High School Highlights

Fireworks damage Cape Fear football field

18 fireworks debrisWhen Cape Fear football coach Jake Thomas brought his son to club wrestling practice after New Year’s Eve, he was met by a disappointing sight on the school’s football field.
Someone had used a small area near the baseball-field end as a launching pad for fireworks.

Photos taken by Thomas showed a burned out spot on the turf of the Cape Fear field with the litter from the various types of fireworks used by whoever trespassed illegally on school grounds still there.

Thomas said it certainly could have been a lot worse, and has been when he’s seen people who’ve driven vehicles onto athletic fields and left damaging doughnuts cut into the turf with the wheels of their trucks or cars.
But seeing the Cape Fear field marred by the fireworks was not a pleasing sign for Thomas, who estimates he and members of his coaching staff spend in the vicinity of 200 hours a year doing everything to the field from cutting the grass, tending to the health of the soil and painting it for Thursday and Friday football contests during the season.

“When I was first coming into coaching, you don’t appreciate how much time you spend on field maintenance, painting the field, all those things,’’ Thomas said. “You really don’t get a full understanding until you do it yourself.’’

Thomas said the fans who show up on Friday night only get to see the end result and don’t realize the total amount of work that the football staff puts into making the field not only safe to play on but appealing to the eye.

Beyond the work on the field, there are rules in place about who can and can’t use school practice facilities like the football field. Thomas noted that not even Cape Fear varsity and junior varsity athletes are allowed to be on school property working out without a member of the coaching staff being present with them.

“There are liability issues,’’ Thomas said. Even in the school weight room, athletes can’t lift without having a coach there to oversee what’s taking place.

Vernon Aldridge, student activities director for the Cumberland County Schools, said those who used the Cape Fear football field for shooting fireworks were guilty of trespassing.
“If definitely has to do with safety reasons, but it’s also a liability issue,’’ Aldridge said, “having folks on our grounds if they are injured. The liability falls on us.’’

Aldridge said high schools are not allowed to use fireworks at their games on Friday nights because it’s a fire code issue. While it used to be alright when Aldridge was a coach at South View in the early part of 2000, the fire marshal later ruled that it was not allowed.

During its run to the state football championship in 1991, South View had a fan who brought a musket-like gun to games that was fired following each Tiger touchdown.

Aldridge said that practice is also no longer allowed due to firearms restrictions on campus.

Thomas said he did not make an official police report of the incident at Cape Fear but he has asked members of the Cape Fear community to help identify who was involved, especially if they were students, so proper discipline can be administered as needed.

Aldridge said the county will likely not get involved and will let Cape Fear handle the matter at the school level, including any decision regarding offering a reward for identifying those involved.

Scholar athletes of the week: 1/15/20

21 01 Nyielah NickNyielah Nick

Seventy-First • Basketball• Senior

Nick has a grade point average of 3.6. She averages 7.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game for the Falcons. She is also active in the school’s JROTC program.







21 02 anijaAnija Borja

Seventy-First• Basketball• Senior

Borja has a grade point average of 3.7.

MLK Dream Jam pits local public vs. private schools

19 Karl MolnarKarl Molnar has seen the perspective of local high school basketball from the sides of a private school and public school coach, going back to his days at Fayetteville Academy and his current role as varsity boys coach at Terry Sanford.
He’s keenly away there has been friction between the two groups in the past, but he also thinks  the coaches involved share a common bond that should help them pull together.

“I hated there was distance between them,’’ Molnar said. “I like to think at the end of the day, your job as coach is to do the best you can.’’

In an effort to bridge the gap and get everybody at the same table for a change, Molnar came up with the idea of the inaugural MLK Dream Jam, which will be held on this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, Jan. 20, at the Terry Sanford gymnasium.

The schedule will feature a mixture of Cumberland County Schools and local private schools playing head-to-head in both boys and girls basketball games, the action beginning at 11:30 a.m. and continuing through the final game of the day at 7 p.m. A total of six games are scheduled.

Molnar said he tried to involve as many public schools as possible in the event.

Some schools accepted quickly while some others weren’t able to commit to the tournament because they had prior obligations or their schedules for this season were already full.
Molnar said a handful of coaches, who he didn’t identify, still didn’t want to take part in the event.

In determining the matchups for the one-day event, Molnar said he tried to go by overall records and any head-to-head competition that had already taken place.
He is hopeful that the level of talent in this inaugural competition will draw the interest of a number of college coaches.

“We’ve heard from some coaches who are coming to see the talent in Fayetteville,’’ Molnar said. “The hope is as this event progresses over the years, we’ll have all the top public schools and all the top private schools playing in the same event.’’

Admission to all games will be $10 Molnar said. Fans will be allowed to stay and watch as many games as they like on a single ticket.


MLK Dream Jam schedule

Here is the schedule for the inaugural MLK Dream Jam at Terry Sanford High School as of Tuesday, Jan. 7. The schedule is still subject to late changes:

GIRLS
11:30 a.m. -  Terry Sanford vs. Freedom Christian Academy
1 p.m. - Richmond Senior vs. Village Christian Academy
2:30 p.m. - Cape Fear vs. Trinity Christian School

Pictured: Karl Molnar

Newtown finds healing in state football championship

20 Newtown 1Dates of some tragedies are etched in our memories forever. On Sept. 11, we pause to remember the thousands who perished in 2001 as a result of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Many individuals remember where they were when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 and/or when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on April 4, 1968.

Unfortunately, in the past 20 years, there are several dates stamped in our memories because of shootings in our nation’s schools, such as the ones at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, on April 20, 1999, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018.

And on December 14, 2012, the nation wept when 26 people, including 20 children, were killed during the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. While this tragedy tore the hearts of people nationwide, it was profoundly personal to me.

I was executive director of the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and, on that day, was attending a meeting with the Commissioner of Education and the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents. The commissioner was interrupted to take a private call, left immediately, and shortly thereafter the news of a “school shooting” reached the nation.

Suddenly, what previously was important became insignificant as we were all shocked at yet another senseless act of violence. As details of the shooting rampage were released, the incident became more and more horrific. The principal of Sandy Hook Elementary at the time, Dawn Hochsprung, was one of the six adults who perished that day. She was a personal friend of mine.

So, like millions of Americans this past weekend, I was overcome with emotion when Newtown High School won the CIAC Class LL State Football Championship — seven years to the exact day of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Newtown won the state title on the last play of the game as Jack Street — a fourth grader at Sandy Hook in 2012 — threw a touchdown pass just as the fog lifted enough to be able to see downfield.

Once again, high school sports and football in particular, was a unifying activity for a community. Amid the sorrow of the day, this incredible storybook finish by the Newtown High School football team gave everyone in the community — at least for a moment — the strength to continue the healing process.

We have seen time after time when high school sports provided students, parents and those in our communities a means to come together, to band together and to rise above struggles arm in arm. This was but the latest example.
The grieving process will continue for those people who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook tragedy, but this amazing effort by these high school football players brought smiles and tears of joy to a community that has not had many of those emotions for the past seven years.

Bobby Pattison, the Newtown High School football coach, had the following to say after the state title: “The great thing about football and sports in general, moments like this bring people together,” Pattison said.

“These guys had an outstanding year. To win a state championship, to win on the last play, it’s been a tremendous accomplishment. And these boys deserve it. They’re a great bunch.”

The value of high school football for communities across America? We would suggest what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, last month says it all.

Scholar athletes of the week: 1/08/20

19 01 colin baumgartnerColin Baumgartner

Jack Britt • Swimming/cross country/track• Junior

Baumgartner has a weighted grade point average of 4.35. He is one of the captains of the swim team and is on the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Student Athletic Committee for Region IV. He ranks 19th in a class of 495 students.





19 02 Anna MillerAnna Miller

Jack Britt• Swimming• Senior

Miller has a weighted grade point average of 4.34. She is a captain of the Jack Britt swim team and practices year round with the Fayetteville Aquatic Swim Team. She also coaches younger swimmers.

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