The Northwood Chargers Friday night lights for Northwood High School football have historically been a crowd drawer for the residents of Pittsboro, NC. The football team, which hasn’t seen a consistent record for either wins or losses in the past few years, started the 2019 season with new coaches Cullen Homolka and Tobias Palmer. After the team started with a disappointing 0-3 streak, they began to look promising as a competitive team for the playoffs when they won the next four games back to back. After losing the next three games in a row after that, the dream of making the playoffs started to fade. Although many seniors were disappointed, wanting to finish their last football season strong, they were also looking forward to starting new seasons in different sports since almost all of the players are two- or four- sport athletes. “I felt like we kind of found our identity, but then also I felt like we took steps back when we should have been taking a lot more steps forward,” said Palmer, a former NFL player and Northwood alum. “It’s kind of in-between. I feel like guys right now, they want to win, they want to compete on Fridays, but it’s about trying to find that way of being able to finish at the end, whatever we need to finish. It can be tough, but it’s football.” Clayton Riggsbee pauses in the weightroom in between the various sets of workouts that the coaches plan for the athletes. The weightroom is place where the athletes often socialize and talk about things other than football. Players pack up the bus to head back to Northwood after a loss to Orange High. Aaron Ross (7) runs for a touchdown in the first quarter of the game against Orange High, scoring the first points of the game for Northwood, making it 9-0. Before playing in an away game, Coach Homolka tells the players to settle down on the bus and not talk so they can focus. Some take the time to rest during the bus ride. Fans hold poster signs of their friends, who are seniors on the team. The support group is strong even amongst fans who are not students. “Everybody comes to the football games,” Charity Ross, the mother of the player on the sign in the middle, said. “It’s like an outing for Pittsboro, because we have nothing else to do.” Justin Brower rests on the sidelines at the close of a game against Lee County on August 30, 2019. After losing their first game and losing this game 60-0, players were discouraged that a losing streak would set the tone for the rest of the season. The training room is often filled with players and trainers just before the start of a game. Although some players are there to get a sports wrap from Jackie Harpham, the team’s athletic trainer and a sports medicine teacher at Northwood, most players are there to hang out and relax. Pierce Cook (19) and other members of the defense try to overwhelm Cedar Ridge’s Isaiah McCambry (7) during the first quarter of the game. The Chargers break through their banner to start the game against Cedar Ridge on September 27, 2019. The Chargers won 24-8.