On Sunday at 8 p.m., the Herald will officially publish “Out of Nowhere,” a three-episode podcast whose arc shapes modestly the 2021 Roanoke Rapids varsity football team.

Its many starts.


Its steel faith.


Its Northern Carolina 1A/2A title, captured in movie-script fashion, and the seven — yes, seven — All-League players who willed it to happen.

Its head coach, just 27 years of age, yet somehow the ghost of Chuck Noll.

For all-things Hoyle Field, and the chance to place a proper button on this most unusual sports season, we thank you.

Noise and new rules

Noise. Real noise.

And people.

Stately, for the most part, but at times shrill, depending on the level of cheer needed for Northeast Academy — from the women’s tennis troupe, which earned Tar Heel Independent Conference glory and a ticket to the state jamboree in late October, to Stevie Flythe’s 8-man JV Eagles, who garnered a Colonial Carolina Conference football championship some two weeks later.

Good stuff.

And handled in step with the implementation of health and safety protocols by the map-dot’s no-strangers brass — a group led by headmaster Wanda Briggs-Trevino and athletic director Joella Brown, whose creation of a safety-first, seamless attendance system produced, until mid-November, the coverage area’s only consistent sports ticket.

For all-things Big Red, we thank you.

Speaking of AD’s …

If we called or sent a text message to Roanoke Rapids AD Mark Snead over the truncated winter sports season, we did so 5,991,472 times.

Call it “Groundhog Day” multiplied, on a maddening loop, by more “Groundhog Day.”

Are y’all still on-go tonight?


I’m sorry, Coach.


Man, I hate this.

Oh, by the way, your camera feed at Hoyle — it’s blurry.

So went our back-and-forth, tirelessly from Thanksgiving through April, but never once in testy form, as forbearance carried volleyball, a title-march by the women’s varsity basketball team and news updates to news updates, all the live-long day.

Without question, Snead was a rabbit box — patient, despite a looming Bill Murray, and tolerant, despite all other challenges.

For all-things Hamilton Street, we thank you.

Navy, teal … and green

Talk about it, or be about it.

End of story.

It’s a phrase which aptly characterizes the Northampton County varsity football team, which began its 2021 season approximately a month after everyone else, and Halifax Academy, whose state-title winning softball assembly proved that down is a lot of things, but out, not among them.

For the Jaguars, the spring went quickly, moving from zero in early February to light-speed Millennium Falcon by March, crash-landing with an appearance in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A East Region title skirmish — the school’s second straight berth.

In short, courageous.

And along Three Bridges Road, there was indeed more of the same energy, as the Lady Vikings exchanged a 1-0 title-series deficit for yet another 1A ring, winning the close-out game, 6-0, for their second championship in four years.

In short, daring.

So, for all-things navy, teal and green, we thank you.

Lastly, you

You bought papers, kindly.

Embraced digital.

You then liked, commented on and shared scarcely-written sports copy before donning masks, appearing at area schools and keeping your health-forward distance.


There may have been some, but they were hard to pick up.

Which says much about your spirit — a can-do, will-do Valley force that truly emboldened prep athletes across Halifax and Northampton counties this sports year, giving them a chance to feel normal through a darkness none, in all likelihood, will ever experience again.

So, for your heart, we thank you.