High School Highlights

Bulldog ‘Road Warriors’ headed for Reid Ross field

19 01 Bruce McClellandForgive the Terry Sanford football team if it foregoes the nickname Bulldogs this season and opts for Road Warriors instead. They’re doing it with good reason.

Because the school’s aging football stadium was demolished earlier this year in preparation for construction of a new one for the 2020 season, Coach Bruce McClelland and his team won’t play a single game on their campus.

They will be moving to Reid Ross Classical High School’s John Daskal Stadium on Ramsey Street, which hasn’t hosted high school regular season games since Ross was closed as a traditional senior high school in the mid-1980s.

McClelland said the group he feels is making the biggest sacrifice are the seniors on this team and their parents. “They’ve spent so much time giving to the program, and it’s their senior year and it’s kind of like you’ve been displaced,’’ he said.

That’s where the Road Warrior mindset kicks in. “We’ve taken that Road Warrior mentality, tried to pump them up with that,’’ McClelland said.

This year, Terry Sanford was scheduled to play five home games and six on the road. They elected to flip the 19 02 John Daskal Stadiumhome-and-home arrangement with Jack Britt to allow as much time as possible to get the Reid Ross field up to date.

The Bulldogs won’t play their first varsity game at Ross until Sept. 20 when they host Cape Fear. They got in a trial run last week as they were scheduled to play a junior varsity game with Britt at Ross.

McClelland said the current plan is for the Terry Sanford staff to take care of lining and painting the Ross field for varsity games.

He’s also enlisted the help of baseball coach Sam Guy to make sure the surface of the field at Ross is in the best shape possible.

“Sam has been real instrumental in taking good care of the field over here,’’ he said. “His baseball field looks so good.’’

McClelland said Terry Sanford plans to treat each visit to Ross much like it would a road trip to neighboring E.E. Smith High School.

The players will eat a pre-game meal at Terry Sanford, dress and go through their walk-through on Friday before taking the short bus ride to Reid Ross.

The home stands will be the set of bleachers closest to Ramsey Street.

One good thing about Reid Ross is it has press boxes on both sides of the field, so the Bulldogs should have no trouble finding space for print and electronic media to have seats along with the crews from both schools that videotape the game. 

There should actually be more on campus parking than at Terry Sanford. McClelland said the school hopes to make some money off that by selling season-long parking passes for $30, which will come down to $10 per each of the three home games that will be played at Reid Ross.

Terry Sanford’s final home game with Pine Forest will be at Fayetteville State’s Jeralds Stadium when the Bulldogs will celebrate Senior Night.

In addition to the parking in front of the school, there is a rear parking lot behind the visitors stands that can be accessed by a residential street at the end of the stadium furthest from the school itself.

Tickets will be sold on both sides of the stadium.

McClelland hopes Terry Sanford will be able to visit the stadium Thursdays and have a brief practice on the game field to get used to it.

The tentative plan is for the team to enter the field through a small group of trees outside the rear entrance to the gymnasium at the main school building.

The schools plans a major outreach to alumni and boosters in the next couple of weeks to
make sure everyone knows where to go and where to park. 

“Safety of the kids is the most important thing to me,’’ McClelland said. “All the other stuff is luxury. My responsibility is to the parents and the kids and their safety.

“That playing surface is the No. 1 thing.’’

Picture 1: Bruce McClelland

Picture 2: A view of what will be the home bleachers when Terry Sanford plays its varsity and junior varsity football games at John Daskal Stadium at Reid Ross Classical High School this season

Tucker shares thoughts as high school year begins

18 01 Que TuckerAlthough we’re a few weeks into the 2019-20 high school year, it’s not too late to hear some words of wisdom shared by Que Tucker, commissioner of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. Tucker and several members of her staff visited Fayetteville in August to attend the annual Cumberland County Schools Football Jamboree banquet held at Gray’s Creek High School.

I spoke with her briefly and asked if there were any hot-button issues facing the NCHSAA as the school year opened. She said there weren’t, but added there are some topics that never go out of style with the NCHSAA.

“It’s always just about sportsmanship and behavior,’’ she said. “We want our young people to recognize the importance of good sportsmanship, winning with class, being victorious and excited about winning but respecting the fact the other team did lose and practiced and prepared just as hard.’’

Health and safety are always big issues for the NCHSAA, especially in the game of football where the concern of how concussions are handled remains paramount.

Tucker said the NCHSAA continues to stress to schools the need for preseason meetings that deal with topics like where the automated external defibri18 02 Cynthia Miller Jenkinsllator is kept, who the game day administrator is or who’s in charge if a thunderstorm hits during a game.

In the end, it’s all about the student-athletes. “It’s all about educating our young people to be good citizens,’’ Tucker said. “If we can do those things, I think we will have accomplished much.’’

 • Speaking of Que Tucker, she and members of the NCHSAA staff will be back in Fayetteville on Monday, Sept. 23, at 8:30 a.m., for the annual meeting of school officials from the NCHSAA’s Region 4, which includes schools from Fayetteville, Cumberland County and surrounding counties. The meeting will be held at the Educational Resource Center.

Last year’s regional meeting was canceled because of Hurricane Florence.

The regional meeting gives the NCHSAA staff a chance to have face time with local school officials and to share news about important topics statewide.

Cumberland County will have a larger than normal contingent on the NCHSAA Board of Directors for the next few years.

Brian Edkins, who joined the board as principal at Scotland High School, is now at Cape Fear High School and continues to represent Region 4 until 2022.

Gray’s Creek High School athletic director Troy Lindsey is new to the board from Region 4 and will serve until 2023. 

Also new to the board is Vernon Aldridge, student activities director for the Cumberland County Schools. He joins the board as an affiliate member representing the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association for an unspecified term.

 • Cynthia Miller-Jenkins has been named the varsity girls basketball coach at Riverside Christian Academy in Stedman. The announcement was made by Riverside superintendent Dr. Lin Wheeler.

Riverside is a member of the Carolina Athletic Association of Schools of Choice and played for state titles in 2017 and 2018.

Jenkins was head coach at Northwood Temple Academy from 2005-15, winning three conference titles and one North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association state title.

Her career record there was 106-73. Last year she was an assistant coach at Methodist University.

Pictured from top to bottom: Que Tucker, Cynthia Miller-Jenkins

Jungle Run adds race for middle schoolers

The Jungle Run, South View’s annual night cross country meet, returns for its 19th year on Saturday, Aug. 31, with the finish line on the Tiger track at Randy Ledford Stadium. 

This year’s event will feature one significant change, the addition of a combined race for middle school runners, boys and girls.

South View cross country coach Jesse Autry said he’s trying to encourage middle school cross country because some areas of the state that lack it are falling behind in the sport.

Another new award will be presented to the Most Spirited Team at the meet for its overall enthusiasm and support of teammates during the competition.

With one day left before the signup closed last week, 61 teams had committed to the event this year.

A drawing card for entries is the fact the South View cross country course will host two major competitions later this year, the Patriot Athletic Conference meet and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4-A East Regional championship.

Some familiar powerhouses will be coming to South View to compete in this year’s race.

On the boys side top teams include Raleigh Broughton, Raleigh Leesville Road and Raleigh Millbrook.

Among the better region teams, Union Pines
is back.

Among smaller schools, a powerful Croatan team is back along with private school standout Fayetteville Christian.

Some of the better girls' teams in the meet include Carrboro, Wilmington Ashley and Cary Academy.

One traditional power that won’t be running this year is Pinecrest, which is unable to take part due to a schedule conflict.

Check-in for the meet begins at 4 p.m. The combined middle school race for boys and girls will start at 5:45 p.m., followed at 6:15 p.m. and then 6:55 p.m. by the developmental races for boys and girls respectively.

The two invitational races for smaller schools will be held at 6:55 p.m. and 7:40 p.m.

The championship races for boys and girls are set for 9 p.m. and 9:40 p.m.

The awards ceremony takes place in the football stadium stands beginning at 10:15 p.m.

Entry to the meet itself is free but spectator parking in the lots at South View is $5 per
carload.

State title on mind of Cape Fear's Blackwell

17 01 Toni BlackwellCape Fear golf coach Todd Edge said it seems like yesterday when senior golfer Toni Blackwell began her career on the Colt team.

“Time flies when you’re having fun,’’ Edge said, and Blackwell’s performance has definitely made coaching her and the Cape Fear team plenty of that for Edge.

Blackwell has b een a three-time conference player of the year in golf and was the medalist in last year’s 3-A regional tournament.

Blackwell hasn’t rested on her laurels over the last few years, Edge said, using practice to improve her overall game.

“She’s played a lot of tournaments and is tournament golf ready,’’ he said. “She hits the ball further than she did three years ago. She’s improved her chipping and putting and her scores have improved because of that.’’

Blackwell’s improvement hasn’t gone unnot17 02 Todd Edgeiced by people outside Cape Fear. She’s committed to play college golf at UNC-Pembroke.

Edge said Coach David Synan will be getting a player who will fit in well with the players he’s already recruited.

But Blackwell has one more high school season to go, and she and teammate Gaby Bynum, who placed third in the final Patriot Athletic Conference individual standings a year ago, return to lead an otherwise young Cape Fear team on the course this season.

Edge expects Blackwell and Bynum will again lead Cape Fear in scoring, while the pressure to produce a third competitive score in the weekly matches will fall on one of the untested new players on the team.

As for the rest of the conference, Edge isn’t sure where the main competition in the Patriot Athletic Conference will come from until Cape Fear plays its first match this season.

“We take every team very seriously and we are going to try and play to the best of our abilities every time we go out,’’ he said.

The Colts got off to a good start in last week’s first Patriot Athletic Conference first regular-season match at Stryker Golf Course at Fort Bragg. They fired a 266 as a team to win the match, with Blackwell taking medalist honors with a 75.

Blackwell said she’s been working on hitting more greens in regulation and trying to stay consistent with her game after winning the Patriot Conference regular-season title with a 79.3 average last season. She was the only player in the conference to break 80 for the season.

She hopes to motivate her younger teammates while bracing for the unknown against conference opposition.

“I’m just trying to work on staying focused, not getting distracted and making smart plays,’’ she said. “I want to win regionals again and I want to win a state championship, keep around an even par average.’’

She placed seventh in last year’s North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A state meet. She’s fully recovered from a broken middle finger on her right hand that forced her to play with a splint over the summer months.

“I couldn’t grip with it and didn’t play my best all summer,’’ she said.

Edge feels Blackwell has the potential to be among the top two or three golfers in the state this year.

The key he said is putting together back-to-back good days at the two-day state tournament. “You can’t lose any strokes,’’ he said. “The double bogey is the big thing she’s got to eliminate. If she plays her par-birdie golf, maybe a bogey once in awhile, I think she’ll be there.

“That’s her goal.’’

Pictured from top to bottom: Toni Blackwell, Todd Edge

Earl’s predictions for 08/29/19

20 american football ball brown 2570139After a nightmarish opening weekend to the 2019 season that bad weather stretched from Friday until Monday, let’s hope for a much fairer forecast and games played on schedule this Friday night.
There were no huge surprises for the Cumberland County Schools during that long opening weekend of games.
I expected Terry Sanford and Seventy-First both to do well and they didn’t disappoint.
South View, a team many think could win the Patriot Athletic Conference, got its toe stubbed early with a home overtime loss to Jack Britt.
Pine Forest, last year’s Patriot champion, didn’t overwhelm anybody but they got the win at Purnell Swett.
For the week the county schools went 5-4, not the best of starts but not the worst.
There are some interesting matchups this week that could help us begin to sort out contenders from pretenders.
 
The record: 6-2
 
I’ll take an opening week record of 6-2 any year. There’s a lot of guesswork the first week of the season, so starting at 75 percent correct is a good base to build from.
 
Seventy-First at Cape Fear - This is a big early showdown between two of the county’s best programs from recent years. Cape Fear is still looking to play its first game after last week’s contest with Clinton was rained out and won’t be made up.
Seventy-First got off to a slow start against Westover but cruised home for a one-sided win over the Wolverines.
Even though Seventy-First is on the road tonight, I like their chances having already played a game and gotten a chance to work out some of the early-season bugs.
Seventy-First 21, Cape Fear 14.
 
E.E. Smith at Hoke County - The Golden Bulls got off to a rough start with their lopsided loss on the road against Lee County last week. I think they’ll be more competitive Friday against Hoke County, but I still think Smith will come up on the short end of the score.
Hoke County 18, E.E. Smith 16.
 
Gray’s Creek at Fairmont - The Bears squeaked out a road win against South Johnston while Fairmont had no trouble getting past a struggling Marshville Forest Hills team.
Jerry Garcia had a solid night running the ball for Gray’s Creek last week and I look for the Bears to try the same thing again Friday at Fairmont with similar results. 
Gray’s Creek 20, Fairmont 17.
 
 
Terry Sanford at Jack Britt - One of the surprises of the first week, at least for me, was Jack Britt’s win over South View. Britt head coach Brian Randolph has been preaching the mantra of restore order at Britt, seeking to return the Buccaneer program to the football glory years it enjoyed consistently when Richard Bailey was the school’s head coach.
I think Randolph has the Buccaneers pointed in the right direction, but as good as Terry Sanford looked last Monday against Lumberton, I think Britt will be taking a slight detour Friday.
Terry Sanford 24, Jack Britt 12.
 
Lumberton at Pine Forest - For the second week in a row, Pine Forest takes on a team from Robeson County as Lumberton pays a visit to Harold K. Warren Stadium. Last week’s win over Purnell Swett wasn’t pretty, but the Trojans are 1-0 and that’s all that matters for Coach Bill Sochovka and company.
I expect it will be 2-0 after Friday’s game.
Pine Forest 29, Lumberton 14.
  
Triton at South View - South View is likely still stinging from its overtime defeat to county rival Jack Britt. This was a game the Tigers could have won, but mistakes proved costly.
Triton put up a ton of points in a season-opening loss to Overhills, so it looks like the Hawks can score. But I think South View can score more and keep possession of the ball with Matthew Pemberton carrying it, and that will be crucial Friday night.
South View 29, Triton 24.
 
 Open dates: Douglas Byrd, Westover, Fayetteville Christian.
 
Other games: Trinity Christian 30, Wake Christian 12.

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