High School Highlights

Jack Britt twins terror on golf course

18 01McKayla DaffinIt only took Jack Britt’s Daffin sisters, McKenzie and McKayla, two seasons of varsity golf to place among the top 25 players in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s state 4-A golf championship.

As they enter their third season with the Buccaneers, the duo is aiming even higher.

“I have no doubt come the end of the season both of them are going to be in contention,’’ said Ray Musselwhite, girls golf coach at Jack Britt. “They are working hard to improve their games everyday.’’

That work includes the tough competition the sisters face in the Sandhills Athletic Conference. “Week in, week out, we face such a tough opponent in Pinecrest,’’ he said.

The Moore County school just a stone’s throw from national golf capital Pinehurst has long been known for producing top high school players.

“I’m not afraid to put these two young ladies against their best two any day of the week,’’ Musselwhite said.

18 02McKenzie DaffinAt this point in their development, Musselwhite said neither sister has a lot of weaknesses. “They would both probably tell you their iron play is something they continually want to improve,’’ he said. “Off the tee and around the greens they are solid.’’

A key for both players, he said, is managing emotions and the mental side of the game. “I think we are going to be familiar with the courses we have to play in the regionals and states and so on,’’ he said. “It’s a matter of laying out a game plan and executing.’’

McKayla said the two help each other in practice and on the course. “Sometimes if I have trouble hitting a shot she’ll help me out and kind of give me some advice,’’ McKayla said. “If she’s struggling with a different part of her swing or a certain club, I’ll tell her what helps with my swing, especially our wedge play.’’

Both sisters think they have a shot at the state title this year, but McKayla said she doesn’t want to put pressure on herself. “That just makes you play worse,’’ she said. “Mostly I’m trying to shoot lower scores and keep practicing.’’

McKenzie’s big concern is consistency. “I’ve had plenty of tournaments where I’ve been under a couple on one nine and over a couple on another nine,’’ she said. “I’m trying to stay consistent and focus on one shot at a time.’’

McKayla agrees with McKenzie on the importance of focus. “I think as long as our mental game is strong, we should be okay,’’ she said. “The skill is definitely there. As long as you can keep your cool, keep your head in the game and don’t stress ourselves, I think we’ll be okay.’’

Pictured: McKayla Daffin, McKenzie Daffin

Second Trojan Challenge scheduled in October

17 01 Trojan Challenge MedalThe second annual Trojan Challenge to raise money for college scholarships on behalf of the Gary Weller Foundation is scheduled for Oct. 12 at the Sturtz Family Farm in Linden.

Last year’s event was successful enough to allow the foundation to award two $1,500 scholarships to students from Pine Forest High School.

The scholarships go to Pine Forest students who have overcome some kind of challenge in their lives and have gone on to excel not only in their chosen sport but in the community at large. Nominations are made by coaches at Pine Forest High School and a special committee picks the winners.

Cumberland County Commissioner Jimmy Keefe, a Pine Forest alumnus, said the challenge draws its inspiration from former Pine Forest football coach Gary Weller, whom the foundation is named for.

Weller was the victim of a horrific accident years ago, when the driver of a stolen vehicle ran him over multiple times while Weller was out running. Weller battled back through numerous surgeries and remains active both in local 17 02 Trojan Challenge Posterbusiness and athletic circles.

Keefe said the challenge is a tribute to Weller’s resilience. “When Gary had his incident, he had to overcome a lot of obstacles,’’ he said. “We want to challenge others to overcome obstacles that they may have and be successful.’’

Keefe said this year’s challenge will feature a tier-one obstacle course with 20 to 22 different obstacles. 

There will also be a Trojan in Training challenge, a scaled-down course for younger participants and older ones who don’t feel up to the full-scale obstacle course.

The event will begin at
9 a.m. and will end around noon.

Keefe said the field would be limited to 200 participants. The cost to compete in the Trojan Challenge is $65 per entrant. The fee for the Trojan in Training course is $40. General admission to watch the event is $5.

The deadline for entries will be a week before the event is held.

Children are welcome to take in the challenge, but those age six or younger need to be accompanied by an adult supervisor.

 In addition to the obstacle course, the event will feature food, drinks and music with the assistance of the Pine Forest High School Booster Club.

For further information on the challenge or to sign up for this year’s event, visit

Earl’s predictions for 9/5/19

Hurricanes would be bad news during any season of the year, but they are an annual plague on high school football coaches and fans during the fall in North Carolina.
Even before Hurricane Dorian’s arrival in the state, Cumberland County Schools officials took the wise precaution of closing school Thursday and Friday and postponing all athletic events both days, including Friday night high school football. The big concern for everyone is avoiding serious damage to life and property as the result of high winds, heavy rain and potential flooding.
For football coaches, once the weather has finally cleared, there are a host of concerns. First, they need to check on all of their athletes and their families to make sure everyone got through the storm all right.
Then comes the challenge of rescheduling games. Was your field or the field of your opponent rendered unplayable? What’s your schedule for next week? Often at this stage of the season teams are moving into conference play. No coach wants to move a Friday game to Monday in a week when they’ve already got a conference game set on the next Friday.
The perfect situation, which rarely happens, is when both teams have an open date at the same time later in the season and can move the game there. Cramming games too close together cuts down on recovery time and increases the risk of players being injured. I wish we could will hurricanes to a time of the year when they would be less a problem for everybody, but I guess that time truly doesn’t exist.
Here’s praying everyone in our area comes through our latest stormy encounter with the least possible harm and things return to order as quickly as they can.
The record: 11-4
Another decent week with a 5-2 record, pushing the season count to 11-4, 73.3 percent.
Cape Fear at Lumberton - Talk about mixed messages. Cape Fear opens its season a week late and loses a nail-biter to a strong Seventy-First team. Meanwhile, Lumberton gets routed by Terry Sanford in a game that included a running clock, then turns around and stuns defending Patriot Athletic Conference champion Pine Forest on its home field.
I’m thinking the Lumberton win was an aberration since Pine Forest was without University of North Carolina commit D.J. Jones.
I’m going to lean toward Cape Fear in this one.
Cape Fear 28, Lumberton 14.
Lee County at Douglas Byrd - A good night is not likely for Byrd against Lee County, one of the strongest teams in the Cape Fear region this year.
Lee County 35, Douglas Byrd 12.
Seventy-First at E.E. Smith - Duran McLaurin brings his Falcons to his former place of employment and gets Seventy-First’s third win of the young season.
Seventy-First 32, E.E. Smith 6.
West Johnston at Gray’s Creek - The Bears look to get their third win ahead of next week’s Battle of the Bridge with South View.
Gray’s Creek 34, West Johnston 6.
Pine Forest at Jack Britt - Every season there’s one team I seem to have trouble picking correctly. So far this year, it’s Jack Britt. I’m 0-2 calling the outcome of Buccaneer games. Last week’s win over Terry Sanford has made me a believer, so I’m going with Britt in a big match with Pine Forest this week.
Jack Britt 21, Pine Forest 20.
South View at Purnell Swett - South View didn’t want to play Monday and face two games in one week as the Tigers open Patriot Athletic Conference play next Friday against rival Gray’s Creek. Unfortunately with the threat from Hurricane Dorian options were few.
The day the game is played won’t influence my prediction. I’m going with South View.
South View 28, Purnell Swett 14.
Hoke County at Westover - This is one of those dreaded coin flip games that could go either way. I’m leaning toward Hoke because they seem to be playing a little better, plus Westover is coming off an open date and it’s sometimes tough for teams to regain playing rhythm after a break.
Hoke County 14, Westover 13.
Open dates: Terry Sanford.
Other games: Trinity Christian 31, Sandhills Titans 14; John Paul II Catholic 31, Fayetteville Christian 6.

Academy to add Bishop, Schaefer to Hall of Fame

16 01 CHIP BISHOPA pair of familiar faces to the Fayetteville Academy family will become the two newest members of the school’s athletic hall of fame.

Athletic director and coach Chip Bishop and longtime booster club president Emily Schaefer will be honored at an induction ceremony the night of the school’s annual J.L. Dawkins Alumni basketball games Tuesday, Nov. 26.

Bishop and Schaefer were selected for induction by a special committee that includes representatives of the school from various areas.

Head of school Ray Quesnel said as the Academy celebrates its 50th year, the school couldn’t have two better honorees joining the hall of fame.

Bishop had been nominated some years ago but declined to be considered for induction until this year.

“With him, it was obviously not a question of if but when,’’ Quesnel said. “He’s been at the Academy for over 30 years.’’ During that time the Eagles have won numerous state and conference titles in a variety of sports. Quesnel said Bishop is respected within the school as well as at the state and local levels.

16 02Emily Schaefer“He means so much to his former players who come back and see him all the time,’’ Quesnel said. In addition to his work at Fayetteville Academy, Bishop has been a football official for the Southeastern Athletic Officials Association and NCAA Division III. For years, he volunteered at the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.

While at the Academy, he won two North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association boys basketball championships.

Bishop said he delayed being considered for induction because he wanted to make sure two architects of much of the school’s success in soccer, Andrew McCarthy and Jimmy Maher, were named to the hall before him.

“This is a special place as far as I’m concerned,’’ Bishop said. “It’s a great honor for me to go in. It’s an honor to be associated with these types of people.’’

 Schaefer was chosen to the hall of fame in the recently-added category of booster. Quesnel said she has served as booster club president for seven of the last eight years. “She’s the glue that holds it all together,’’ Quesnel said. “She organizes all the chairs of the booster organization, makes schedules and leads people.

“She does so much in a humble way and she doesn’t do it for credit. She just does it because she knows it needs to be done.’’

Schaefer called her induction an honor and said it was touching for people to realize all the things behind the scenes that she took care of. She called the hall of fame an elite group she felt honored to be part of.

Farmer leads way for rebuilding Trojan netters

20 01 Jonathan WoodJonathan Wood got a nice present as he took over the Pine Forest tennis team as head coach this year. 

His returning squad includes Kelcie Farmer, who was the Patriot Athletic Conference tennis player of the year last season and winner of the 4-A half of the league’s singles title.

Wood is in his first year coaching tennis, but it hasn’t taken him long to be impressed with Farmer’s tenacity and work ethic.

“I know she gets a lot of private lessons,’’ he said. “She gets to travel around and see a lot of pro events. She learns from what she watches.’’

Wood called Farmer a dynamic and powerful player in her ground game and with her strokes. “She’s an all-around great player and great teacher to the other girls,’’ he said.

As returning conference player of the year, expectations are obviously high for Farmer, but Wood said she’s not burdened by the pressure of dealing with that.

20 02 Kelcie Farmer“She knows her abilities and skills,’’ he said. “I think it’s just a pressure she’s naturally born to conquer no matter what. I don’t think it’s a pressure to her. She hasn’t dropped a game yet.’’

Wood said the key this season is for Farmer to focus on what she needs to bring to the court to help her teammates. “She’s our No. 1 for the fourth year in a row,’’ Wood said. “She can’t get too ahead of herself, just keep a humble mind and continue to live off the skills she’s been able to produce over the last three years.’’

Farmer feels she’s grown into a leadership role on the Pine Forest team and can help her teammates out.

She feels her serve has gotten stronger over the last few years but is still a work in progress.

“I’m making sure I’m getting more first serves in play,’’ she said. “That’s what starts your points. Without a good serve, it’s kind of hard to get into groundstrokes and volleys. Everything starts with the serve.’’

Farmer thinks the Trojan team is in a rebuilding year as many players from last season either graduated or are attending school elsewhere.

“We look at each game as if it’s going to be a state championship,’’ she said. “We’re going to try our hardest and have fun at the end of the day.’’

Pictured from top to bottom: Jonathan Wood, Kelcie Farmer

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