by Jane Moon
Restaurant gives football team, staff complimentary meal for great season
After a hard-fought struggle during Kinston High School’s last football game of the year, the team ultimately ended up being the runner-up in the NCHSAA 2AA football playoffs Saturday in Raleigh.
Despite coming in second in the playoffs, the Vikings varsity football team is still a winner in the eyes of many in Kinston.
To show how incredibly proud the community is of the team, Mo Abu-Taa invited the entire team — 47 football players and about seven coaching staff members — to eat a free meal at his restaurant. The meal consisted of cheeseburgers, pizza, subs, wings, desserts and the pièce de résistance, a 5-foot-long sub.
“I did this to support the football team,” Abu-Taa said, “win or lose.”
Abu-Taa said he invited the team last week to eat, saying it didn’t matter the outcome of the last game of the season.
The celebration also helped summon the new name from Supreme Deli and Subs to Vernon Street Deli, at 106 E. Vernon Ave.
Coach Nick Anderson said the complimentary meal was a kind gesture from Abu-Taa and something his team appreciates.
“He is a great guy for having all these boys in here,” Anderson said. “It says a lot when they’ll go out of their way and have these kids come in who worked extremely hard. … These kids work hard every single day week in and week out. It’s nice to have something like this at the end to kind of sum it all up and kind of close it down for the season and start getting ready for next season.”
Freshman Jamarkus Witherspoon said getting the experience of playing a game at Carter-Finley Stadium was the highlight of his season.
“It feels great,” Witherspoon said. “For one, I’m a freshman, and I get a chance to play varsity so I had an experience with those who are about to leave next year and actually going to N.C. State for the first time ever and playing a championship with them. It was an honor. …
“I just loved it.”
This was the second complimentary meal the team was given this week.
Mayor B.J. Murphy said he invited the entire football team to Monday night’s City Council meeting to congratulate them for working so hard and making it to the playoffs. After the meeting, the team was given a meal, catered by Our Picnic Basket.
Senior Kyle Brown said the immense support Kinston has shown the football team this season has it already pumped up for next year.
“It feels good to know that the community is there behind you, no matter a win or a loss,” he said. “It feels good to know that no matter what, they’re not going to judge you if you lost. Your family and community will always be there for you.
“The day after, everyone was pumped for the next season.”
Jane Moon can be reached at 252-559-1082 or firstname.lastname@example.org.