High School Highlights

Long-range talks about possible E.E. Smith move begin

21 EENobody’s cranking up heavy machinery and clearing land just yet, but the Cumberland County Commissioners recently addressed the idea of some day having to relocate E.E. Smith High School.

Board Vice-Chairman Glenn Adams is closer than any of his fellow commissioners to the importance of the issue. A Smith graduate, Adams has spent the last 16 years as the color commentator for E.E. Smith high school football games aired on local radio station WIDU.

Adams said the final decision on closing E.E. Smith and moving it to a new location rests in the hands of the Cumberland County Board of Education.

But because of declining enrollment at the school, Smith said the commissioners need to consider what the school’s future is before serious decisions have to be made on coming up with money for a new building if it has to move from the current one.

According to the 2019-20 average daily membership figures compiled for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, Smith’s enrollment of 1,153 students made it one of the smallest public senior high schools with athletic teams in Cumberland County.

Adams suggested the current enrollment at Smith is closer to 900 students.

While the existing E.E. Smith school building on Seabrook Road has been home to the school for many years, it wouldn’t be the first time the campus has relocated Adams said.

Adams believes the school has moved twice previously in its history, once from Washington Drive and a second time probably from a location on Orange Street.

What’s causing the concern, Adams said, is there aren’t enough people living near the current Seabrook Road location to continue providing students to attend the existing school.

“You’ve got to have some kind of alternative and you can’t wait until the end to decide where that is,’’ he said.

Even if the school does have to move, Adams stressed it’s not the building that makes a school. It’s the people who walked the halls and competed on its athletic fields and in its gymnasium.

“That heart will go wherever the building is,’’ he said. “They (the alumni and faculty) are forever going to be there.’’

The big question would be where to put a new building, and Adams said that decision is in the hands of the Board of Education. “You don’t want to go into someone else’s district,’’ he said, noting that Smith is bounded by the Pine Forest, Westover and Terry Sanford districts.

“You have to be cognizant of those other schools,’’ he said.

Adams stressed that any plan to relocate E.E. Smith is years down the road, but now is the time to begin the discussion so as many people as possible who will be affected by the move can offer their opinions on what to do.

“There are always going to be those who are nostalgic and say don’t move it,’’ Adams said. “There are others of the opinion that the school is not the building. I think it goes both ways. People are probably hearing this for the first time.’’

Adams said he has spoken with Dr. Marvin Connelly, superintendent of the Cumberland  County Schools, and said the superintendent is open to all options available.
“He hasn’t put anything off the table,’’ Adams said.

While the school board will make the final decision on what happens with E.E. Smith, Adams said it’s the task of the county commissioners to give the school board as many viable options for what to do with E.E. Smith as possible.

“It’s the county commissioners that fund the schools,’’ Adams said. That’s why he wants to start the conversation now, to provide for as many options as possible to make sure whatever alternatives are on the table will be positive.

Westover’s Willis-Shaw picked for Carolina Classic

20 02 George StackhouseWestover High School’s Traymond Willis-Shaw has been named to the North Carolina roster for this year’s Carolinas Classic All-Star basketball game.

The contest pits the top senior basketball players from North Carolina and South Carolina. It will be played at John T. Hoggard High School in Wilmington on Saturday, March 28.

Willis-Shaw, a 6-foot-6 wing player for the Wolverines, is a major reason the team rolled to the Patriot Athletic Conference regular-season title and carried a 24-0 record into the opening round of last week’s conference tournament.

20 Traymond Willis ShawWestover head coach George Stackhouse said Willis-Shaw has been with the Wolverine basketball program since his freshman year at the school.
He began to occupy a central role on the team after another Wolverine who played in the Carolina Classic, Damani Applewhite, graduated. Applewhite is currently a senior on the basketball team at South Carolina State.

Through Feb. 17, Willis-Shaw averaged 13.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for Westover. He’s made 13 3-point baskets and is hitting 71% of his free throws.
Stackhouse said Willis-Shaw is a major contributor for the Wolverines on the defensive end of the floor.

“When he’s active, our defense is so much better,’’ Stackhouse said. “He’s a very good finisher in transition. Our crowd gets going when he throws down a slam or two. It does a lot as far as giving our guys energy and our crowd energy as well.’’

Willis-Shaw said he’s looking forward to playing in the game and hoping it will increase the looks he’s been getting from colleges. So far he’s had interest from such schools as South Carolina State, Queens, Radford, Mount Olive, UNC-Greensboro, North Carolina Central and Lincoln Memorial.

“I want to stay closer to home,’’ Willis-Shaw said of his pending college choice. “My parents want to make some games.’’

Stackhouse said having Willis-Shaw picked for the all-star team give the school a lot of positive publicity. “Traymond goes out and represents himself and the school well,’’ Stackhouse said.

As far as Westover’s season is concerned, Stackhouse said neither he nor the team is focusing on the unbeaten record and don’t see it as a distraction as they prepare for the conference tournament and state playoffs to follow.

“We’ve been focusing on each day at practice, trying to get better,’’ Stackhouse said. “We try not to look at any game as a big game. All of them are important.’’
Stackhouse thinks the regular season has prepared Westover well for the games ahead.

“We played some tough non-conference teams,’’ he said. “I think we play in one of the toughest conferences, just having to go through that conference and see different styles.

“If we continue to win, we’ll have a lot of home games and hopefully it will give us an advantage.’’

Willis-Shaw said the Wolverines have made it where they are with teamwork. “We help each other with everything,’’ he said. “We play together as a team. We get the work done by everybody playing their role and playing hard.’’

He hopes to do the same in the all-star game. “I just want to play hard, get rebounds and finish in the paint,’’ he said.

E.E. Smith names Karcher football coach

15 andy karcherAndy Karcher has been in the Fayetteville area since 2007, moving here from Ohio. But it didn’t take him long to learn about the rich football history at E.E. Smith High School.

“It’s something that stood out to me,’’ he said, and led him to apply for the position of head football coach for the Golden Bulls. He was approved as the school’s new head coach by the Cumberland County Board of Education last week.

Karcher replaces Deron Donald, who stepped down from the head coaching position at Smith in December. In his four seasons with the Golden Bulls, Donald was 16-31. 

He managed two trips to the state 3-A playoffs, including one last season. At one point under Donald, Smith suffered a 17-game losing streak, but it ended the 2019 regular season with a 43-0 win over Cumberland County rival Cape Fear. The Golden Bulls finished the 2019 season 4-8 overall and 4-4 in the Patriot Athletic Conference. That put them in a three-way tie for fourth place with Pine Forest and Gray’s Creek.

A little over a month after leaving Smith, Donald was named the new head football coach at Smithfield-Selma High School. He inherits a program there that has gone 1-10 each of the last three seasons and 8-102 for the last 10 years.

Smithfield-Selma hasn’t had a winning season in football in 12 years.

Karcher, a graduate of Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, has worked as a football coach at a number of area high schools.

He spent two years at South View Middle School when he first came to the area, following that with a short stay at Cape Fear High School. From there he went to Triton High School, then returned to Cumberland County for a couple of years on the Pine Forest High School staff.He has served as an offensive coordinator and spent his years at Pine Forest coaching the offensive line.

In addition to being impressed with the history at E.E. Smith, Karcher said he found the community to be strong, along with the Golden Bull alumni association.

“The backing for the program is there,’’ he said. “They have the kids, they have the athletes, to be successful.’’

But one area where Smith is clearly lacking is raw numbers of students. According to the latest average daily membership figures provided by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, E.E. Smith is the smallest of the 10 public senior high schools in Cumberland County that field athletic teams.

The Golden Bulls have an enrollment of 1,153 students, which makes them, along with Douglas Byrd High School, the only schools in the county with under 1,200 students enrolled.

Four Cumberland County schools that are also members of the Patriot Athletic Conference with Cape Fear — Pine Forest, South View, Gray’s Creek and Cape Fear — have enrollments topping 1,500 students. Pine Forest has 1,705 with South View at 1,642.

“Obviously, the numbers do make it a little bit more interesting, a little bit more difficult,’’ Karcher said. But he is hopeful that with some success on the field, he will be able to attract as many candidates as possible to come out for the football team.

As far as offensive philosophy, he describes himself as a ball-control coach. “I’m definitely going to have a good running game in place,’’ he said. “We also have enough athletes that we’ll throw the football around and kind of spread some people out when we need to.’’

Defensively he said he prefers downhill, physical football with players that will fly around and make plays.

Karcher said he’s hopeful to be working at E.E. Smith as quickly as possible so he can began offseason workouts with his new players during the offseason skill development periods.

He said E.E. Smith principal Donell Underdue and Pine Forest principal David Culbreth are working together to make it possible for him to begin his new role at E.E. Smith before the end of the current school year.

It is too early in the process, Karcher said, to try and speculate on any changes forthcoming with his assistant coaching staff at Smith. He said he will try to determine the best course of action concerning the staff as the situation progresses.

Karcher feels the timing of his hire bodes well for giving him the maximum amount of time to work with his players during the spring offseason along with the summer to make the installation of his offensive and defensive schemes go as smoothly as possible for his team.

The last dead period of the school year before summer began Feb. 12 and ends March 3. During dead periods, all sports that are out of season are not allowed to hold so-called skill development sessions.

Karcher is hopeful that by March 3 he will be on campus at E.E. Smith and be able to begin working with his new team.

“We’ll recruit the hallways and get more guys out playing,’’ he said. “We want to hit the ground running come spring and summer ball.’’

The first official playing date for the 2020 high school football season for NCHSAA member schools is Aug. 17.

Scholar athletes of the week: 2/19/20

16 britney watsonBritney Watson

Pine Forest  • Cross country• Junior

Watson has a  4.25 grade point average. Her favorite subject is science. She loves R&B and hanging out with friends and family. Her inspiration for track is to follow her sister's footsteps. She runs outdoor track and loves the 100-meter hurdles.


16 02 Colby BlackwellColby Blackwell

Pine Forest • Swimming• Senior

Blackwell has a 4.38 grade point average.  He will attend UNC-Wilmington and major in Coastal Engineering. His favorite swimming events are the 100 breast stroke and 400 freestyle relay.  Science is his favorite subject. He won the Coaches Award for swimming. He loves hanging with friends and playing tennis.

Terry Sanford, Gray’s Creek bowlers claim state titles

14 01 Bowlers Cumberland County was one of the first school systems in the state to begin offering team bowling to its students years ago, and that has been reflected in the success the county has enjoyed competing in the sport at the state level.

This year, the county brought home a pair of state championships as the boys from Gray’s Creek and the girls from Terry Sanford were recently crowned winners at the state finals at Sandhills Bowling Center in Aberdeen.

In addition to the team success, Terry Sanford bowler Rolf Wallin captured individual honors as he was the boys state champion in the same event.

Here’s a closer look at the championship efforts of both teams.

Terry Sanford

Susan Brady is in her second year coaching the Bulldog girls. She was a little apprehensive about her team’s chances in the state tournament when she learned one of her top bowlers, Avery Schenk, was going to be unable to compete in the tournament due to a cheerleading commitment.

An interesting footnote: Schenk is the granddaughter of Howard Baum, longtime owner of B&B Lanes and one of the originators of high school bowling in Cumberland County.

Terry Sanford defeated a tough Lumberton team in the semifinal round of the state tournament, then took on county rival Cape Fear in the championship match.

Going into the 10th frame, Terry Sanford was clinging to a 142-140 lead.

14 02 canaddyBrady was hopeful that her anchor bowler, Zoe Cannady, was going to lock up the win for the Bulldogs, but she was unsuccessful.

Fortunately for the Bulldogs, so was the final bowler for the Colts, leaving Terry Sanford with a two-pin victory for the championship. “I didn’t have much of a visual reaction,’’ Cannady said of the clinching moment for the Bulldogs. “It ended up okay. I felt a lot of pressure and missed that spare. I had to hope for the best.’’

Cannady, who bowls for Terry Sanford but attends Cumberland Polytechnic High School, felt the Bulldogs had a great team that encouraged each other during the final match.

Brady said until the final frame, every ball Cannady had thrown had resulted in either a strike or a spare for Terry Sanford. A junior, Cannady will return next year. The major losses for Terry Sanford will be seniors Katie Silas, Abby Carson and Reagan Johnson.

“We’ve got pretty high chances,’’ Cannady said of the Bulldog hopes for another title next season.

Cannady made the All-State team along with fellow Cumberland County bowlers Jayda Gignac of Jack Britt, Ariel Williams of Douglas Byrd and Donna Kerechanin of South View.

14 03 Rolf WallinMeanwhile, on the boys’ side, the Bulldogs’ Wallin rebounded from a fourth-place finish in the conference tournament to capture the individual state title.

Michael Toler, who coaches the Bulldog boys, said Wallin has always been a consistent bowler.Toler said Wallin came up to him during the conference tournament and predicted he was going to qualify for the state tournament. “He did exactly that,’’ Toler said. “He was cool and consistent all the way through.’’

Wallin went over to the Sandhills Bowling Center before the state championship match to get a feel for the lanes. “When I figured out where to go and adjusted, I had a pretty good game,’’ he said. “You have to adjust every single time your ball isn’t hitting exactly where you want it to go.’’

Wallin didn’t appreciate how big a deal a state championship is until he began receiving accolades from classmates and teachers. 

“You have to put pressure aside and just bowl your game,’’ he said.

Joining Wallin on the All-State boys team from Cumberland County were Terry Sanford teammate Alex Schenk, Douglas Byrd’s Brandon Mesa-Turner and South View’s Nick Robertson.

Gray’s Creek

Kris Williams gave himself a hard act to follow as coach of the Gray’s Creek boys bowlers. This was his first season coaching bowling, and he concluded it with a state championship.

Williams said he approached his role of coach as being more of a manager, with the task of setting the five-man bowling lineup for each match the major role he had to perform.

One thing that made it easy was the bowlers he had to work with. “They are blessed by the good Lord with some natural talent,’’ he said. “They can do things in the bowling lanes that most people can’t do.’’

Williams also said the team had good chemistry. “They really get along and are used to working together,’’ he said. “They really do support each other, more than just cheerleading.’’

The Bears suffered a bad day as a team in the conference tournament, losing two straight to a South View team that was on a hot streak.

Williams expected better after the Bears were second in the regular-season matches. After that disappointing loss there wasn’t even time for an extra practice before the state tournament began.

But the Bears rebounded with what Williams said was a true team effort. “One thing that struck me about the whole season, these kids love to compete,’’ he said. “That’s one thing you want in any sport.’’

Sparking Gray’s Creek in the finals were regular-season MVP C.J. Woodle and Gio Garcia.

“C.J’s got all the natural skills and ability and puts in all the work,’’ Williams said. “Gio has a lot of natural talent and is a natural leader.’’

“We were kind of upset we didn’t win the conference,’’ Garcia said. “We knew we still had a good chance at state. We had to step up our game and be more consistent.’’

Gray’s Creek defeated Hoke County and Jack Britt en route to the title.

Woodle said a lucky break in the sixth frame of the finals helped get Gray’s Creek untracked and sparked the team to the win. “I’m proud of my whole team, how much practice they put in,’’ he said. “It means the world to come home to Gray’s Creek and say we were the state champions.

“I feel we have another state championship team next year.’’

 

Picture 1: Gio Garcia, C.J. Woodle, Hunter Cole. 

Picture 2: Zoe Canaddy 

Picture 3: Rolf Wallin

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