There’s a feeling of nervous anticipation for Cape Fear High School athletic director Matt McLean, like the coach who’s a little surprised to find his team holding a narrow lead headed into the fourth quarter of a game.
The reason for McLean’s excitement is the Wells Fargo Cup points standings for the Mid-South 4-A Conference entering the spring sports season. The cup is awarded to the conference school with the best overall athletic program, based on points awarded for order of finish in all official conference sports.
Cape Fear, which has closely pursued Jack Britt for the award the last two years, is ahead of the Buccaneers 66-61.5 entering the final months of the school year.
Spring is traditionally a strong season for Cape Fear, with the softball and baseball teams leading the charge. But McLean is taking nothing for granted.
“We’ve made a point since I’ve been here to push kids to participate in multiple sports,’’ McLean said. “A lot of our football players were involved in wrestling and basketball. That helped our winter sports.’’
Cape Fear won an East Regional title in wrestling and the boys’ basketball team won the Holiday Classic basketball tournament for the first time in school history.
But it was in the fall Cape Fear showed its biggest jump, led by the football team’s run to the state 4-A championship game. “We scored 41 points this fall,’’ McLean said. “Volleyball, soccer, football and cross country all earned more points than in the past. Those were big jumps for us.’’
McLean’s goal for the end of the season is for Cape Fear to score at least 100 points in the Wells Fargo chase. That would be seven points up from the school’s previous high. “If we get to 100, we could live with that, whatever place it puts us in,’’ he said.
Some of the school’s better athletes think the drive to succeed in all sports has helped increase both participation and enthusiasm.
Chris Matthews, one of the stars of the football team, wrestled in the winter and now is competing for the tennis team. “You see somebody is successful and you’ve got more of an urge to join that organization,’’ Matthews said. “The future possibility of success has led to more people joining the team.’’
Madeline Shook is a champion swimmer for the Colts who also ran cross country and is on the girls’ soccer team this spring.
“I think coaching has improved,’’ she said. “There have been some new coaches come in and carry things along. A lot of the coaches stress playing different sports because it helps in different areas.’’
“Even at the 4-A level, you need your best athletes participating in more than one sport,’’ McLean said.
The focus for all the teams is to finish the spring strong. Shook said the keys to doing that are simple. “Keep a good attitude and be motivated,’’ she said.