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Earl’s Projections Week Three … and a hope that calmer heads will prevail


As I write this column, HB91, the bill that would drastically alter the way the N.C. High School Athletic Association oversees competition in this state, is still winding its way through the General Assembly.

It passed its final committee hurdle earlier this week and is now headed for a full vote.

I cannot state strongly enough what a misguided and dangerous piece of legislation this is.

It was crafted by people who have absolutely no clue how high school athletics works and who seem to have no appreciation for the fact that there is a need for structure and discipline when dealing with schools that are sometimes prone to bend the rules more than a little in their favor.

I have not been sitting idly by as this bill has continued its march to a vote. I’ve spent time on the phone with our state legislators, most notably the office of state representative Diane Wheatley, who I’ve known since her days on the Cumberland County Board of Education.

I’ve also spoken with the offices of Sen. Kirk deViere, Rep. Billy Richardson and Rep. John Szoka to discuss this detrimental bill.

I encourage everyone who is reading this column to do the same. Call or write to voice your opposition to this bill.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. This entire piece of legislation is the result of the petty feud of one legislator, Sen. Tom McInnis of Richmond County, who was upset two years ago when one of his schools, Anson County, was kicked out of the NCHSAA playoffs for having too many players ejected from a game. 

What McInnis and the senators who support this bill won’t tell you is that Anson never tried to appeal the ruling by the NCHSAA. I have seen video of an interview station WSOC-TV did with the Anson head football coach, who stated on the record his team was guilty of the offense and deserved to be punished.

It is long past time for this bill to die the needed death it deserves and let the General Assembly get back to things that would do some real good, like passing a budget, or a law outlawing college teams from playing football games on traditional high school Friday nights.

Put HB91 in the trash where it belongs, and get back to work, please.

The record: 8-4

No other way to describe it. Last week was a disaster. I was a pathetic 2-3 which ran the season total to 8-4, well below the 75 percent correct benchmark that’s a minimum of decency.

Let’s hope I’ll rebound this time around.

Jack Britt and Seventy-First have open dates this week.

• Westover at Fairmont - The Wolverines got off to a strong start with Southern Lee and look to make it two in a row at Fairmont Friday. I like their chances … Westover 26, Fairmont 8.

• Southern Durham at Terry Sanford - This game was literally arranged mid-week as word came out that Cape Fear would be unable to play Friday night. It is unconfirmed but most likely because of COVID-19 protocols.Southern Durham is off to a rocky start, having lost 36-6 to Wake Forest and 39-0 to Durham Hillside, both a couple of solid teams.Based on how the Bulldogs were able to quickly recover from multiple starters out in their offensive line and beat Jack Britt last week, I’m giving them the advantage in this one. … Terry Sanford 31, Southern Durham 12.

• Douglas Byrd at Pine Forest - I look for Pine Forest to rebound quickly from last week’s loss to a strong Seventy-First team. … Pine Forest 29, Douglas Byrd 6.

• E.E. Smith at Clinton - Things aren’t getting any easier for the Golden Bulls as they travel to face a solid Clinton team. … Clinton 28, E.E. Smith 12.

• Gray’s Creek at West Johnston - I underestimated the Bears against Union Pines last week. I’ve got a little more confidence about their chances at West Johnston this time. … Gray’s Creek 17, West Johnston 12.

• South View at Hoke County - Since a 10-win season in 2012, Hoke County has only had one year when its football record climbed over the .500 mark. Things could be changing this season. The Bucks scored lopsided wins over Gray’s Creek and Lumberton and haven’t yielded a point this season. This will be an interesting test for South View. … South View 23, Hoke County 19.