High School Highlights

Earl’s predictions for 9/13/19

The first Associated Press state high school football rankings came out earlier this week. The news was not good for Cumberland County. With potential to have teams ranked in either the 4-A or 3-A polls, not one team from the county got a mention, not even in the teams receiving votes category. Our best candidates for ranking were the 3-0 teams, Gray’s Creek in 3-A and Jack Britt and Seventy-First in 4-A. Not a vote for any of them.
There were some Cape Fear region teams mentioned. In 4-A, Richmond Senior, coached by former Terry Sanford and Cape Fear coach Bryan Till, is No. 3 and got two first-place votes.
Former Jack Britt coach Richard Bailey has his Scotland team ranked sixth. Lee County, which has already handed losses to E.E. Smith and Douglas Byrd, is No. 6 in the 3-A poll.
Clinton, which had its game with Cape Fear canceled the first week of the season, is No. 8 in 2-A. 
Rankings of course mean absolutely nothing when it comes to determining state playoff berths or state champions, but they are a valuable barometer of how the rest of the state feels about the status of football in your area.
We’ll keep watching as the weeks pass and see if any of our teams get some love.
The record: 18-5
I had my best week of the young season, going 7-1 to improve the total for the year to 18-5, 78.2 percent.
Now let’s brace for a scary batch of projections for this Friday the 13th.
Douglas Byrd at Westover - This is one of those dreaded coin flip games. I’ll give Westover a slight edge because they’re playing at home.
Westover 18, Douglas Byrd 16.
Terry Sanford at E.E. Smith - Coming off a loss to Jack Britt and an open date, look for Terry Sanford to make a point in this annual battle of old city rivals.
Terry Sanford 28, E.E. Smith 12.
Gray’s Creek at South View - Another coin flip game. I’m leaning toward South View for a couple of reasons. The Tigers have played a tougher schedule than the Bears and I think their offense is more balanced. Home field also counts for something in this annual Battle for the Bridge.
South View 20, Gray’s Creek 18.
Overhills at Pine Forest - I know Overhills is unbeaten, but I have a hard time seeing Pine Forest lose three in a row. This is the Trojans’ first Patriot Athletic Conference game, so I expect D.J. Jones back in the lineup after being held out as a precaution for the last two weeks. 
Pine Forest 20, Overhills 13.
Southern Durham at Seventy-First - This is Seventy-First’s final non conference game before an open date and the start of Sandhills Athletic Conference play at Pinecrest. It’s important for the Falcons not to get complacent after a 3-0 start to the season.
Seventy-First 21, Southern Durham 14.
Open dates - Cape Fear, Jack Britt.
Other games: Trinity Christian 30, Harrells Christian 8; Grace Christian 20, Fayetteville Christian 12.

Brady hopes to continue Bulldog tennis tradition

19 01 Susan BradySusan Brady is in her first year as girls tennis coach at Terry Sanford High School. Even though she hasn’t been there long, she appreciates the school’s rich tradition in the sport, with multiple singles, doubles and state team champions.

“There’s always  pressure,’’ said Brady, a veteran of United States Tennis Association league play through Highland Country Club where she’s competed for state titles and beyond over the last 12 years.

But her biggest concern is making sure she can handle the basics of coaching with this team when it’s needed, teaching players who need structure or help with groundstrokes or other shots.

Fortunately for Brady this team is pretty sound fundamentally, as it earned the No. 7 ranking statewide in the North Carolina High School Tennis Coaches Association first 3-A poll of the season.

Playing No. 1 singles is senior Katy Beasley, who is also a captain. Brady calls her steady and a motivator for her teammates. “One of the things I love about her is she doesn’t give up,’’ Brady said. “She digs deep no matter what. She has this fight in her that’s essential on the court.’’

Beasley feels her strong points are a slice that catches a lot of her opponents off guard and her ability to move her opponents around the court. As for her being labeled a fighter on the court, Beasley thinks that comes from her refusal to accept a match is ever over. “You can turn it around at any point,’’ she said. “I think that’s a good part of how I play. I play for the point rather than the whole match.’’

19 02 Katy BeasleyAt No. 2 singles is MaryAnna Stiles, a sophomore. While Brady called Stiles one of the sweetest young women she’s ever met, she said she brings an intimidating game face to the court and never loses her cool. “She’s incredibly consistent and fun to watch,’’ Brady said.

No. 3 is Lauren McDonough. McDonough’s game is marked by great groundstrokes and good placement. “She is a good tennis thinker,’’ Brady said. “I can see her setting up shots. Her goal is she wants to win her match and be the first one off the court.’’

The No. 4 player is Caroline Beasley. Brady calls her the life of the tennis party with her bubbly personality. “She keeps us laughing and on our toes,’’ Brady said. But on the court, Beasley takes no prisoners, Brady said. “Her groundstrokes are some of the hardest I’ve ever seen,’’ she said. 

At No. 5 singles is Emily Stone. Brady said you can tell from watching Stone she played tennis from a young age. “Her strokes are great and she’s very solid,’’ Brady said. “She brings a lot to the court.’’

The Bulldogs are 3-0 this season through Tuesday, Sept. 3. 

Pictured from top to bottom: Susan Brady, Katy Beasley

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

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

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.

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