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Security concerns haunt spectators who just want to enjoy the game

County schools’ safety director says deputies stay vigilant

Security has become a key concern at high school football games.
Security has become a key concern at high school football games.
File photo

A chill shook the Cape Fear region last weekend following reports of a shooting in the parking lot at a football game at Lumberton between the Pirates and county rival Red Springs.

The game was halted early in the third quarter, according to The Robesonian newspaper. It was completed at 4 p.m. Saturday in an empty stadium in Lumberton.

The incident brought back awful memories of a time in the early 1970s when I was still in high school.

In Wilmington, which was undergoing a period of racial unrest during football season, games were moved to 4 p.m. weekly, and no spectators were allowed in the stands.

I’m not suggesting we’re anywhere close to that happening again after a single shooting, but the latest incident does give reason for the decent folks who just want to go to a game and enjoy the action on the field to do their part making things as safe as possible.

Someone who thinks about that regularly is George Hall, the safety and security director for Cumberland County Schools.

Hall, a former sergeant with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, said he has deputies routinely on patrol in the parking lots at games looking for anything suspicious. The deputies discourage any kind of crowd from gathering in the parking lot and ask people to either buy a ticket and come inside the stadium or leave the area.

The most important thing fans can do is to alert an officer at the game if they see any kind of suspicious or potentially criminal behavior taking place.

“It doesn’t have to be a red flag waving," Hall said. “If you think it doesn’t look right, let somebody know it."

For years, the county school system has used metal detectors at the ticket gates and had officers in the vicinity to make sure everyone attending is behaving in an appropriate manner.

The thing that makes the job of the security staff easiest is when everyone behaves.

“Just follow the rules," Hall said. “Do what you’re supposed to do. That would help us tremendously."

Earls Pearls

  • Congratulations to the Cape Fear football team, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary of taking part in a highway cleanup program.

According to a story by Kamari Faison of the Cape Fear News Network, members of the football team have been cleaning the road near the high school at least twice a year every year since 2013. They do one cleanup during the team’s bye week and a second during the final week of the spring conditioning period.

The Vander Fire Department also pitches in to escort the team during the cleanup. The team has been previously recognized for its work by the N.C. Department of Transportation and Gov. Roy Cooper. 

  • Congratulations to Cape Fear golfer Kate Wilson, who shot a 91 to take medalist honors in the weekly United 8 Conference golf tournament held at Gates Four Golf and Country Club.

Through two weeks of the season, Wilson leads the conference with a nine-hole stroke average of 46.0. Also under 50 strokes for the season from Cumberland County is her teammate Alex Serbio with 48.7.  

Earl’s Picks

My percentage dipped a bit but that wasn’t entirely my fault since I had only three games to pick last week, which left little room for mistakes.

The record was 2-1, putting my season total at 17-7, or 70.8%.

Here’s this week’s forecast:

  • E.E. Smith at Triton: The Golden Bulls pick up a loss on the road … Triton 27, E.E. Smith 12.
  • Gray’s Creek at Purnell Swett: The Bears continue their hot streak … Gray’s Creek 20, Purnell Swett 14.
  • Seventy-First at South View: This battle of the unbeatens is definitely the game of the week. The winner will likely have the inside track to the United 8 Conference championship … Seventy-First 28, South View 21.
  • Lumberton at Cape Fear: The Colts rebound from their loss to Laney … Cape Fear 30, Lumberton 7.
  • Terry Sanford at Overhills: It’ll be interesting to see how the Bulldogs regroup after a tough start and a week off … Terry Sanford 24, Overhills 13.
  • Westover at Pine Forest: This is a big conference match for Westover as it seeks to continue its streak … Westover 22, Pine Forest 7.
  • Douglas Byrd at Jack Britt: The Buccaneers should finally get in the win column tonight … Jack Britt 29, Douglas Byrd 8.

Follow Earl Vaughan Jr. on Twitter: @EarlVaughanJr.

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Cumberland County, Fayetteville, sports, football, high school