By Earl Vaughan Jr.
The annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas All-Star football game was supposed to be held last Saturday, pitting the top senior high school football players from North and South Carolina against each other at Wofford College’s Gibbs Stadium in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Unfortunately, like many other sporting events scheduled this year, it was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But South View head football coach Rodney Brewington, who was supposed to be an assistant coach for North Carolina in the game, joined his fellow North Carolina Shrine Bowl coaches and selected a team for this year that will never get to take the field.
The roster, which was announced earlier this week, includes two standout players from Cumberland County. They are defensive back Micah Nelson of Cape Fear and defensive lineman Isaiah Potts of Pine Forest.
Potts was second team All-Patriot Conference in the defensive line as a sophomore before leaving Pine Forest for a season and then returning to play his senior year, which has been delayed until February because of the pandemic.
Trojan head football coach Bill Sochovka called Potts’ selection to the Shrine Bowl “well deserved.’’
Cape Fear’s Nelson was honorable mention All-Patriot Conference at linebacker in 2019 before moving to defensive back.
Cape Fear coach Jake Thomas called Nelson a great person, hardworking and an excellent student.
The appeals process of the recent first draft of realignment for N.C. High School Athletic Association schools will officially begin shortly after the Christmas break when schools that oppose the initial plan have a deadline of Jan. 8 to submit revised proposals.
As I’ve said many times before, and as the NCHSAA has clearly stated, a school simply saying they don’t like where they’ve been put is an insufficient argument. Schools must show specifically how they’ve been wronged and get other schools to agree with them on an alternate conference arrangement.
It’s clear that pure geography was the driving force behind this alignment as schools close in size and proximity to each other were frequently grouped together, even if it meant creating a combination conference.
The local school that I think got the worst deal by far is Douglas Byrd, which was put in a conference with a mix of area 4-A schools and two of the bigger 3-A schools, Cape Fear and Seventy-First.
I think the Eagles would have a much better shot at being competitive across the board in Conference 23 with schools like the Harnett County teams plus Terry Sanford and E.E. Smith. The problem is I don’t know if any of those schools would be willing to swap with Byrd and move to what I think will be a tougher conference in all sports.
There is certainly a lot of horse trading to be done and I’m sure some changes are likely to be made, but schools have to agree to them, and they have to make sense for everybody, not just people who are upset.
As we close out 2020, I know it’s been a frustrating time for everyone. Many parents and athletes have complained about lost opportunities to compete and to attend classes in person. I only know what I have read and what I can comprehend about this virus, and I can only say I think the decisions to hold off on in-person instruction and playing numerous sports were not done in any mean-spirited way. I think they were done with an ample amount of caution because of a deadly disease that we still don’t completely understand.
Let us all be prayerful during this holiday time that the vaccine will continue to be distributed and administered as quickly and safely as possible, and hopefully in the next few weeks and months we will begin to see cases and deaths drop as we get closer to returning to normal.
Please celebrate the holiday period safely. Avoid travel as much as possible and take advantage of technology to connect with friends and relatives you would normally visit.
I have a number of dear loved ones I won’t see in person this Christmas for the first time in many years. But I’d rather miss out on face-to-face contact this one time so we can be together again in person in 2022.
Happy holidays to everyone.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
It has been seven years since Seventy-First football player Evan Raines collapsed and died after running sprints at practice. His family continues to honor his memory through the Evan Raines Dream Foundation, which annually presents scholarships to local deserving athletes. This year’s winner of a $1,000 scholarship was former Pine Forest High School football player Dakota Pearson. Pearson is enrolled as a freshman at Winston-Salem State where he is pursuing a degree in business administration. Pine Forest coach Bill Sochovka said Pearson is a great student-athlete, hard-working and an awesome person. He is at left in the picture above, receiving the check from Rodney Raines, the father of Evan Raines.
SCORES AND SCHEDULES
Last week’s scores: