A wish list for the new year; predictions for Alabama-Ohio State

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:

 

  1. More rigorous physicals for athletes to participate in athletics. The NCHSAA should require an echocardiogram to be eligible.
  2. More head-to-head competition between member schools of the NCHSAA and the NCISAA in Cumberland County.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. 
  7. 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. 
  8. 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. 
  9. 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

Jack Britt girls’ basketball coach Nattlie McArthur, kneeling at right, put her team through an early workout recently in preparation for the start of the NCHSAA basketball season this week. Shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March last year, NCHSAA schools have had little to no contact with players for nearly 10 months. Britt is coming off the best basketball season in school history, winning the Sandhills Athletic Conference title with a 24-4 record and advancing to the NCHSAA 4-A state basketball playoffs.

Pictured is an artist’s rendering of a proposed football fieldhouse at Pine Forest. Construction began years ago, including a portion of the brick foundation, but eventually had to be abandoned.

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.

BASKETBALL

Jan. 8

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

Jan. 9

Providence Day at Trinity Christian (girls)

Jan. 11

Village Christian at Falcon Christian (boys)

Jan. 12

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

Jan. 13

Parrott Academy at Fayetteville Academy

 

 

SWIMMING

Jan. 9

Jack Britt, Seventy-First, Hoke County at Westover Recreation Center

Jan. 13

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

Jan. 14

Patriot Athletic Conference at Westover Recreation Center (Cape Fear, Westover, South View)

 

Last week’s results

BASKETBALL

Jan. 1

Boys

Fayetteville Christian 54, Parrott Academy 42

Girls

Parrott Academy 55, Fayetteville Christian 26

Jan. 5

Boys

Cape Fear Christian 71, Northwood Temple 66

Trinity Christian 86, Freedom Christian 71

Girls

Trinity Christian 78, Freedom Christian 10

Jan. 6

Boys

South View 75, Douglas Byrd 45

Pine Forest 69, Overhills 50

Terry Sanford 52, Westover 47

Scotland 64, Jack Britt 55

Girls

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

Jan. 7

Freedom Christian 78, Harrells 50

 

VOLLEYBALL

Patriot Athletic Conference Tournament

First round

Jan. 4

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

Jan. 5

Semifinals

Cape Fear 3, Terry Sanford 2

Gray’s Creek 3, South View 1

Jan. 7

Finals

Gray’s Creek 3, Cape Fear 0

Jan. 9

NCHSAA volleyball pairings announced

Jan. 12

NCHSAA playoffs first round

Jan. 14

NCHSAA playoffs second round