Earl’s Projections Week 2

One of my biggest thrills in covering high school sports for nearly 50 years is watching a young athlete I followed during his or her days playing in Fayetteville advance to the highest levels of their chosen sport and eventually reach the professional ranks.

Some of my earliest memories were of guys like Harry Sydney at Seventy-First and Brad Edwards at Douglas Byrd.

Sydney took a circuitous route from the University of Kansas to finally land a special teams job with the San Francisco 49ers. It wound up earning him two Super Bowl rings and got him a chance to return a kickoff in the actual Super Bowl game.

Edwards starred at South Carolina and was cast off by Minnesota before landing in Washington. He became a starter and earned a Super Bowl ring with Joe Gibbs.

I realize it’s not football, but most recently I’ve enjoyed tracking the rise of Terry Sanford’s Austin Warren, who was called up from Salt Lake City several weeks ago to join the Los Angeles Angels as a relief pitcher.

He’s become a bright spot in the Angels’ bullpen, hopefully paving the way for him to get an invitation to major league spring training next year.

I write this as we prepare for week two of the high school football season this Friday night. Amidst all the frustration and agony everyone has endured as we continue to battle the ravages of COVID-19, there’s a glimmer of hope that on one of our high school football fields, maybe more, young men are practicing and laboring and hopefully working toward a day when their name will be called by a pro team, and they’ll get the chance to play in huge stadiums before cheering crowds.

Yes, it’s a long shot. But miracles happen. Just ask Harry, Brad and Austin.

The record: 6-1

Not a bad start for the season, going 6-1. The lone miss was Pine Forest’s 8-7 win over Jack Britt.

Let’s see if we can top it during week two. South View has an open date this week.

E.E. Smith at Cape Fear – Cape Fear got off to a slow start in its rain-delayed game at Durham Riverside but pulled away in the finale on Saturday for a comfortable win. Meanwhile, Smith found little to be happy about in a lopsided loss at Seventy-First. I think it could be more of the same for the Golden Bulls this week. … Cape Fear 28, E.E. Smith 14.

Douglas Byrd at Goldsboro – Both teams got off to rough starts last week but Byrd was far more competitive in its loss to Red Springs. I think the Eagles will use that momentum Friday night. … Douglas Byrd 14, Goldsboro 6.

Union Pines at Gray’s Creek – This is the opener for Union Pines, while Gray’s Creek is hoping to regroup from a lopsided setback against Hoke. I like the visiting Vikings’ chances better. … Union Pines 16, Gray’s Creek 12.

Jack Britt at Terry Sanford – Both teams were disappointed last week, Britt by a loss to Pine Forest and Terry Sanford because it didn’t get to play due to COVID-19 protocols. I’m thinking the one game played for Britt plus the COVID layoff for the Bulldogs make Britt the favorite this week. … Jack Britt 14, Terry Sanford 13.

Seventy-First at Pine Forest – Pine Forest turned in a strong defensive effort against Jack Britt last week but will need a lot more on the offensive side of the ball to stay with the potent Falcons. I don’t know if the Trojans can come up with the yardage and points. … Seventy-First 21, Pine Forest 14.