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Firebirds fans rally for state championship

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Southern Nash High School alumni and prominent community members are proud of the school’s football team for making it to the 3-A state championship game this Saturday.

“The town of Bailey and its citizens both in and out of town limits are extremely proud of this team,” said Bailey Chamber of Commerce President Cecil Hawley.

It’s exciting for the Firebirds to win 15 straight games, Hawley said.

“What a positive thing for this end of Nash County,” Hawley said. “We need to keep the coach in our prayers, this has to be a highly emotional and stressful time for the team.”

The sentiment is shared across the board.

Bailey Police Lt. Tim Garland said he’s happy to see his hometown team in the big game.

“I’m very proud of the young men who have worked extremely hard all year to earn their spot in the championship,” Garland said. “I have full confidence that the Firebirds will continue to do what they do best — and that is win.”

Middlesex Mayor Lu Harvey Lewis attended Southern Nash High. Class of 1976, he said with pride.

“I think it is great,” Lewis said.

Rick Cone has three grandchildren who attend Southern Nash, but his connections to the school and its sports teams runs much deeper.

Cone was a teacher at the high school from 1969-71. He established the pep club that helped design the Firebird brand.

Cone was president of the booster club in the 1980s. He said Coach Algie Faircloth turned the team around in those years from just average to a great team that made it to the semifinals in 1990 and 1991.

Faircloth hired current head coach Brian Foster, who has been with the team for going on three decades.

Cone retired to Georgia years ago, but still keeps up with the Firebirds.

“I’ve watched every game this season on television,” Cone said. “I’ve been to one game this year.”

Cone is driving the 420 miles from his Georgia home to be at the championship game in Raleigh.

“I think they got a good shot at it,” Cone said. “But I just want them to play their best game and hope no one gets hurt.”

The Firebirds take on Charlotte Catholic in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s 3-A championship game at 3 p.m. Saturday at N.C. State University’s Carter-Finley Stadium.

Gameday Preview

See The Enterprise’s Sports section inside for a full breakdown of Saturday’s state championship contest.