By Earl Vaughan Jr.
There is certainly enough to worry about as we’ve barely scratched the surface of 2021, but we wanted to take a peek on the positive side and give local coaches and athletic administrators a chance to talk about a wish list for the year ahead.
We recently polled a variety of athletic-oriented folks from Cumberland County and asked if they had any issues or concerns they’d like to see addressed in the months ahead.
Here are their replies:
- More rigorous physicals for athletes to participate in athletics. The NCHSAA should require an echocardiogram to be eligible.
- More head-to-head competition between member schools of the NCHSAA and the NCISAA in Cumberland County.
- The NCHSAA needs to create a fifth classification. The membership was recently asked to change the bylaws and give the NCHSAA the power to do that, but it was voted down. Also, the NCHSAA needs to reduce or eliminate the number of split conferences, conferences made up of schools from different enrollment classifications.
- North Carolina lags behind neighboring states like Georgia and South Carolina in both athletic facilities and pay for coaches. Rubberized tracks are a good start, but there are other needs that should be addressed. One area many coaches would like to see improved is fieldhouses for football teams. Currently the only county school with a field house on or near its football field is Cape Fear. Another area of concern is adding LED lighting to outdoor athletic fields. That would provide better lighting at less expense.
- Virtual learning is taking a toll on high school students, and potentially even a greater one on Cumberland County athletes. In order to stay eligible for sports, county athletes are required to maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average, a bar that is much higher than what is required by neighboring school systems that our schools play or even by the NCHSAA. Many coaches are concerned that first semester grades could make numerous athletes ineligible and potentially make fielding teams in some sports impossible.
- So-called travel teams continue to be a problem in taking high school athletes away from school teams. Parents should be educated on the need to give their young athletes a break from sports and not keep them on the go year-round.
- Seeding teams for the state playoffs on the basis of strength of schedule needs to be reviewed. Some strong teams are penalized for having to play weak conference opponents.
- More balance concerning athletic rules for local public and private schools. This is difficult since both groups belong to completely different athletic associations who have no real incentive to work together to balance things out.
- As was recently demonstrated when Jack Britt cross country runner Juliette Suh’s life was saved by full-time athletic trainers from Pinecrest High School, the Cumberland County Schools need to invest in full-time athletic trainers.
National Championship picks
Every year I hand the prediction crystal ball over to our Cumberland County Schools varsity football coaches and let them make the call on the college football national championship game.
Here’s how they see Monday night’s scheduled duel between Alabama and Ohio State.
Brian Randolph, Jack Britt: Alabama 45, Ohio State 31. The national championship game should be an outstanding battle. Both of these programs have a wealth of talent and great coaching. I will give the advantage to Alabama due to their ability to modify their coverages from game to game.
Andrew Karcher, E.E. Smith: Ohio State 42, Alabama 35. Alabama has a great offense and very dangerous offensive weapons but gives up points on defense. I feel that the defensive line for the Buckeyes can control the line of scrimmage and will limit (running back Najee) Harris like they did with (Clemson’s running back Travis) Etienne. If the Ohio State offense can show up and play together like they did against Clemson, I think Ohio State walks away the winner.
Duran McLaurin, Seventy-First: Alabama 45, Ohio State 31. Neither team is playing lights out defense, but Alabama’s offense is just so hard to slow down. Ohio State is coming off of a huge win and the momentum and confidence will carry them but not enough to help the defense get enough stops.
Jacob Thomas, Cape Fear: Alabama. Better all-around team, with a full season under their belt. I feel they deserve it more.
Bill Sochovka, Pine Forest: My coaching experience would say Alabama by two touchdowns, but my desire to see Alabama lose says Ohio State by three, so I am going with the underdog and probably against everyone’s pick and take Ohio State.
David Lovette, Gray’s Creek: Alabama 35-29. I have watched very little football this season, but I know Alabama is probably the best team out there this year.
Ernest King, Westover: Alabama 31, Ohio State 28. I feel Alabama and Ohio State match up well against each other, but Alabama has more depth. I think (Ohio State quarterback) Justin Fields’ injury may slow him down and may play a factor in the game.
Rodney Brewington, South View: Alabama 35-21. Alabama is so far ahead of the field this year. Defense is top five. Offense is No. 1 and the best coach in the country.
Mike Paroli, Douglas Byrd: I believe Alabama will win 38-28. They both have great offenses, but I don’t think Ohio State plays defense as well as Alabama.
Bruce McClelland, Terry Sanford: Alabama 38, Ohio State 31. Alabama can match up in the trenches. Ohio State is going to have to score with them early and often. Alabama is balanced with the run and the pass and the offensive line is dominating.
Cross country champions
Congratulations to South View’s boys and girls who swept the Patriot Athletic Conference cross country championships earlier this week.
The Tiger boys had 21 points to 42 for second-place Terry Sanford. Other team scores were Cape Fear with 87 and Overhills with 93.
For the girls, South View had 28 points to 39 for Terry Sanford. Overhills was third with 57.
The individual winners were Octavious Smith of E.E. Smith for the boys and Rainger Pratt of Terry Sanford for the girls
Smith ran a time of 16:33.90 while Pratt won in 20:04.90.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
THIS WEEK’S GAMES
NOTE: Due to COVID-19 protocols all schedules remain subject to last-minute change. Attendance at most contests is either severely limited or barred depending on state and local COVID-19 policies. Spectators should check with individual schools on the status of each competition before attempting to attend. Only scores available on each school’s MaxPreps.com website are included below.
Cape Fear at South View
E.E. Smith at Pine Forest
Westover at Gray’s Creek
Overhills at Terry Sanford
Douglas Byrd at Jack Britt
Hoke County at Seventy-First
Fayetteville Christian at Freedom Christian
Northwood Temple at Trinity Christian
Cape Fear Christian at Village Christian
Providence Day at Trinity Christian (girls)
Village Christian at Falcon Christian (boys)
Cape Fear at Overhills
Douglas Byrd at Terry Sanford
Gray’s Creek at E.E. Smith
South View at Pine Forest
Southern Lee at Westover
Jack Britt at Richmond Senior
Seventy-First at Lumberton
Fayetteville Christian at Cape Fear Christian
Freedom Christian at Northwood Temple
New Life Christian at Village Christian
Parrott Academy at Fayetteville Academy
Jack Britt, Seventy-First, Hoke County at Westover Recreation Center
Patriot Athletic Conference Meet 1 at Westover Recreation Center (Terry Sanford, Douglas Byrd, Pine Forest)
Patriot Athletic Conference Meet 2 at Westover Recreation Center (Gray’s Creek, Overhills, E.E. Smith)
Sandhills Athletic Conference at St. Andrews University
Patriot Athletic Conference at Westover Recreation Center (Cape Fear, Westover, South View)
Last week’s results
Fayetteville Christian 54, Parrott Academy 42
Parrott Academy 55, Fayetteville Christian 26
Cape Fear Christian 71, Northwood Temple 66
Trinity Christian 86, Freedom Christian 71
Trinity Christian 78, Freedom Christian 10
South View 75, Douglas Byrd 45
Pine Forest 69, Overhills 50
Terry Sanford 52, Westover 47
Scotland 64, Jack Britt 55
South View d. Douglas Byrd, forfeit
Pine Forest 51, Overhills 49
Terry Sanford 59, Westover 19
Jack Britt d. Scotland, forfeit
Pinecrest 50, Seventy-First 48
Freedom Christian 78, Harrells 50
Patriot Athletic Conference Tournament
South View 3, Pine Forest 1
Gray’s Creek 3, Westover 0
Cape Fear 3, E.E. Smith 1
Terry Sanford bye
Overhills unable to participate due to positive COVID-19 tests
Cape Fear 3, Terry Sanford 2
Gray’s Creek 3, South View 1
Gray’s Creek 3, Cape Fear 0
NCHSAA volleyball pairings announced
NCHSAA playoffs first round
NCHSAA playoffs second round