High School Highlights

Miller’s speed part of secret to Bulldog soccer success

17Jared Miller Terry Sanford soccerWhen Terry Sanford’s Jared Miller talks about what makes him such a dangerous scorer in soccer, he doesn’t waste a lot of words. 

“Being fast and being able to dribble,’’ he said. 

But his Bulldog coach, Karl Molnar, said there’s a little more to it than that. 

“He’s fast,’’ Molnar said. “He’s as fast with the ball as he is without. He changes directions a half second before you think he changes directions. His movements are so quick, he’s always a half step ahead of the defender.’’ 

Through Oct. 7, Miller leads Cumberland County Schools in scoring with 26 goals and four assists for a total of 56 points. 

The Bulldogs are 14-1 overall and 10-0 in the Patriot Athletic Conference. They have a two-game lead on second-place Pine Forest, three up on Cape Fear. The Patriot Conference is a split 3-A/4-A league, so one 3-A and one 4-A team will each get a first-place berth in the playoffs. 

Molnar said Miller has continued to fool him each season he’s been with the Bulldogs. “Every time you think they are going to figure him out, that they’ve got his number, he steps it up a notch,’’ Molnar said. 

But while Miller has enough talent to be a prima donna if he chose, Molnar said he’s anything but that. “He’s just one of the guys and bonds well with everybody,’’ Molnar said. “He’s a very good team player.’’ 

  It shows in talking with him as Miller prefers to talk about his teammates and not himself. He praised defense as a main reason the Bulldogs are leading the conference. 

  “Our defense is big,’’ he said, “our work ethic and our defense. We go hard in practice.’’ 

  The Bulldogs are assured of a state playoff berth, but Miller isn’t looking ahead to the postseason. 

  “We can’t let our guard down against easy teams,’’ he said. “We have to keep our intensity up.’’ 

  Molnar sees similarities in this Bulldog team and his 2016 team that advanced to the 3-A Eastern finals before losing to Chapel Hill 2-1. 

  “I think we’ve found our identity with stingy defense, the same as two years ago, and finding a way to score,’’ Molnar said. 

  “Two years ago, we did it off corner kicks and long throws. This year, it’s been Jared. He finds a way to score or set somebody up while the back line and goalkeeper are keeping other people from scoring.’’ 

  Molnar feels the Bulldogs have continued to improve all season and have shown good chemistry between offense and defense in the last few weeks. 

  “If they continue to do that, we might go a little further than anticipated,’’ he said. 

Photo: Jared Miller

Britt plays with purpose in run to volleyball titl

16Lexy Cole Jack Britt volleyballIn her second year as a varsity volleyball coach at Jack Britt High School, Leigh Ann Weaver was supremely confident entering the 2018 season. 

“I think our team is on an elite level physically, with all the natural athleticism on top of the volleyball experience in school or travel (volleyball),’’ she said. “I knew that we were 100 percent capable. Our biggest battle was on the mental side.’’ 

  The Buccaneers overcame any misgivings Weaver had about the mental aspect. Last week, the Bucs traveled to Pinecrest and handed the Patriots their second conference defeat of the season, wrapping up at least a tie for the Sandhills Athletic Conference title and the league’s No. 1 berth in the state playoffs. 

  Through the Pinecrest match, with a couple of regular-season games to go, Britt stood 14-7 overall and 12-0 in the league. They’ll await the news on who their first-round opponent will be in the upcoming North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4-A playoffs. 

  At season’s start, Weaver decided to put the focus of this year’s team on her two power hitters, Lexy Cole and Kaiah Parker. “I told the girls what their roles are,’’ Weaver said. “Everyone has fallen into that perfectly, and identifying the roles straight away definitely helped.’’ 

  As the team met various expectations during the season, Weaver and her coaching staff kept lifting the bar and setting new ones. 

  “The goal for a volleyball team is not to peak too early,’’ she said. “We definitely made sure to have the girls progress at an appropriate time within each part of the season.’’ 

  As for her concerns about the mental aspect of the game, Weaver said it’s something she preached to the team from the beginning, along with playing with a purpose. “If they don’t play with a purpose, their heart isn’t fully into it,’’ Weaver said. “You’re poking around in the dark, for lack of a better term. 

  “You play with a purpose, warm up with a purpose. You’ve got to do everything with a purpose if you expect to do better at your craft.’’ 

  Cole, who leads Cumberland County Schools in kills with 199 through Oct. 10, has played a major role in Britt’s success. 

  “Lexy has stepped it up 110 percent,’’ Weaver said. “She has blown my expectations out of the water. She’s going to UNC-Asheville to play volleyball. That standard was set high for her, and she had a reputation of being a great volleyball player.’’ 

  In addition to being a power hitter, Cole is a vocal leader on the court. That may be as important as her skill at spiking the ball. 

  “I feel like I’m very loud and energetic,’’ Cole said. “I keep the energy pretty high so everyone stays alive.’’ 

  She tries to keep her chatter positive. “The only thing I want to be doing for my team is to make sure that everyone feels like they can do it,’’ she said. “If they mess up, I don’t want them to think they’ll keep messing up. They can just forget about it and no one is mad at them. 

  “I want them to do their best.’’ 

  The whole Buccaneer team will need to do its best to have a chance of advancing deep in the state 4-A playoffs. 

  Cole feels the team needs to stay focused with the same end goal in mind. “We’ll have to speed up our game to match theirs,’’ she said of teams Britt might face in the postseason. “As long as we keep up with the speed, I feel we’re perfectly fine.’’ 

Photo: Lexy Cole

Earl's Picking Column

As I write this column, there’s no guarantee we’ll be playing high school football Friday night.
Vernon Aldridge, student activities director for the Cumberland County Schools, issued a statement saying if we get through the storm headed our way and there’s no major problems, the games are on.
Of course, that remains to be seen.
Certainly we’ll all agree that there are much bigger things in this world than high school football games.
Safety and security for homes and possessions along with life and limb definitely top the list.
But the games give us a diversion. something to take our mind off the agony of dealing with storms and tragedy, and I’m thankful for that.
I just pray like all of you that we don’t have much turmoil to deal with as we go through our second storm of this hopefully soon ended hurricane season.
Please make your preparations and be safe everyone.
The record: 48-14
I was 9-0 last week, running the record for the season to 48-14, 77.4 percent.
Cape Fear at South View - I’m pretty sure Cape Fear can score on South View. What I’m not sure of is if the Colts can score enough points to offset South View’s potent offense. I’m going with the Tigers.
South View 29, Cape Fear 12.
Overhills at Douglas Byrd - This is a tough call. Overhills is still reeling since an 0-3 start while Byrd is much improved but has lost a lot of close calls. I’m going to go with momentum and home field and take the Eagles.
Douglas Byrd 20, Overhills 18.
E.E. Smith at Pine Forest - I don’t look for things to get any better this week for Smith as they take on a Pine Forest team that is very much in the chase for the Patriot Athletic Conference title.
Pine Forest 28, E.E. Smith 7.
Purnell Swett at Jack Britt - I’ll give the Buccaneers the edge playing at home, but they need to be careful because this is one they could just as easily lose.
Jack Britt 22, Purnell Swett 12.
Scotland at Seventy-First - The Falcons have been waiting for this one since last year after suffering two lopsided losses to Scotland. This time, Seventy-First appears to be the better team, and playing at home won’t hurt the Falcons either.
Seventy-First 28, Scotland 14.
Terry Sanford at Westover - Westover is a dangerous opponent for the Bulldogs. The Wolverines are just good enough to pull the upset, and Terry Sanford has had some shaky moments this season. But I think they’re a little stronger than Westover and should get the win.
Terry Sanford 29, Westover 12.
Other games - Northside Christian 27, Fayetteville Christian 7; Village Christian 22, North Raleigh Christian 7; Trinity Christian 30, Raleigh Ravenscroft 8.

Fayetteville Academy honors McCarthy, Maher

15Maher McCarthy2A newly-constructed sign on the Fayetteville Academy soccer field lists the 16 state boys’ championships and two girls’ championships the school has won. 

Two men, Jimmy Maher and Andrew McCarthy, were directly involved in bringing 13 of those titles to the school. For their efforts, Maher and McCarthy have been chosen for induction into the Fayetteville Academy Hall of Fame. 

The ceremony will take place on Nov. 20 as part of the school’s annual alumni boys’ and girls’ basketball games. 

Maher was head boys soccer coach from 1994-2000. He won four titles before stepping away to pursue a business venture with Fayetteville Academy benefactor Dr. William Jordan. 

“I had a group of parents come to me and say ‘please don’t go,’’’ Maher said. He reassured them and told them he was confident a young man who had started helping out with the soccer team a couple of years before he stepped down would be an excellent coach. 

  That coach was McCarthy. “They thought the sky had fallen when I left but Andrew didn’t miss a beat,’’ Maher said. “He took it to the next level.’’ 

  McCarthy, who took over in 2001 and has been there ever since, said he and Maher have a similar vision about how to coach the team. “Every day we’re talking about life lessons,’’ McCarthy said. “We talk about getting ready for games and dealing with issues that will help them in life. 

  “We’re trying to teach the things that will help them become good fathers in the future. Very few, if any, are going to make a living out of the game. From the lessons they’ve learned, they’re going to be successful. I see a lot of our players going on and doing great things.’’ 

  Maher said the two approach the game with the same work ethic and share it with their players. “We worked extremely hard and tried to become better coaches,’’ Maher said. “We traveled the state, scouting teams we are going to play. It was rare we came up against a team we hadn’t seen on at least a couple of occasions.’’ 

  When Maher first wanted to come back and help coach the team in 2008, he asked McCarthy to let him work during the preseason only. McCarthy coaxed him into helping coach the boys and girls for one year. That has extended into 10 seasons. 

  Maher praised McCarthy for his success and is convinced McCarthy could be a coach at any level of soccer. 

  Neither is the type to promote personal success or accomplishments. “The game itself is enough for us,’’ Maher said. “The most important thing is the relationship with the kids. That’s the most valuable thing I get from what I do.’’ 

  McCarthy agreed. “It’s nice to be rewarded, but at the end of the day, we’re in it for the kids, how we see them growing and moving on to do wonderful things in the workplace.’’ 

Photo: Andrew McCarthy (left) and Jimmy Maher (right)

Photo credit: Sonya Bruffey

Scholar Athletes of the Week

24Taylor Melvin Cape Fear scholar athlete

Taylor Melvin

Cape Fear • Volleyball • Junior

Melvin has a 4.25 weight- ed grade point average. She’s a three-year starter in volleyball, was twice all-conference and was a manager of the junior varsity volleyball team. She’s a member of Health Occupations Students of America and Fear Factor. She volunteers with the Cumberland County Parks and Recreation Department’s Buddy Sports program.



25Ben Elliott Cape Fear scholar athlete


Ben Elliott

Cape Fear • Soccer • Senior

Elliott has a weighted grade point average of 4.46. In addition to playing soccer, he’s a member of Science Academy and Key Club. He founded the Cape Fear Creative Writing Club. He has been on the varsity soccer team four years, making all- conference three times and all-region twice.

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