Our neighbors to the east, in Duplin County, should be stepping pretty high these days, thanks to some remarkable athletes who have put the county on the map with both their sportsmanship and their prowess on the gridiron.
Not only can Duplin boast of having three high school teams in the state football championship games, but one of them, the Wallace-Rose Hill Bulldogs, returned home Saturday with the 2A trophy, yet another to add to their victory chest.
It’s one of many amazing football feats for a county that has seen many such championships within its boundaries. It’s not been that long ago that James Kenan was a reigning champ, and, of course, the Bulldogs continue to find their way to the winner’s circle.
But to have three football teams in the final games is remarkable and a testament, we think, to the athletic programs in Duplin County.
Although North Duplin’s 1A Rebels didn’t secure the final win Saturday, they had a stellar 14-0 season, backed by a tremendous fan base that has stuck with them from the first victory to the sound of the last horn on Saturday.
In Faison on Saturday, that fan base was out in full force, despite the rain and cold, to send their team off in true Duplin fashion, complete with a Fire and Rescue escort. Those unable to attend the game or be there to cheer them as they left their home base, were on social media sites throughout the game, posting scores and sending shout-outs of encouragement.
The same could be said for those in Beulaville and beyond who supported the East Duplin Panthers in their state championship bid for the 2AA title. Just like the Rebels, the Panthers amassed a perfect season with 15 wins, 6 of them conference games.
And just like their sister school, East Duplin boasts a tremendous support system that has cheered them on from day one. That was no different Saturday.
Likewise Wallace-Rose Hill. With only one loss during their season, the Bulldogs didn’t disappoint their loyal fans either, providing a great showing all year, both home and away, giving the Wallace community some of what they love most — great football.
It’s much like what you see in Sampson County, where community members, parents, teachers and coaches rally around their young people, sharing in their victories and seeing them as the winners they are, both on and off the field.
While all three Duplin teams didn’t come back with a trophy, North Duplin, East Duplin and Wallace-Rose Hill returned to their communities winners in the eyes of those who support them so much. Each community sees their team just as they should: heroes who brought recognition to their county and to their schools.
We tip our hats to our neighbors, and often our gridiron rivals, for an amazing season of football and for bringing pride to their districts, a pride which won’t soon fade.