- Tuesday, 18 September 2018
- Written by EARL VAUGHAN JR.
Editor’s Note: This story was written prior to the arrival of Hurricane Florence in the Fayetteville area the weekend of Sept. 14.
High school football coaches are used to analyzing film and formulating game plans for each opponent throughout the annual football schedule.
But Cumberland County coaches were dealing with a host of unknowns recently as they awaited the approach of Hurricane Florence to see how it would impact both their teams and the remainder of the 2018 high school football season.
Up & Coming Weekly reached out to the coaches of a handful of teams who are near the top of their standings headed into what some were concerned might be a lengthy delay in the season.
The biggest concern for all of them was the safety and well-being of their fellow coaches and athletes as they braced for a storm some experts suggested could be the worst one ever to strike the region.
Duran McLaurin of Seventy-First voiced the main concern of all the coaches, worrying for his players who might be displaced by the storm and how the wind and water could do damage to their homes.
“I’ll be happy to have them back, make sure they are all fine; then we can get back to football,” he said.
The potential delay is especially frustrating to McLaurin as the Falcons are coming off their first loss of the season, 36-32 at Southern Durham. Prior to that game, Seventy-First had risen to a No. 10 ranking in the first Associated Press state 4-A high school poll of the season. “Having to sit around and wait only makes me ponder on the mistakes we made in the last game,’’ he said.
But headed into the break, McLaurin’s focus was on safety. “We’re ... focusing on things that are important, just looking out for one another,’’ he said.
South View coach Rodney Brewington, who has the only unbeaten team left among Cumberland County Schools at 4-0, said his players have pledged to run on their own to try and stay in shape if they are away for an extended time following the storm.
“Football is really secondary and we are hoping nobody loses their homes and everybody can be made whole again,’’ he said.
His worry when the team does return is what he calls football jet lag. “Tt doesn’t take you long to get out of football shape,’’ he said. “It’s like a kid coming off an injury. He’s a step slow.
“When you’ve got your whole team away from it, you’re limited as far as what you think you can do.’’
Terry Sanford coach Bruce McClelland said routine is critical to success in a high school football team and being out of school unexpectedly is a major disruption. McClelland said Terry Sanford is dealing with multiple injuries of key players and had hoped to spend most of the week of the storm taking advantage of a bye week and giving some younger players work in practice.
“Not having them on the field to focus is a big concern,’’ McClelland said. But the safety of all the players is the biggest concern, he added, saying several players lost their homes in Hurricane Matthew.
With big wins in its last two outings, Cape Fear had built some momentum, but Colt coach Jake Thomas and his team are now forced to wait and watch.
“We tell the kids you can’t worry about things out of your control,’’ he said. “That’s our mindset going ahead. We won’t know anything until this has passed through.’’
Thomas hopes his players will go home, watch videos of previous games on the HUDL video service, and possibly, if it’s safe, get outside and practice on their own. But he said the first thing he told them was to go home and ask their parents what they needed to do to secure their homes.
After player safety, Pine Forest coach Bill Sochovka is concerned how much time all of the teams will have to practice when they return before having to play a game.
“It was one thing when we were supposed to play on Wednesday,’’ Sochovka said, referring to a plan that had the schools playing the games of Sept. 14 two days earlier before they were postponed indefinitely. “We had two days to practice and we had been practicing all summer,’’ he said. “Now these kids could be sitting, hopefully not a week. Trying to get them back into a groove is somewhat difficult.’’
Sochovka was also concerned some of his players weren’t grasping how bad the storm could be.
“They are waiting to see what happens, to see if it’s for real, and that’s what worries me,’’ he said.
Photos Top to Bottom: Duran McLaurin; Jake Thomas; Bill Sochovka; Rodney Brewington; Bruce McClelland
- Wednesday, 12 September 2018
- Written by EARL VAUGHAN JR.
There’s an ancient idiom that says a man is known by the company he keeps.
That idea can be applied to other things, too, and it’s at the center of my ongoing argument against North Carolina high school basketball adding a shot clock to the game.
Langston Wertz, veteran high school writer for The Charlotte Observer, has long been a proponent of the shot clock and recently wrote a story about how the clock is going to go through a couple of trials in season-opening tournaments this year in North Carolina.
One is the Carmel Christian Tip Off Classic in Charlotte Nov. 9-10. The other is in Greensboro in the National High School Showcase Nov. 16-17.
Both tournaments will feature some top teams, the Charlotte tournament in particular drawing the famed program from Oak Hill, Virginia.
But here’s the interesting part. Both tournaments are being sponsored by a regional scouting service that, according to Wertz’s story, is footing the $3,000 bill for two wireless shot clocks.
Who are some other proponents of the clock? Well, there’s Bobby Lutz, former head coach at Charlotte and assistant at North Carolina State University.
Another backer is Sue Doran, director of athletics for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
Paul Biancardi, a recruiting analyst for ESPN, is also in favor.
Do you see a pattern here? I certainly do. Scouts. College coaches. People from metropolitan areas.
All of these folks have a common ground. They focus on metropolitan areas with bigger schools, more talent to draw from and more college prospects.
These folks need to drive out of the city and attend some games in rural areas and at smaller schools where the number of college prospects is considerably smaller.
My point has been and remains that the push for the shot clock in high schools is coming from one group, the group that only sees big-time prospects play on a consistent basis and has no appreciation for the vast number of schools in North Carolina that don’t have a four- or five-star athlete on the roster and aren’t likely to in the near future.
I hope you checked that price tag for shot
clocks for these two tournaments in November.
It was $1,500 per clock. We’ve got teachers buying supplies for their students on a regular basis in North Carolina. I don’t think we need to strap athletic budgets any further by tacking on the cost of a $1,500 shot clock and then finding the money to pay someone to run it.
By the way, I ran a scoreboard clock in my high school days at West Rowan, and it was a pain to monitor. I can only imagine the headaches involved with a shot clock and getting it right every Tuesday and Friday night.
I agree totally with one person quoted in the Langston Wertz article, Kevin Garner of the Missouri State High School Activities Association.Wertz said of the nearly 1 million athletes who play boys and girls high school basketball in this country in 2017, 3.4 percent of boys and 3.9 percent of girls play in the Collegiate Athletic Association
As Garner put it, “Should we make the high school game like the college game to help less than four percent of the players?”
My reply remains a resounding no.