CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - The Harding High School Rams brought home the North Carolina state football championship for the first time in decades. Tuesday, the school celebrated the win with a pep rally.
“I'm gonna hold this trophy like a baby. It’s near and dear to my heart and I will hold it on the left side," said Rams Defensive Back, Khristian Ellington.
The Rams beat Scotland County 30-22 in the 4A title game December 6 at Wake Forest.
“Happiness, it brought joy to the whole school,” Rams Free Safety Marquise Nelson said of the win. Ellington agreed saying, “I can only agree more. It brought happiness to the whole school, to everybody. Everybody’s feeling nice.”
The win brought together the school and community who cheered on the team and found a way to get involved with helping them.
“It’s the first time in 60 years that we got us a ring. You know that’s, I can’t explain it,” said Nelson.
Ellington followed up and said, “I say it’s exposure for us and the school not just the football team but Harding as a school. It represents the community.”
Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis heard someone started a fundraiser after the school announced they couldn't afford to buy the team championship rings. Davis and his wife then donated the $20,000 needed.
“What’s the state champion without a ring? And for Thomas Davis, thank you a lot for providing for us to get our rings, you know, it really means a lot. It touched my heart,” said Nelson.
Ellington said while smiling, “To get our ring is like for a baby to get his first bottle. It’s destiny. It’s not the same without it.”
Harding High School principal Eric Ward said the pep rally was like a party with 1,600 of his closest friends.
“I think it actually builds momentum going into the New Year. You know if you end the year great, people say if you end it great you’ll start off with that same momentum,” said Ward.
He’s confident that the momentum will transfer to the classroom.
“We came off the low performing list from last year and now we’re up to a C and pushing onto a B. We continue doing great things in the classroom and out,” said Ward.
Ward said the rings were ordered and should arrive within eight weeks. He said the student recorded a video message to say thank you.