I was born when Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House, so I don’t make any apologies for being defined as old school.
I’ve seen a lot of things change with high school football over the years, but one thing I’ve continued to have the biggest problem with is how early we start the season now.
In Cumberland County, students went back to class for the first time in the 2018-19 school year on Monday this week.
Friday night we’ll play the third game of the high school football season and for most teams the final nonconference game before league play begins. That means we had two games over and done with before the first teacher welcomed his or her students to class.
It’s crazy on multiple levels for the season to be starting that early. One of the biggest is attendance. I’ve seen video of the crowds at multiple games this season and there were way too many bleacher spots that didn’t have a fanny sitting on them.
I talked with a good friend who is a key figure in high school athletics recently and he confided in me that the time may have come to cut the schedule back for football to 10 games. This would allow us to start later, but it could also pave the way to end the season well before the Christmas season kicks in and allow for less overlap into basketball.
I know everybody screams football is the sport that pays the bills for everything else, and I agree. But if nobody is coming to the games because students aren’t in school yet and there’s not as much enthusiasm for the program when the halls are empty, it’s at least time to look at the problem and come up with some solutions.
Cutting a game off an already long schedule is worth discussing.
The record: 16-6
I made a strong comeback with a 10-1 record last week, missing only on Terry Sanford’s win at Jack Britt.
The season total is 16-6, which is 72.7 percent. Decent, but not awesome.
In the spirit of the U.S. Open, let’s see if we can at least hold serve this week or maybe sneak in an ace or two.
New Hanover at Cape Fear - New Hanover is clearly not the same team that beat the Colts in the 3-AA Eastern third round last year after the way Greenville Rose smacked them around on week one. But Cape Fear is also having its issues, especially on offense, going scoreless for a half against Clinton in the opener and getting blanked last week at Seventy-First.
My hunch is with future N.C. State pitcher Blake Walston back at quarterback, New Hanover will find it easier to score than Cape Fear will.
New Hanover 21, Cape Fear 12.
Purnell Swett at Douglas Byrd - I was impressed by Byrd’s showing against a strong South Columbus team last week, so impressed I think the Eagles can get their second win of the season Friday against Swett.
Douglas Byrd 20, Purnell Swett 18.
E.E. Smith at Seventy-First - Life doesn’t get any easier for the Golden Bulls, off to an 0-2 start and facing a Falcon team this week that’s looking like one of the best in Cumberland County this season.
Seventy-First 28, E.E. Smith 8.
Jack Britt at Gray’s Creek - Gray’s Creek raised a lot of eyebrows, mine included, by giving 4-A opponent Pinecrest all it could handle last week. The Bears have a passing game to go with their tradition of running, and with Jack Britt apparently having trouble finding itself at the start of the season, I think the Bears have a shot at winning this one.
Gray’s Creek 22, Jack Britt 18.
Pine Forest at Richmond Senior - I would love to pick Pine Forest to win three in a row, but Richmond is coming off a loss to powerful Wake Forest and the Raiders are going to be mad. The fact the Raiders are playing at home doesn’t help Pine Forest either.
Richmond Senior 29, Pine Forest 14.
Lumberton at South View - The Tigers have lived up to their preseason hype so far while Lumberton has continued to suffer heartbreak. Look for both trends to continue Friday night.
South View 39, Lumberton 8.
Cleveland at Terry Sanford - Terry Sanford regrouped nicely last week in its win against Jack Britt. But the Bulldogs will need a special effort this week against a Cleveland team coming off an impressive win over perennial power Garner.
Cleveland 21, Terry Sanford 14.
Westover at Hoke County - The Wolverines got their first win under new head coach Ernest King when they rallied on the road to beat Lumberton. I think they’ll make it two straight Friday night at Hoke.
Westover 18, Hoke County 12.
Other games: Wake Christian 28, Fayetteville Christian 6; Trinity Christian 24, Metrolina Christian 12; Village Christian open.