title game.

That means Northeastern will wear a dark colored jersey.

Although NHS has worn green, black and gray jersey tops during the season, the Eagles will have a traditional look when the game kicks off.

“Green and gold baby, green and gold,” Moore said. “That’s what’s on my mind right now. Green and gold.”

FOR COACH BYRD

After the session, Cobb, Antonio Moore and Duncan Moore took a picture in the lower level bleachers on the home sideline at Carter-Finley Stadium under the sign of former North Carolina State great Dennis Byrd.

Byrd was a two-time All-American football player as a defensive lineman at N.C. State in the 1960s and had his jersey retired by the Wolfpack.

After his playing career, Byrd served as an assistant football coach and teacher at Northeastern.

Byrd was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Byrd passed away from a heart attack in 2010.

ECSU PRESENCE

Antonio Moore won’t be the only former Elizabeth City State football player coaching a team in a state championship game this weekend.

Torrey Nowell, who completed his college football career at ECSU in 2009, will lead the Pamlico County Hurricanes in the NCHSAA 1A state championship game against the Murphy Bulldogs Saturday at Wallace Wade Stadium on the campus of Duke University.

Nowell, in his fourth season at Pamlico, guided the Hurricanes to their first state championship game appearance this season.

“It means a lot to us and the community,” he said of the team earning a berth to the championship game. “The community is a group of hard-working people. Our kids reflect our community.”

Nowell acknowledged that his time at ECSU influenced where he is now as a high school coach.

“You got guys like coach Waverly Tillar, who was my head football coach, who was a great guy that I looked up to,” Nowell said. “I used to wear cowboy boots all the time just because he wore them. You have a guy like coach [Tim] Orr, who I still talk to all the time. Marcus White, who was my defensive coordinator, coach [Marcus] Hilliard, coach [Alvin] Parker at Virginia Union, all of those guys affect me.”

Hilliard and Parker were assistant coaches at ECSU with Nowell.

Nowell added that he has spent time with them at coaching conventions.

“Those guys are special,” he said.

Nowell added that he is super proud of Moore and Northeastern making it to the state championship in 2A.

Nowell noted that Moore had told him during a preseason camp that both schools could earn berths to state championship games this fall.

“I’m glad he was right,” Nowell said.

SEND OFF

A send off for the Northeastern football team to the 2A state championship game will be held Friday at 11:15 a.m.

Fans are encouraged to line Oak Stump Road from the high school student parking lot to the stoplight and then the left-hand side of Highway 17 up to Corinth Baptist Church.

The team bus will leave with a police escort at 11:30 a.m.

Northeastern encourages those in attendance to wear green and gold and bring signs and pompoms.

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