In at least one category, Bunn trumped every other team at Carter-Finley Stadium in Saturday’s N.C. High School Athletic Association football championships. The tiny town of 357 people had more than 5,000 people in the stands in the 2AA title game, a 38-19 loss to Monroe.
Bunn coach David Howle was in awe when he saw almost the entire lower bowl on the home sideline filled with people wearing the green-and-gold. He bowed to them as a gesture of respect.
“It was amazing. They said we had more fans than any team that had been here today,” Howle said. “Our town, they love football and they love high school sports and they love our kids. That’s why I’ve never left.”
When Bunn took the bus – complete with police escort – to the championship game, the roads in town and even outside the town were lined with fans ready to wave to the Wildcats.
“It was humbling for me to see that many people,” said senior Justin Holder. “It just put me in a different mindset.”
Folks from neighboring towns like Louisburg, Franklinton and Youngsville also drove into Raleigh to see if the Wildcats could bring home the first football title in Franklin County history.
“Earlier before the game, I had been down to Louisburg and random people I had never seen before were just (telling me) ‘Oh I’m coming to the game,’ ‘I’m coming to watch y’all,’” senior running back Tevin Perry said. “There was just a lot of support in our county. Yeah we have rivalries, but at the end of the day we want the county to win in stuff like this.”
Ultimately, Monroe (16-0) was a difficult matchup for Bunn (13-3).
Monroe scored the game’s first 35 points. In the final 14 minutes, Bunn scored three touchdowns on TD runs by Chris Bumpers, Tevin Perry and 5-foot-7, 270-pound Omar Rosa – to make it respectable.
As he exited the postgame press conference, Howle was stopped by an event worker who wanted to pay his team one last compliment. The worker marveled at how Perry, who had 158 yards rushing on 28 carries, took vicious hits only to help the players who hit him up off the ground.
It’s that kind of atmosphere Howle has spent 28 of the last 32 years building as Bunn’s head coach.
On Saturday, after years of coming up just short of making it to the title, it was on display for the rest of the state to see.
“We want to get back (here) now,” Howle said.