Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A couple more photos from Tuesday night

The Hunt cheerleaders are at it again during a time-out.

The Golden Demons celebrate their first championship since 2005.

Congratulations to Fike for Classic sweep

The 33rd (31st for girls) Eastern Carolina Classic holiday basketball tournament concluded Tuesday night with a first, at least in my four-plus years at The Wilson Daily Times — a loss to a county rival by the Beddingfield girls.

The Lady Bruins were denied their fifth straight Classic title by Fike as the Lady Golden Demons won 57-50 to push their tournament-record championship total to 17. It was a sweet night for Fike as sensational senior Jeremy Atkinson led the Golden Demons to a 92-59 pounding of Hunt in the boys championship.

Atkinson finally won the Harvey Reid Jr. Memorial Award for boys MVP while Fike sophomore Leslie Finch (who won a national Punt, Pass and Kick championship three years ago) was saluted as the Eddie Summerlin Memorial Award recipient as the girls MVP.

Beddingfield thumped Greene Central 68-48 in the boys consolation meaning neither Greene Central team won a game this year. I wonder how many times that's happened.

Looks like the tournament came close to drawing 3,000 spectators based on my very unofficial estimate.

Here's another round of great photographs by Daily Times staff writer Ryan Bisesi.

Happy New Year!

A view of the scrumptious spread in the hospitality room reveals the outstanding preparation of tournament director Lee Matthews.

Beddingfield's Shaniqua Clay (11) and Fike's Tramicka James in action during the first half.

Nobody has the sideline intensity of Lady Bruins head coach Debra Pegram.

Smile, Leslie Finch! You've just been named the 2008 Eddie Summerlin Memorial Award winner!

Jeremy Atkinson brings the pain against Hunt and the rim in the Fike gym.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Second night of Classic is always fun

Maybe it's because the gym is usually a little less crowded but the middle night of the Eastern Carolina Classic holiday high school basketball tournament always seems more fun. Monday night at Fike for the 33rd Classic (31st for girls) certainly fit the bill.

I didn't get there in time to see Hunt beat Greene Central 42-25 in the girls consolation game but the boys semifinals matchup between Hunt and Beddingfield was well worth putting off my desk work for an hour or so. The Warriors went on an 18-0 spree in the third quarter to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit and turned the game into a tense, back-and-forth affair in the fourth quarter.

Play was sloppy at times, the officiating was lax at times and the decision-making was, well, horrible at times. But the game was pretty much as good as it gets in high school basketball. Fike's packed, sweaty gym reverberated with fans' reactions to the players' intensity. The kids were working so hard, knowing that a big play in front of a big Classic crowd was worth 10 times more than one during just about any other game.

Adding to the atmosphere was a battle between the cheerleaders as during many timeouts, one or two members of each squad would hit the floor for a series of somersaults that made me queasy just watching them spin. The Hunt cheerleaders clearly dominated here and they made sure their Beddingfield counterparts knew it.

It seems the Classic is back on good footing after a poor turnout at Hunt last year. The Wilson Daily Times (that's us) reported tickets sold through the first two nights in 2007 numbered around 1,300. Fike athletic director John Gay told me Monday night that around 1,162 were sold at Saturday's opening round and about 775 more for Monday's two games. Considering Fike's gym seats considerably less than Hunt's facility, that made for a great environment and I'm sure Tuesday will be as good, if not better.

Here are a few more outstanding photos from Monday night's action, taken by Daily Times staff writer Ryan Bisesi who also shot the images on my last blog entry.

Hunt girls head coach Quentin Rogers, right, gives senior Shantia Creech props as she comes off the floor against Greene Central.

The Warriors take the floor flanked by the Hunt cheerleaders.

Ken Spells, right, helps Beddingfield teammate Daquan Langston up. Spells had the right idea because Langston hit six 3-pointers for a game-high 23 points.

I thought this was a bad shot by Beddingfield senior Jermal Artis (22) but I couldn't see from the other end of the court that Hunt's Ahmad Young fouled him — as it appears here. But it wasn't called and the Warriors got the rebound.

Friends try to console Terrell Winstead, whose potential game-tying jumper was just short in the Bruins' 60-58 loss. Don't fret, Terrell, you'll get at least two more shots at the Warriors this season.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Classic off to a non-surprising start

The 33rd Eastern Carolina Classic holiday tournament (31st for girls) got off to a non-surprising start Saturday in the Fike gymnasium.

All the favorites won as the Beddingfield girls continued their recent domination with a 56-44 defeat of Hunt; the Fike girls continued their recent solid play with a 58-23 humbling of Greene Central and the Fike boys more or less cakewalked over winless Greene Central 73-42.

The best game of the tournament comes Monday night when the Hunt and Beddingfield boys tangle for the right to play Fike for the tourney crown. Both teams are contenders for the No. 2 spot in the 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference. I say No. 2 spot because I don't see anyone beating reigning conference and state champion Kinston, whose junior star Reggie Bullock was in Chapel Hill on Sunday night taking in the UNC-Rutgers game.

But back to the Classic, it continues to draw a big crowd, although the Fike gym limits the number of spectators that Hunt or Beddingfield see in the years they host. I still say the best place to play it is where it all began — Wilson Gymnasium on the Barton College campus. But that will not happen unless Barton offers its gym for free and, like I said, that will not happen.

Here are a few pics from Saturday's game. I'll have more here Monday night from the girls consolation game and the Hunt-Beddingfield boys semifinal.

Former Fike star and current Duke University running back Re'quan Boyette, center, watches the action.

Scheyler Jones of Fike (32) gets ready to can a jumper to put the Demons ahead by 30, so why won't Coach D sit down?

Leslie Finch of Fike brings the intensity as she tries to score between Shawan Daniels and Shonice Pettaway.

Beddingfield's Casey Elliott draws a bead on a 3-pointer.

Monday, December 22, 2008

GSK field includes Rocky Mount and Kinston this year

The Eastern Carolina Classic isn't the only holiday tournament going on in the area. The Nash County Christmas Tournament begins today at Nash Central while the Edgecombe County Christmas Classic will be played Saturday and Monday. The Johnston County North-South Christmas Tournament is scheduled to tip off Monday.

The biggest holiday basketball tournament is in Raleigh with the GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational which runs from Friday to Tuesday at Broughton High School. Two teams that are well-known in these parts — Kinston and Rocky Mount — are in this year's boys tournament.

Here is the complete GSK schedule:

The 2008 GSK Holiday Invitational Tournament will be held December 26-30 at Raleigh Broughton High School’s Holiday Gymnasium. Click here for tournament brackets and please see below for the tournament schedule:

Dec. 26
2:20 p.m. - Girls: Raleigh Enloe vs. Durham Hillside
4 p.m. - Girls: Raleigh Ravenscroft vs. Raleigh Broughton
5:40 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 2): Raleigh Enloe vs. Cary Panther Creek
7:20 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 2): Raleigh Ravenscroft vs. Apex
9 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 1): Raleigh Word of God vs. Rocky Mount

Dec. 27
11 a.m. - Boys (Tournament 2) Loser’s bracket semifinal, Enloe/Panther
Creek loser vs. Ravenscroft/Apex loser
12:40 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 2): Richland (North Richland Hills, Texas)
vs. Knightdale
2:20 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 1): North Mecklenburg vs. St.
Raymond (Bronx, NY)
4 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 2): Father Carr (Toronto, Ontario) vs. Centennial (Roswell,
5:40 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 1): Kinston vs. Southern Lee
7:20 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 1): Apex Middle Creek vs. Arden Christ School
9 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 2): Semifinal, Enloe/Panther Creek winner vs.
Ravenscroft/Apex winner

Dec. 29
11 a.m. - Girls: Third-place game
12:40 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 2): Loser’s bracket semifinal,
Richland/Knightdale loser vs. Father Carr/Centennial loser
2:20 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 1): Loser’s bracket semifinal, Word of
God/Rocky Mount loser vs. North Mecklenburg, St. Raymonds loser
4 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 1): Loser’s bracket semifinal, Kinston/Southern
Lee loser vs. Middle Creek/Christ School loser
5:40 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 2): Semifinal, Richland/Knightdale winner vs.
Father Carr/Centennial winner
7:20 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 1): Semifinal, Kinston/Southern Lee winner
vs. Middle Creek/Christ School winner
9 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 1): Semifinal, Word of God/Rocky Mount winner
vs. North Mecklenburg/St. Raymond winner

Dec. 30
11 a.m. - Boys (tournament 2): Fifth-place game
12:40 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 1): Fifth-place game
2:20 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 2): Third-place game
4 p.m. - Girls: Championship game
5:40 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 1): Third-place game
7:20 p.m. - Boys (Tournament 2): Championship

The Eastern Carolina Classic tips off Saturday

It's almost Christmas and that means holiday high school basketball tournaments. Naturally, the Eastern Carolina Classic is the granddaddy of them all, now in its 32nd year for the boys tournament and 30th year for the girls.

I'll have a lot of stuff here on the blog during the tournament, including photos from Fike High School. In addition, I'll have previews for the girls and boys tournaments in the print and online editions of The Wilson Daily Times this week.

The action begins Saturday at 5 p.m. with the Hunt-Beddingfield girls game.

Here's the rest of the schedule:

6:30 p.m. — Fike vs. Greene Central (GIRLS)
8 p.m. — Fike vs. Greene Central (BOYS)

6 p.m. — Girls consolation game
7:30 p.m. — Hunt vs. Beddingfield (BOYS)

5 p.m. — Boys consolation game
6:30 p.m. — Girls championship
8 p.m. — Boys championship

If you plan to go, make sure you get there early because Fike's gym is, well, 50 years old and not that big and there is sure to be a large crowd each night. Also, metal detectors will be in place at the gates so dress warmly because you may have to stand in line if you get there late.

Admission is $7 for each day.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tar Heels can pull off rare championship double Sunday

North Carolina advanced to the NCAA Division I men's soccer championship with a 1-0 defeat of defending champ Wake Forest on Friday night in Frisco, Texas. The Tar Heels will play Maryland on Sunday in an all Atlantic Coast Conference final. The Terrapins defeated St. John's 1-0 in two overtimes in Friday's second semifinal.

The Tar Heels can achieve something very rare in college sports with a win Sunday. North Carolina could boast national champions in both men's and women's soccer for the first time at the Div. I level. In fact, it would be just the second time one school has won men's and women's championships in the same sport in the same year. Connecticut pulled off the feat in basketball in 2004.

The Lady Tar Heels won their 19th NCAA title last weekend, beating Notre Dame 2-1 in the final. The UNC men won their only national championship in 2001 when the school had a chance to pull off the double. However, the Lady Heels were upended by Santa Clara 1-0 in the final. That was the only time one school had two teams in the Div. I soccer championships.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Lady Bulldogs set a blistering pace

Barton College's 108-102 defeat of Erskine College on Saturday in Wilson Gymnasium has to be one of the highest scoring women's basketball games in regulation in NCAA Division II competition.

The Div. II record is 261 set on Feb. 27, 1988, when St. Joseph's (Ind.) defeated Northern Kentucky 131-130 in five overtimes. Had the Lady Bulldogs and Lady Flying Fleet played five overtimes, I can imagine that record would have fallen.

The most points in a women's Div. II losing effort is 106, which is held by four teams, with the highest combined total being 117. There is no indication in the NCAA record book if any of those games went into overtime but I assume not. That would mean Saturday's Barton-Erskine output is at least the fifth-highest in a non-overtime contest.

One thing is for sure, as reported by Michael Lindsay in Monday's edition of The Wilson Daily Times, the 108 points is a Barton record since joining the NCAA in 1995. It could be an all-time record but there is incomplete information from the NAIA days.

Adding to the impressive factor is the Lady Bulldogs' leading scorer, junior guard Esty Flores, did not play after sustaining a concussion in practice last week.

I know the first thought about such a game is there must not have been much defense. But as exciting as the Barton men's program has been the past few seasons, it might be worth getting to games early to check out the Lady Bulldogs who are off to 5-1 start, including 3-0 in Conference Carolinas games.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

UPDATED: ECU to play Kentucky in Liberty Bowl; State gets Rutgers in Papajohns.com Bowl

N.C. State has agreed to play in the third annual Papajohns.com Bowl on Dec. 29 at 2 p.m. in Birmingham, Ala., against Big East Conference foe Rutgers.

East Carolina will play Southeastern Conference opponent Kentucky in the Liberty Bowl on Jan. 2 at 5 p.m. in Memphis, Tenn.

Both games will be broadcast by ESPN.

East Carolina knew it was headed to Memphis, Tenn., for the Liberty Bowl when the Pirates defeated Tulsa 27-24 on Saturday in the Conference USA championship game.

The Pirates (9-4) will make their third appearance in the Liberty Bowl, which celebrates its 50th anniversary as they take on the Wildcats (6-6) making their first appearance in the game. This will be the second ever meeting between ECU and UK. The Wildcats won that matchup 6-3 on Nov. 13, 1993, in Lexington, Ky.

From ECU Sports Information:
ECU will have ticket, travel, and other ancillary information available on Monday, December 8th. All seating will be assigned using the Pirate Club priority point system. When ordering online Pirate Club member must login first and then place the order. Tickets will be available through the Athletic Ticket Office and by phone at 1-800-DIAL-ECU. Office hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Orders may also be placed online through the Online Ticket Center.

This will be the 24th bowl appearance for the Wolfpack, who finished 6-6. State was 4-4 in the ACC after an 0-4 start. Rutgers brings a 7-5 overall mark and finished 5-2 in Big East games.

From N.C. State Sports Information on getting tickets to the Papajohns.com Bowl:
There are 10,000 seats available to Wolfpack fans through the NC State Ticket Office beginning tonight on GoPack.com. Tickets are $40 and orders received before Dec. 12th will be mailed prior to Christmas. Orders received after Dec. 12th will be seated on a first-come, first-serve basis and available only at will-call options in Birmingham. Stay posted to GoPack.com for details about ticket will-call options.
NC State Faculty/Staff can order up to two discounted seats at $32 by showing a valid NC State ID at the NC State Ticket Office during normal business hours. Students may order tickets for $20 ($40 for guest tickets) online through their ticket account. .
Fans wishing to book official NC State travel packages can visit www.WolfpackClubTravel.com or call 1-800-924-9993 for information. Space will be limited.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Webster to serve country

I got word Thursday that Wilson's own Mike Webster will have a Very Important Duty come Saturday.

Mike will referee the Army-Navy football game, one of many plum assignments he's had as a college football ref. But the bigger aspect of Saturday's duty will come before the game when Mike and the head referee will serve as escorts to the guy who will flip the coin, one George W. Bush, the President of the United States.

Apparently, Mike had to get a security clearance from the Secret Service to handle this job. That's one heckuva thing to tell your grandkids and I'm sure Mike is pretty excited about it. I've known him since I was a little squirt playing football, basketball and baseball at the Rec when he was the athletic supervisor there.

What an honor for Mike, who is probably the first Wilsonian to escort a sitting president onto a football field to flip a coin. I don't know of any others. His fellow members of the Greater Wilson Rotary Club are proud of him as we all should be.

The game will be televised on CBS at noon Saturday so be sure to tune in and watch!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I'm sick of sports melodramas

As an addendum to my previous entry, let me now state that having millions more options for obtaining sports news than I did when I was a kid is not exactly a good thing.

For the past three nights, I've listened to ESPN work every possible angle of this ridiculous Plaxico Burress-shoots-himself-in-the-leg-with-an-unregistered-handgun carnival. There are serious-faced reporters on the scene outside the New York courtroom and Giants Stadium, somberly reporting on this event which seriously deserves about two minutes on SportsCenter and that's it. Now, they've dragged Antonio Pierce into the sideshow for allegedly hiding the handgun. I mean, who cares? Well, I'm sure New York Giants fans might care but if I was one, I'd be sick of it by now.

As if that farce wasn't enough, now ESPN has added the Sean Avery-talking-smack-about-his-former-girlfriend-who-now-dates-other-NHL-players circus. Yes, it was untoward and impolite of Avery to say what he publicly said about Elisha Cuthbert and he's now in hot water with the NHL and his team, the Dallas Stars. But does it warrant more than a mention? These folks turn the simple act of providing information into a full-on feature with analysts, commentary and background on Avery, who apparently is, like many pro athletes, a bit of a jerk.

Show me game clips, tell us something we don't know about the players and teams on the field or court but give that intense drama angle a rest. I'm over it.

Suiter stepping aside triggers old memories

Tom Suiter, the dean of eastern North Carolina sports guys (if Raleigh is considered eastern N.C. and it is for my purposes here), will step aside as WRAL-TV's lead sports anchor.

Suiter, a Rocky Mount native, will still host the station's Football Friday telecast highlighting high school football games across the eastern part of the state.

When I first got into this business in 2004, Tom Suiter's face was one of the first ones I saw when I walked off the elevator in the Kenan Stadium pressbox for the North Carolina-N.C. State football game. Seeing him made me realize how cool this job was going to be because Suiter has been THE voice of North Carolina sports for most of my life.

The WRAL release said he came to the station in 1971 which means he was doing sports on Channel 5 before I cared about sports. But back then Nick Pond was the lead sports anchor at WRAL, then Rich Brenner came along and was the top dog. But Suiter was always there and you knew when he got the seat for the 11 p.m. Saturday broadcast, it was like having a first-teamer out there. He was Frank Reich to Pond's and Brenner's Jim Kelly.

Suiter made Football Friday the big thing to watch. It was a must-see for me from middle school to college when I still had a big interest in high school football. I'll never forget him landing in that WRAL helicopter at Hunt when I was a senior to do a pregame piece for the Hunt-Fike battle that night when both teams were ranked in the state 4-A poll.

I was pretty much a WRAL sports guy back then. Oh, I would try to watch them all if I could juggle it. And when I say "all" I mean WTVD Channel 11, WNCT Channel 9 and WITN Channel 7. There was no ESPN in the 1970s. There was no cable TV for half the decade, at least in Wilson. You pretty much got four channels and WTVD was iffy at times.

I preferred WRAL because of the smooth delivery of Suiter, Brenner and Pond. But WTVD had Don Shea ("How do you spell sports? D-O-N-S-H-E-A") who could be a delight to watch as well. There was Dick Jones at WITN, who had the mellifluous tone of an emcee on a game show and reliable Jim Woods at WNCT, who as a friend has reminded me, used to use that old computer graphic to spit out his predictions for weekly college games.

But WITN and WNCT were less focused on Atlantic Coast Conference teams than they were East Carolina University, which is understandable. And while I liked Shea all right, I gravitated to WRAL more often. In time, it was Suiter whom I trusted to bring me the nightly sports news.

I doubt kids growing up today understand how important that job was back then. As an overly avid fan of ACC sports, I relied on television news and newspapers, including The Wilson Daily Times, for almost all of my information. I supplemented that by subscribing to The Poop Sheet and watching weekly coaches shows and listening to radio call-in shows (remember WPTF's Sportsline with Gary Dornberg? I was on that show several times. In fact, I brought up the subject of Georgia Tech joining the ACC and Gary spent at least five minutes talking about it after I hung up to listen with my 11-year-old ears!)

I don't really watch the evening news anymore since I'm usually working and I'm on the Internet so much, there's not much a TV broadcast can tell me that I don't already know. But I'll miss Suiter's face at ACC games and I wish him the best with all the thanks for enriching my life as a young sports fan.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday turns into good Friday

Like John McCain earlier this month, I stand here to concede the 2008 Football Forecast championship to the Senior Staff Writer. Unlike McCain, the Forecast results are official. I trailed the 2008 Champion by two games entering Friday night with only two different picks from the Leader.

In what gave new, personal meaning to the term of the day, "Black Friday," both my picks — SouthWest Edgecombe and Miami — lost and, more importantly, SouthWest's defeat at West Craven means the high school football season is over in The Wilson Daily Times readership area. That means no more games and my one-year reign as Fearless Forecaster Supreme is over.

Moving on to more important things, The Associated Press is reporting today the real Black Friday was a hit — sorta. Preliminary figures from a research firm show that sales are up 3 percent over Black Friday a year ago. In case you didn't know, "Black Friday" is the term given to the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year.

That 3-percent spike is a good thing. We should be going out and buying stuff. If what I read is true and consumer spending accounts for 2/3 of our economy, spending money helps everyone. I know you're thinking that saving money is the smarter thing to do right now but look at it this way. The price of gas in Wilson today is under $1.75 per gallon. Less than two months ago, it was more than $4 a gallon. I'm no economist but the high price of fuel is a major reason our economy hit a tailspin in the last two months. Regardless of the effect the mortgage crisis has had, gasoline — and the price of it — is the lifeblood of our economy. Now it's pretty affordable again and if you're like me, you probably have about $20-25 after filling up the tank that you didn't have back in September.

So folks, do yourself and everyone else a favor. Go out, spend a little money, eat out one more time a week, buy someone you love an extra Christmas present. It might save someone's job and it will certainly help our national and local economy.

Anyway, that's my one non-sports rant of the year. I'm thankful to have a place to do it.

We've got a lot of high school basketball this week but I've got some things up my sleeve for this space in the coming weeks, so please don't be a stranger.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Long season needs to be longer

If I am to defend my Football Forecast championship I may need two more weeks in the high school football season. That means, objectivity aside, I will certainly hope for SouthWest Edgecombe to defeat West Craven in the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs.

You see, the Football Forecast weekly picks end when the last team from The Wilson Daily Times readership area is eliminated. The Cougars are the last team playing and, as it stands now, I trail by two games a certain former sports editor who watched in dismay as I unseated him as the king of the Football Forecast last season. Considering how similar our picks have been on a week-by-week basis, I have serious doubts I can gain three games on the Peerless Prognosticator in one week. My best hope is for a SouthWest victory and at least one more week of the Football Forecast.

After this past week — in which I went 9-3 and the Senior Staff Writer was 10-2 (thanks Wake Forest!) — my overall record is 117-50 to 119-48.

But I vow to not go down without a fight and I'm hoping SouthWest Edgecombe will do the same.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cobb's Cougars back in the third round

The result from Friday night's 3-A football playoff game at Kinston was not surprising but the score might have been.

SouthWest Edgecombe marched into Kinston and laid waste to the Vikings' best season, burning them 47-13 on a freezing night in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs.

I figured this matchup between true eastern powerhouse teams would go SouthWest's way but Kinston had been impressive down the stretch. The Vikings' only two losses came against quality opponents — West Craven, ranked No. 4 in the final 3-A poll and Wilmington Hoggard, ranked fourth in the 4-A poll. There was little reason to think it would be a blowout.

But SWE head coach Raymond Cobb always manages to inspire his kids to play to the level of the game. Looking at photos from last week's defeat of South Granville in a foggy first-round matchup, I remarked to my cohorts in the sports department that Cobb's bearded visage on the foggy sideline made him seem like a Confederate general in those grainy old Civil War photographs.

I don't think Coach Cobb wants to hear this but there is a bit of Stonewall Jackson in him. There's no doubt he commands loyalty, dedication and a fierce belief in his troops that if they follow their gameplan, they can win. He's been a winner wherever he's been and here are the Cougars back in the third round of the playoffs. But that's where it ended two years ago when Eastern Alamance came to Pinetops the day after Thanksgiving. The Cougars lost 21-20 in overtime of their 13th game of the season.

This time, SWE will hit the road and a familiar one at that. Vanceboro is the destination where unbeaten West Craven awaits. The Cougars began the season there with a 21-6 loss, helped in part by turnovers in the form of interceptions thrown by SWE. West Craven quarterback Brett Mooring picked apart the Cougars with 267 yards but if next Friday is as cold this Friday, look for the Cougars' wishbone attack to have the upper hand.

Should SouthWest advance to the East championship, it's a very good bet it will find NEW 6 Conference nemesis Rocky Mount waiting. The Gryphons were the other team to beat SWE this year, managing a 7-0 victory in Pinetops by stopping Cougars quarterback Greg Horne millimeters shy of the goal line on fourth down.

Now I know that West Craven's Clay Jordan and B.W. Holt of Rocky Mount are two of the best coaches in the business but I would hate to have to play a Raymond Cobb-coached team twice in one season. The next week — or two — should be very interesting indeed for the SouthWest Edgecombe football team and its fans.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hesmer joins a short list

When Will Hesmer takes the field in goal for the Columbus Crew in Sunday's MLS Cup final against the New York Red Bulls in Carson, Calif., he will join a very short list of area athletes to participate in a professional sports championship game.

Hesmer was the 1999 Wilson Daily Times Athlete of the Year as a senior at Hunt High School before going on to a standout career at Wake Forest University.

Without having done extensive research, I can think of four athletes who hail from the WDT readership area who played in a pro sports championship. Most notably are former Southern Nash High School star Julius Peppers and SouthWest Edgecombe product Yancey Thigpen. Peppers was a defensive stalwart for the Carolina Panthers in their 32-29 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII while Thigpen started at wide receiver and caught a touchdown pass for the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 27-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX.

Former Hunt High School multi-sport star Octavus Barnes was a member of the Atlanta Falcons when they lost Super Bowl XXXIII to the Denver Broncos. I don't remember Barnes, who lettered in football and basketball at the University of North Carolina, getting into the game or if he was even on the active roster. He only played two years in the NFL.

Former Fike High School standout Glenn Bass was part of two American Football League championship teams with the Buffalo Bills in 1965 and 1966.

Then there was Red Barrett who pitched in the 1948 World Series for the Boston Braves against the Cleveland Indians. Barrett was not a Wilson native but lived here for many years and raised a family here.

If there are any other athletes from the Wilson area who played in a pro sports championship game, please give me a shout because I would love to know who they are.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hesmer, Crew in MLS Cup; Winslow, Lady Deacs done for '08

Just in case anyone hasn't heard, William Hesmer and the Columbus Crew will play for the MLS Cup on Sunday at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The Crew, making their first Cup final appearance, will meet the New York Red Bulls, another first-time finalist, at 3:30 p.m. EST. The match will be televised by ABC.

Hesmer, a former Hunt High School and Wake Forest University standout, has blossomed into one of the best goalkeepers in MLS this season. I had a chance to chat with him Wednesday night and am planning on a feature story on Will in Friday's sports section of the Wilson Daily Times.

Will plans on putting on a soccer clinic on Dec. 20 at Gillette Athletic Complex with some of his MLS buddies and a slew of former Wilson players. Stay tuned for more information on this huge event.

While Will still has one soccer match left this season, the year is over for another former high school star from Wilson — Wake junior Sarah Winslow. Her Lady Demon Deacons were eliminated 2-1 by James Madison in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday.

It was a disappointing end to a solid season for Winslow, who was fourth at Wake in goals scored with five while handing out three assists. The No. 23-ranked Lady Deacs finished 13-8 with five of those losses by one goal.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's official: Zeller to miss 12-16 weeks with broken wrist

The University of North Carolina sports information department just confirmed what had been the worst-kept secret all day: freshman 7-footer Tyler Zeller suffered a broken left wrist at the end of Tuesday night's 77-58 defeat of Kentucky.

He had surgery today and is expected to miss 12-16 weeks — or in simpler language, the rest of the season. That's a bad break, no pun intended, for UNC but if there's one team that can handle such a loss its the No. 1-ranked Tar Heels.

Look for consensus national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough to return very soon. Carolina head coach Roy Williams stated after Tuesday's game, he thought (emphasis on "thought") Hansbrough was already capable of returning from the stress reaction in one of his shins that had sidelined him for the first two regular-season games.

With a game Friday at UC Santa Barbara and then onto the Maui Invitational, Hansbrough probably needs to be on the floor, in the mix, sooner rather than later.

Zeller is a tough loss but the Heels have plenty of depth inside with Deon Thompson, Danny Green, freshman Ed Davis and even William Graves. Besides, Zeller probably wasn't going to get a lot of minutes with Hansbrough's return imminent.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

VMI at the bottom of the heap?

VMI's monumental 111-103 upset of Kentucky on Saturday was bad enough for Wildcats fans but here's another look at it.

According to this Web site, it was a victory for the wallet as well. Kentucky had the biggest operating budget of any NCAA Division I program last year, coming in at $9,204,755 while VMI was 339th, or last, with a budget of $99,285, nearly 100 times smaller.

Keep in mind this are unsubstantiated figures but there are some numbers to ponder on the link. Duke is No. 3 at $8,010,066, North Carolina is 16th at $5,632,518 and N.C. State is 62nd at $3,130,284.

High school hoops will be here before you know it

With area private schools Community Christian, Greenfield and Wilson Christian having already tipped off their boys and girls basketball seasons, the public schools are next and Hunt will lead the way Friday night at Northern Nash.

Beddingfield gets under way Tuesday at Nash Central while Fike won't start until Wednesday, Dec. 3, at Greene Central.

Here are some things to keep in mind as another great season of high school hoops heats up.

• Fike boys head coach George Drawhorn is coaching his final season, his 19th as the Golden Demons head coach. Drawhorn has 478 career wins at Fike and Raeford Hoke. He succeeded the legendary Harvey Reid Jr. and has been just the second Fike coach since merger before the 1978-79 school year.

• Three seniors have already signed NCAA Division I scholarship offers (Greenfield's Brian McNair to Gardner-Webb and Beddingfield's Monique Spry and Southern Nash's Alyse Hall to Campbell) and there could be a few more by spring. Fike senior Jeremy Atkinson heads the list of area players still unsigned.

• The level of talent on the court this season will be pretty high. Besides the aforementioned quartet, look for big seasons from Greenfield juniors Brian Richardson and Jeremy Jeffers (both of whom have multiple Div. I offers) as well as Knights juniors Darian Cahill and Jarred Hinton, Hunt sophomore Damont Williams, Beddingfield seniors Jumal Rolle and Jermal Artis and junior Terry Davis, Fike junior Jerell Williams and seniors A.J. Hines and Darrus Parker and powerful Detrail Jenkins inside at SouthWest Edgecombe.
The girls side will have Beddingfield senior Shaniqua Clay, junior Casey Elliott and sophomores Ansia Dial and Vielka Givens, along with Jamie DeRatt who is making her high school basketball debut. Fike's Meredith Pruden, Jameka Thompson and Leslie Finch are a sophomore trio to complement senior guard Tramicka James while at SouthWest Edgecombe senior Monique Williams leads a talented cast including Quanedra Braswell and Nyneka Euwell. Don't forget Shante Neal, Hall's classmate at Southern Nash and rugged Shonice Pettaway at Greene Central and Vickie White and Amber Parrish at Hunt.

• The 33rd Eastern Carolina Classic Christmas Tournament, at Fike this year, will be a Saturday-Monday-Tuesday set-up.

• The Kinston boys should still be tough to beat in the Eastern Carolina Conference and ditto that for the Beddingfield girls, who will be without Spry for most of the season. In the NEW 6, Fike and Rocky Mount will resume their race for the top and the Lady Gryphons, Lady Demons and Ladybirds will challenge SouthWest.

Friday, November 14, 2008

B-Mc a McD nominee

Greenfield varsity boys basketball head coach Rob Salter called earlier this week to say Knights senior guard Brian McNair has been named as a McDonald's All-America nominee.

McNair is the second player in Greenfield history to earn such a distinction, following Anthony Atkinson who was a nominee in his senior season of 2002-03.

McNair, known affectionately as "B-Mc," has signed to play with Gardner-Webb University next season. The Knights tip off their season at home tonight against Waccamaw.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Syracuse standout has Wilson ties

It's been a rough season for the Syracuse University football team but one of the Orange's bright spots on defense has ties to Wilson.

Junior starting inside linebacker Jake Flaherty is the son of former Hunt High School principal Todd Flaherty, who was the school's second principal coming after John W. Jones.

The younger Flaherty, who was born in Rhode Island, is second in tackles with 60 for Syracuse, which is 2-7 overall and 1-4 in the Big East Conference.

Jake had an interception in the Orange's 35-17 loss at Rutgers on Saturday and was featured on the cover of the game program for Syracuse's home game against Louisville on Nov. 1.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The ADMs are out!

The N.C. High School Athletic Association released the average daily membership (ADM) numbers of its member institutions Friday, just in time to get an idea of who's going where in the upcoming football playoffs.

In the 3-A classification, there are 93 schools (and most of them will make the playoffs. Seriously, the ADMs are how the NCHSAA determines who will go to 3-AA and who will go to 3-A. Because the playoff field hasn't been set, it's still speculation for many schools near the midpoint of the ADM list but here's how it looks.

Right now, the teams (with ADMs and rank in parentheses) that fall under the midpoint are Kinston (946, 87th), SouthWest Edgecombe (975, 86th), Beddingfield (980, 84th), West Craven (1,093, 77th), Waynesville Tuscola (1,121, 70th), , Eastern Alamance (1,144, 65th), West Rowan (1,168, 58th) and Rocky Mount (1,210, 48th).

All of those teams are either ranked in The Associated Press Top or have received votes. But the midpoint could go either way, depending on who makes it.

Of local interest, Hunt (1,376, 17th) is the biggest 3-A school around while Fike is next (1,243, 40th). Charles B. Aycock (1,239, 42nd) is just in the upper tier while Southern Nash (1,217, 46th) sits right on the line.

The largest school in the NEW 6 Conference is Northern Nash (1,320, 24th) while Nash Central (1,242, 41st) is the third biggest.

Hunt is also the biggest in the Eastern Carolina Conference with CBA second, followed by Eastern Wayne (1,158, 61st), Southern Wayne (1,096, 76th), Beddingfield and Kinston.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A pumpkin packed full o' polls

Here's a trio of weekly high school football polls.

The Associated Press Prep Football Poll

RALEIGH — The Associated Press state high school football poll for North Carolina for the week of Oct. 29, first-place votes in parentheses, records and total points as voted upon by a statewide panel of prep sports writers:
Class 4-A
1. Charlotte Independence (11) (8-0) 119 1
2. Matthews Butler (1) (9-0) 109 2
3. Fayetteville Britt (8-1) 89 3
4. Wilmington Hoggard (7-1) 73 4
5. Asheville Reynolds (7-1) 59 6
6. Winston-Salem Mt. Tabor (8-1) 54 7
7. East Mecklenburg (8-1) 43 8
8. West Forsyth (8-1) 37 9
9. Fayetteville Seventy-First (8-1) 28 10
10. Mallard Creek (10-0) 21
Others receiving votes: Raleigh Millbrook 10, Raleigh Leesville Road 8, Wake Forest-Rolesville 7, East Burke 2, East Forsyth 1.
Class 3-A
1. Greensboro Dudley (10) (9-0) 118 1
2. Rocky Mount (2) (9-0) 110 2
3. Eastern Alamance (9-0) 84 3
4. Belmont South Point (8-1) 78 4
5. Jamestown Ragsdale (10-0) 61 5
T6. Waynesville Tuscola (9-0) 57 7
T6. West Craven (9-0) 57 6
8. Winston-Salem Carver (8-1) 38 8
9. Harnett Central (8-1) 25 9
10. West Rowan (8-1) 16 10
Others receiving votes: Charlotte Catholic 6, SouthWest Edgecombe 4, Wilson Beddingfield 3, Anson County 1, Kinston 1, Newton Foard 1.
Class 2-A
1. Reidsville (12) (9-0) 120 1
2. Jacksonville Northside (9-0) 108 2
3. Tarboro (8-1) 82 4
4. East Lincoln (9-1) 75 5
5. Lenoir Hibriten (8-1) 60 7
6. Salisbury (9-0) 55 6
7. Southwest Onslow (8-1) 46 3
8. Newton-Conover (8-1) 42 9
9. South Columbus (8-1) 31 10
10. Eastern Guilford (7-2) 26 8
Others receiving votes: East Henderson 6, Bunn 4, Canton Pisgah 2, North Pitt 1, Elizabeth City Northeastern 1, East Duplin 1.
Class 1-A
1. Warsaw Kenan (8) (9-0) 113 1
2. Thomasville (3) (9-0) 107 2
3. Mt. Airy (1) (9-0) 101 3
4. Murphy (9-0) 86 4
5. Albemarle (8-1) 69 5
6. Topsail (9-0) 58 6
7. Dunn Midway (8-1) 31 9
8. East Bladen (9-1) 27 10
9. Siler City Jordan-Matthews (7-2) 24 7
10. Jones County (8-1) 14
Others receiving votes: Louisburg 10, Plymouth 8, Elkin 4, Hendersonville 4, Cherokee 4.

The NCPreps.com Baker's Dozen

Class 4-A

Team Record
1. Independence (Charlotte) 8-0
2. Butler (Matthews) 9-0
3. Wake Forest-Rolesville (Wake Forest) 8-1
4. West Forsyth (Clemmons) 8-1
5. Leesville Road (Raleigh) 9-1
6. Jack Britt (Fayetteville) 8-1
7. Millbrook (Raleigh) 7-2
8. Mount Tabor (Winston Salem) 8-1
9. East Mecklenburg (Charlotte) 8-1
10. A. C. Reynolds (Asheville) 7-1

Class 3-A
Team Record
1. Rocky Mount (Rocky Mount) 8-1*
2. Dudley (Greensboro) 9-0
3. South Point (Belmont) 8-1
4. West Rowan (Mount Ulla) 8-1
5. Tuscola Senior (Waynesville) 9-0
6. West Craven (Vanceboro) 9-0
7. Southwest Edgecombe (Pinetops) 6-2
8. Anson (Wadesboro) 7-3
9. Eastern Alamance (Mebane) 9-0
10. Fike (Wilson) 7-2

Class 2-A
1. Reidsville Senior (Reidsville) 9-0
2. Tarboro (Tarboro) 8-1
3. Northside (Jacksonville) 9-0
4. East Lincoln (Denver) 9-1
5. Hibriten (Lenoir) 8-1
6. Bunn (Bunn) 7-2
7. Newton Conover (Newton) 8-1
8. Southwest-Onslow (Jacksonville) 8-1
9. Salisbury (Salisbury) 9-0
10. Shelby (Shelby)

Drew Pasteur's Fantastic 50

NCHSAA 4A Rankings (Top of page)
1) Independence (8-0) 145.1
2) Butler (9-0) 142.3
3) West Forsyth (8-1) 133.2
4) Jack Britt (8-1) 132.2
5) Mount Tabor (8-1) 129.3
6) Seventy-First (8-1) 129.2
7) Wake Forest-Rolesville (8-1) 129.1
8) Asheville Reynolds (7-1) 127.7
9) East Mecklenburg (8-1) 126.6
10) Leesville Road (9-1) 126.2
11) Hoggard (7-1) 125.8
12) Mallard Creek (1-9) 125.5
13) East Forsyth (8-1) 125.4
14) Crest (6-3) 125.0
15) Byrd (7-2) 124.2

NCHSAA 3A Rankings
1) Rocky Mount (8-1) 140.1
2) South Point (8-1) 138.4
3) Dudley (9-0) 136.0
4) West Craven (9-0) 134.2
5) Carver (8-1) 133.0
6) Tuscola (9-0) 130.4
7) Southwest Edgecombe (6-2) 129.1
8) Charlotte Catholic (8-2) 125.2
9) Eastern Alamance (9-0) 124.1
10) Kings Mountain (6-3) 124.0
11) Forestview (6-3) 123.5
12) Beddingfield (9-0) 122.5
13) West Rowan (8-1) 121.4
14) Hertford County (7-2) 121.4
15) Fike (7-2) 120.5

NCHSAA 2A Rankings
1) Reidsville (9-0) 137.2
2) Jacksonville Northside (9-0) 132.9
3) Newton-Conover (8-1) 130.0
4) Tarboro (8-1) 124.6
5) Hibriten (8-1) 124.4
6) East Lincoln (9-1) 123.5
7) South Columbus (8-1) 120.1
8) Southwest Onslow (8-1) 119.8
9) Bunn (7-2) 117.9
10) Shelby (6-3) 117.1
11) Northeastern (8-1) 116.7
12) Lincolnton (6-3) 114.5
13) Salisbury (9-0) 113.1
14) East Duplin (6-3) 113.0
15) Eastern Guilford (7-2) 112.6

NCHSAA 1A Rankings
1) James Kenan (9-0) 130.5
2) Thomasville (9-0) 125.7
3) Mount Airy (9-0) 119.3
4) Murphy (9-0) 118.5
5) Louisburg (8-1) 114.5
6) Albemarle (8-1) 113.7
7) Topsail (9-0) 112.2
8) Midway (8-1) 110.7
9) Hendersonville (9-1) 109.8
10) East Bladen (9-1) 109.4
11) Jones Senior (8-1) 109.2
12) Camden (7-2) 107.8
13) Jordan-Matthews (7-2) 106.9
14) West Montgomery (5-4) 106.5
15) East Surry (8-1) 106.4

The Bills fans are here and they want you!

If names such as Joe DeLamielleure, Frank Reich, Joe Cribbs, Trent Edwards, Lou Saban, Marv Levy, Bruce Smith or Marshawn Lynch have signficant meaning to you, then you're in luck.

Only a Buffalo Bills fan (and me) would know all of those people are former and current players and if you're a Buffalo Bills fan, you're going to like this. Wilson has its very own Buffalo Bills fan club — The Buffalo Bills Backers. The group likes to gather at O'Cools of Wilson in Brentwood Shopping Center to watch their beloved Bills on the big screen.

Not only does this group have its own Web site but it has its very own Buffalo Bill — sort of. As the site says, Wilson is also the birthplace of former Bills (and East Carolina University) wide receiver Glenn Bass.

Don't forget that Wilson's most celebrated high school running back also spent time in a Bills uniform. Carlester Crumpler, who helped the Fike Cyclones win three straight 4-A state championships in the late 1960s, was drafted by Buffalo in the fourth round of the NFL draft in 1974.

This Sunday at 1 p.m., the Bills are taking on the hated New York Jets in an AFC East showdown in Ralph Wilson Stadium (hey! there's another Wilson connection!) So if you bleed red and blue, get nauseous when you hear the name "Scott Norwood" and know that trailing by 32 points in the second half of a playoff game is no reason to believe the game is over, you should be at O'Cools with these folks.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Duke's Boyette to miss rest of season

In a not surprising but still disappointing announcement Wednesday morning, the Duke football program announced senior tailback Re'quan Boyette would not return from a knee injury this season.

Boyette, a former Fike High School star and the 2005 Wilson Daily Times Athlete of the Year, underwent surgery on Aug. 9 following an injury suffered in preseason practice. He will have one year of eligibility remaining.

Boyette was named one of four captains for the Blue Devils. He led the team in rushing in both his sophomore and junior seasons and has 1,072 career rushing yards.

"While we are disappointed that Re'quan will not get on the field this season, we are excited about him returning in 2009," Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said in a statement. "We are not going to play a young man if he is not ready, and with five games to play, Re'quan is not to the point where he could contribute. What is undeniable is Re'quan's commitment to our program. He has been an outstanding leader for our team."

Former Fike principal Jimmy Tillman told me Monday night at the Golden Demons' game against Northern Nash that Boyette is on pace to graduate in May. But Re'quan can enroll in graduate school at Duke, which would mean another year of free education.

In my four-plus years at the WDT, Boyette has been one of the most outstanding young athletes and men I've been privileged to cover. Here's to a full recovery for him and a chance to come back next season when the expectations for the Blue Devils should be markedly higher than this preseason now that they've already won four games, matching their victory total from the previous four seasons combined.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Polls, polls and more polls

I hope you like high school football polls because I'm about to create a scroll-fest by unleashing a few here. I've bolded teams from The Wilson Daily Times readership area.

Let's start with the latest Associated Press prep football rankings, which came out a day later this week due to several games played Monday.

The AP High School Football Poll

RALEIGH — The Associated Press state high school football poll for North Carolina for the week of Oct. 22, first-place votes in parentheses, records and total points as voted upon by a statewide panel of prep sports writers:
Class 4-A
1. Charlotte Independence (12) (7-0) 138 1
2. Matthews Butler (2) (8-0) 128 2
3. Fayetteville Britt (7-1) 106 3
4. Wilmington Hoggard (6-1) 83 T5
5. Raleigh Millbrook (7-1) 61 T5
6. Asheville Reynolds (7-1) 55 8
7. Winston-Salem Mt. Tabor (7-1) 53 7
8. East Mecklenburg (7-1) 49 4
9. West Forsyth (7-1) 43 9
10. Fayetteville Seventy-First (7-1) 24 10
Others receiving votes: Mallard Creek 12, Wake Forest-Rolesville 6, West Johnston 4, Southern Pines Pinecrest 4, Raleigh Leesville Road 2, South Mecklenburg 1, East Burke 1.
Class 3-A
1. Greensboro Dudley (11) (7-0) 137 1
2. Rocky Mount (3) (8-0) 126 2
3. Eastern Alamance (8-0) 102 3
4. Belmont South Point (8-1) 89 4
5. Jamestown Ragsdale (9-0) 73 5
6. West Craven (8-0) 62 6
7. Waynesville Tuscola (8-0) 55 7
8. Winston-Salem Carver (7-1) 41 8
9. Harnett Central (7-1) 26 9
10. West Rowan (7-1) 25 10
Others receiving votes: Wilson Beddingfield 7, Asheville 5, Monroe Sun Valley 5, Washington 4, SouthWest Edgecombe 4, Oxford Webb 3, Charlotte Catholic 3, Western Alamance 1, Kinston 1, Newton Foard 1.
Class 2-A
1. Reidsville (14) (8-0) 140 1
2. Jacksonville Northside (8-0) 125 2
3. Southwest Onslow (8-0) 112 4
4. Tarboro (7-1) 73 6
5. East Lincoln (8-1) 71 7
6. Salisbury (8-0) 57 8
7. Lenoir Hibriten (7-1) 56 10
8. Eastern Guilford (7-1) 45 5
9. Newton-Conover (7-1) 39 3
10. South Columbus (7-1) 37 9
Others receiving votes: Canton Pisgah 14, Lincolnton 1.
Class 1-A
1. Warsaw Kenan (9) (8-0) 131 1
2. Thomasville (3) (7-0) 125 2
3. Mt. Airy (2) (8-0) 118 3
4. Murphy (8-0) 99 4
5. Albemarle (7-1) 80 5
6. Topsail (8-0) 64 8
7. Siler City Jordan-Matthews (6-2) 33 6
8. Plymouth (7-1) 30 9
9. Dunn Midway (7-1) 28 7
10. East Bladen (8-1) 27 10
Others receiving votes: Jones County 15, Louisburg 7, Cherokee 4, Elkin 4, Robbinsville 3, Hendersonville 2.

Compare these to The Bakers Dozen by Arnold Solomon of NCPreps.com.

Class 4-A
1. Independence (Charlotte) 7-0
2. Butler (Matthews) 8-0
3. Millbrook (Raleigh) 7-1
4. Wake Forest-Rolesville (Wake Forest) 7-1
5. West Forsyth (Clemmons) 7-1
6. East Mecklenburg (Charlotte) 7-1
7. Jack Britt (Fayetteville) 7-1
8. Leesville Road (Raleigh) 8-1
9. Mount Tabor (Winston Salem) 7-1
10. Hoggard (Wilmington) 6-1

Class 3-A
1. Rocky Mount (Rocky Mount) 7-1*
2. Dudley (Greensboro) 8-0
3. South Point (Belmont) 8-1
4. West Rowan (Mount Ulla) 7-1
5. Tuscola Senior (Waynesville) 8-0
6. West Craven (Vanceboro) 8-0
7. Southwest Edgecombe (Pinetops) 5-2
8. Sun Valley (Monroe) 7-1
9. Eastern Alamance (Mebane) 8-0
10. Fike (Wilson) 6-2

Class 2-A
1. Reidsville Senior (Reidsville) 8-0
2. Tarboro (Tarboro) 7-1
3. Northside (Jacksonville) 8-0
4. Hibriten (Lenoir) 7-1
5. Newton Conover (Newton) 7-1
6. East Lincoln (Denver) 8-1
7. Southwest-Onslow (Jacksonville) 8-0
8. Bunn (Bunn) 6-2
9. Salisbury (Salisbury) 8-0
10. Pisgah (Canton) 7-1

Class 1-A
1. Mount Airy (Mount Airy) 8-0
2. Murphy (Murphy) 9-0
3. Louisburg (Louisburg) 7-1
4. James Kenan (Warsaw) 8-0
5. Thomasville (Thomasville) 9-0
6. East Bladen (Elizabethtown) 8-1
7. Albermarle (Albemarle) 7-1
8. Jones Senior (Trenton) 7-1
9. Midway (Dunn) 7-1
10. Topsail Senior (Hampstead) 8-0

Finally, there's Drew Pasteur's Fantastic 50

NCHSAA 4A Rankings
1) Independence (7-0) 146.3
2) Butler (8-0) 143.0
3) West Forsyth (7-1) 132.8
4) Jack Britt (7-1) 130.8
5) Mount Tabor (7-1) 128.7
6) Wake Forest-Rolesville (7-1) 128.7
7) Seventy-First (7-1) 128.1
8) Asheville Reynolds (7-1) 127.5
9) East Mecklenburg (7-1) 126.5
10) Millbrook (7-1) 126.4
11) Hoggard (6-1) 125.8
12) Mallard Creek (9-0) 125.1
13) West Charlotte (5-3) 124.8
14) East Burke (5-3) 124.6
15) East Forsyth (7-1) 124.1

NCHSAA 3A Rankings
1) Rocky Mount (7-1) 139.7
2) South Point (8-1) 139.1
3) Dudley (8-0) 135.0
4) West Craven (8-0) 133.9
5) Carver (7-1) 131.9
6) Tuscola (8-0) 127.2
7) Southwest Edgecombe (5-2) 126.9
8) Charlotte Catholic (7-2) 125.6
9) Eastern Alamance (8-0) 125.1
10) Kings Mountain (5-3) 124.2
11) West Rowan (7-1) 122.2
12) Forestview (5-3) 122.2
13) Beddingfield (8-0) 121.7
14) Hertford County (7-2) 120.8
15) Asheville (5-2) 120.5

NCHSAA 2A Rankings
1) Reidsville (8-0) 139.2
2) Newton-Conover (7-1) 130.8
3) Jacksonville Northside (8-0) 128.7
4) Hibriten (7-1) 125.3
5) East Lincoln (8-1) 124.6
6) Tarboro (7-1) 124.5
7) Southwest Onslow (8-0) 122.2
8) Bunn (6-2) 118.7
9) South Columbus (7-1) 118.3
10) Lincolnton (6-2) 117.8
11) Northeastern (7-1) 117.3
12) Shelby (5-3) 116.6
13) Eastern Guilford (7-1) 115.5
14) Pisgah (7-1) 114.4
15) East Duplin (5-3) 113.0

NCHSAA 1A Rankings
1) James Kenan (8-0) 130.2
2) Thomasville (9-0) 126.6
3) Mount Airy (8-0) 119.3
4) Murphy (9-0) 118.2
5) Louisburg (7-1) 115.1
6) Albemarle (7-1) 112.3
7) Topsail (8-0) 111.3
8) Midway (7-1) 111.0
9) Jones Senior (7-1) 110.2
10) Jordan-Matthews (6-2) 108.6
11) Hendersonville (8-1) 107.4
12) East Bladen (8-1) 107.2
13) Plymouth (7-1) 106.7
14) West Montgomery (4-4) 106.4
15) Camden (6-2) 105.1

CBA wins ECC tournament

Charles B. Aycock defeated Hunt 4-2 in the finals of the 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference boys soccer tournament in Pikeville on Wednesday evening.

The Golden Falcons get the No. 1 seed from the ECC in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs, which begin next week. Aycock will play a wild card entry.

Hunt, on the other hand, gets .... Fike. The Warriors and Demons split their pair of regular-season meetings. The game, which will be played at Hunt, is either Tuesday or Wednesday.

The winner will get a second-round match with the winner of the No. 1 seed from the Northeastern Coastal Conference and the No. 2 from the Coastal Conference. After that, No. 8 state-ranked Jacksonville lurks in the bracket.

Beddingfield, the ECC's No. 4 seed, will take on Northern Nash, the top seed from the NEW 6 Conference.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pirates, Mountaineers to renew rivalry

East Carolina University announced Tuesday it will renew its football rivalry with Appalachian State University next September.

The game will be played in Greenville on Sept. 5 and revive an in-state rivalry that began in 1932. The Mountaineers have won 29 of the 39 meetings. The last time the teams played was Nov. 3, 1979.

Now all we need is for Barton College to bring back its football program and get on the schedules of these two old rivals...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Greenfield basketball drawing some big-time attention

Some interesting news comes out of Greenfield where basketball season is just around the corner. The talented cast under head coach Rob Salter has attracted the attention of many college coaches, including Virginia's Dave Leitao, who was in Wilson last week. His target? Knights junior 6-foot-6 wing Brian Richardson, who was offered a scholarship, Salter told me today.

Richardson been contacted by several top-level programs and a host of mid-major teams but, Salter said, probably won't decide until after the season.

Richardson's teammate and good friend Brian McNair has given a verbal commitment to Gardner-Webb and plans to make it official with the NCAA Division I program next month during the signing period.

Also getting looks are juniors Darian Cahill and Jarred Hinton.

Former Hunt standout Jeremy Jeffers is now at Greenfield but the Knights lost promising youngster Damont Williams, who opted to attend Hunt this season.

Steele coming back to Tobs; tickets on sale for Reds in Five County Stadium

As the baseball season is heading for its last week, I've got a couple of items for next year.

The Wilson Tobs announced Monday that Jeff Steele will be back to manage the summer collegiate baseball team for the fifth straight season.

Steele has become an icon of sorts for summer baseball in Wilson and his Tobs teams have played exciting baseball in the past four seasons. Glad to hear that Jeff will be back in town next May because the Tobs wouldn't be the same without him.

Some more baseball news for Carolina Mudcats fans. Tickets will go on sale Wednesday for an exhibition game featuring the Double-A Southern League team's new major league affiliate, the Cincinnati Reds, on Friday, April 3.

The Reds opposition will be an all-star team of talent from the Cincinnati farm system. Tickets can be purchased over the phone using a major credit card by calling 919-269-2287 or by visiting the Mudcats Web site. Tickets will also be sold at Five County Stadium.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Busy Saturday of high school playoff action

There was a lot of high school playoff action going on Saturday and here are the results I've got thus far.

In the N.C. High School Athletic Association volleyball 3-A playoffs, Beddingfield beat Fike in four games while Hunt swept Northeast Guilford and C.B. Aycock was eliminated at West Brunswick in three games.

Hunt will host Havelock in the second round Tuesday and Beddingfield will travel to Currituck.

In the 1-A classification, North Johnston swept Hobbton and the Lady Panthers will visit Midway on Tuesday.

Greene Central was ousted in three games from the 2-A playoffs by defending champion Cardinal Gibbons of Raleigh.

In the 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference boys soccer tournament, Beddingfield lost to Southern Wayne 1-0. The Bruins now await their assignment in the NCHSAA playoffs — as long as Southern Wayne doesn't win the ECC tourney and take the No. 4 seed for itself.

In the other ECC semifinal, Eastern Wayne earned a berth opposite Hunt in Monday's semifinals by beating Kinston 6-1.

Finally, the NCHSAA 3-A East Regional girls tennis tournament was suspended by rain again. However, the finals are set with Fike's Mary-Katherine Prince facing teammate, doubles partner and friend Connor Allegood in the final, which will be played Monday at 4 p.m. at Barton College Tennis Complex.

In doubles, Fike's Mallory Short-Meredith Pruden defeated Rocky Mount's Caroline Gray-Kate Gray in the semifinals and will take on another Lady Gryphons duo, Addie Keeter-Lindsay Thomas, in the final Monday.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sunday evening meditations

There was little time for reflection this Saturday morning so 36 hours later things have settled down, the 20-month-old terror is nestled in his crib and I'm finally able to think properly — meditate even.

Friday night went pretty much as I thought it would on the area high school football scene. Hunt's freefall continued with a 29-10 loss at Kinston. I wish I knew the last time the Warriors lost to the Vikings but it might have been back in the old 4-A Big East Conference days.

I can't say what Hunt's problem is. I know injuries have taken their toll but 1-6 can't all be blamed on injuries. I wonder if the Warriors just have the personnel they once had. Size is down on the Hunt roster and the skill positions seem limited. Sophomore quarterback Tyrell Vinson has struggled at times but that's more a youth issue than ability.

Still you can't count the Warriors out of the 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference race and, if nothing else, they could be the team to hand Beddingfield its first loss when the rivals meet for the final time as ECC foes in the regular-season finale.

The Bruins had a prototypical performance Friday night. And I say that not only because they scored 41 straight points on Charles B. Aycock but also because Beddingfield dug a 21-0 hole for itself. It was the best and the worst of the Bruins.

Beddingfield clearly has the ability to make big plays and any team like that is dangerous but the Bruins continue to be a danger to themselves as well. Someone might catch them napping and be able to hold onto a lead like CBA couldn't.

One team that really hasn't beaten itself all season is Fike. The Golden Demons have made a few mistakes (such as the pair of red-zone fumbles in the 34-28 loss to Beddingfield two weeks ago) but for the most part have played as consistently as any high school team could expect to play. That's why Fike has five wins in seven games. Both the Demons losses were by tight margins to good teams playing at home.

I know I haven't given Fike the respect it deserves when it comes to my weekly picks this season but it doesn't mean I haven't recognized the Demons have been putting out the steadiest product of any Wilson team all fall. But the 3-A NEW 6 Conference is tough, tough, tough and Fike will have to figure out a way to get back that loss at SouthWest Edgecombe on Friday night. Doing it at Rocky Mount would be a great way to end the regular season.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Update on Div. I soccer players from Wilson

Taking a peek at area athletes on the NCAA Division I soccer scene, former Fike star Sarah Winslow continues to enjoy a solid junior season at No. 15-ranked Wake Forest.

Winslow has scored five goals and added a pair of assists (including one against No. 2 North Carolina on Sunday night) for 12 points, third-best on the Lady Demon Deacons who will visit No. 11 Duke on Thursday night.

Making an impression in his freshman season at Appalachian State is former Wilson Youth Soccer Association star Collin Taylor. The Mountaineers goalkeeper, who graduated from Morganton Freedom High, has started all 11 games and registered four shutouts and 54 saves.

Despite making seven saves, Taylor was unable to stop Elon University from taking a 2-1 victory in Boone on Tuesday night. The Phoenix did not require the services of freshman defender Austen King, who helped Fike reach the state 3-A championship match last fall. King has played sparingly (four games, starting once) but is behind 2007 team MVP Steven Kinney and returning starter Clint Collins on the depth chart.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hesmer, Crew rolling along

Don't look now but William Hesmer is ranked among the top goalkeepers in Major League Soccer.

Hesmer, a Wilson native and Hunt High School graduate, has the third-best goals-against average with a 1.15 and has recorded nine shutouts for the Columbus Crew. The Crew, by the way, has easily clinched a berth in the MLS Cup playoffs with a league-high 53 points.

The Crew, which clinched the Eastern Conference championship with a 1-0 defeat of the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday, needs three points in their final five matches to secure the MLS Supporters Shield. The Shield goes to the MLS team with the best regular-season record.

Good luck to William and the Crew as they begin their MLS Cup quest.

Check out the video links on his bio page.

Ginyard's season off on a bad foot

The basketball season for North Carolina senior guard Marcus Ginyard got off on a bad foot, literally.

The Tar Heels defensive player of the year for the past two seasons had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot Wednesday morning. He is expected to be out of action for eight weeks which would make him miss UNC's first eight or nine games.

But better now than later, says Heels head coach Roy Williams.

"You hate this for Marcus because he has worked so hard to get ready for his senior season, but he decided it was better to have the surgery now and be ready sometime in December, than risk a more substantial injury that would knock him out of action later in the season," Williams said in a release. "We will miss his play on both ends of the floor as well as his leadership with the young players. I am hopeful others will step forward to fill those roles. Marcus has been a joy to coach and I look forward to his return."

Ginyard started all 39 games last season, averaging 6.9 points and 4.5 rebounds.

The Fantastic 50 for Oct. 7

Drew Pasteur weighs in with his Fantastic 50 for this week.

NC Rankings and Predictions
(posted Oct. 7, 2008, through Monday's games)
Drew Pasteur's NC Fantastic 50
1) Independence (5-0, 4A) 147.1
2) Butler (6-0, 4A) 141.5
3) Rocky Mount (5-1, 3A) 139.6
4) Reidsville (6-0, 2A) 139.1
5) Dudley (7-0, 3A) 138.8
6) Charlotte Christian (6-0, NCISAA D-I) 138.5
7) Newton-Conover (6-0, 2A) 134.6
8) South Point (6-1, 3A) 134.3
9) Carver (5-1, 3A) 133.8
10) Charlotte Country Day (5-1, NCISAA D-I) 132.8
11) West Craven (6-0, 3A) 132.7
12) James Kenan (6-0, 1A) 132.5
13) Seventy-First (6-0, 4A) 131.7
14) Davie County (5-1, 4A) 130.5
15) West Forsyth (5-1, 4A) 130.4
16) East Mecklenburg (6-0, 4A) 129.6
17) Millbrook (6-1, 4A) 129.1
18) Tuscola (6-0, 3A) 129.0
19) Thomasville (7-0, 1A) 128.7
20) Richmond County (4-1-1, 4A) 128.2
21) Hoggard (4-1, 4A) 127.6
22) Charlotte Latin (4-2, NCISAA D-I) 127.2
23) Asheville Reynolds (5-1, 4A) 127.0
24) Charlotte Catholic (5-2, 3A) 126.1
25) Wake Forest-Rolesville (5-1, 4A) 126.0
26) Jack Britt (5-1, 4A) 125.7
27) Jacksonville Northside (6-0, 2A) 125.7
28) West Charlotte (4-3, 4A) 125.7
29) West Rowan (5-1, 3A) 125.3
30) Eastern Alamance (6-0, 3A) 124.9
31) East Burke (3-3, 4A) 123.9
32) East Forsyth (5-1, 4A) 123.9
33) Southwest Onslow (6-0, 2A) 123.8
34) Page (3-3, 4A) 123.7
35) Southwest Edgecombe (4-1, 3A) 123.6
36) Crest (4-2, 4A) 123.4
37) Mount Tabor (5-1, 4A) 123.0
38) East Lincoln (6-1, 2A) 123.0
39) Hibriten (6-0, 2A) 122.9
40) Tarboro (5-1, 2A) 122.8
41) Broughton (5-2, 4A) 122.6
42) Nash Central (3-3, 3A) 122.6
43) Forestview (4-2, 3A) 122.5
44) Southern Durham (4-2, 4A) 122.0
45) Mallard Creek (7-0, 4A) 121.8
46) Beddingfield (6-0, 3A) 121.7
47) Leesville Road (6-1, 4A) 121.2
48) Harnett Central (6-0, 3A) 120.8
49) Shelby (4-2, 2A) 120.6
50) Hertford County (5-2, 3A) 120.6

NCHSAA 4A Rankings
1) Independence (5-0) 147.1
2) Butler (6-0) 141.5
3) Seventy-First (6-0) 131.7
4) Davie County (5-1) 130.5
5) West Forsyth (5-1) 130.4
6) East Mecklenburg (6-0) 129.6
7) Millbrook (6-1) 129.1
8) Richmond County (4-1-1) 128.2
9) Hoggard (4-1) 127.6
10) Asheville Reynolds (5-1) 127.0
11) Wake Forest-Rolesville (5-1) 126.0
12) Jack Britt (5-1) 125.7
13) West Charlotte (4-3) 125.7
14) East Burke (3-3) 123.9
15) East Forsyth (5-1) 123.9

NCHSAA 3A Rankings
1) Rocky Mount (5-1) 139.6
2) Dudley (7-0) 138.8
3) South Point (6-1) 134.3
4) Carver (5-1) 133.8
5) West Craven (6-0) 132.7
6) Tuscola (6-0) 129.0
7) Charlotte Catholic (5-2) 126.1
8) West Rowan (5-1) 125.3
9) Eastern Alamance (6-0) 124.9
10) Southwest Edgecombe (4-1) 123.6
11) Nash Central (3-3) 122.6
12) Forestview (4-2) 122.5
13) Beddingfield (6-0) 121.7
14) Harnett Central (6-0) 120.8
15) Hertford County (5-2) 120.6

NCHSAA 2A Rankings
1) Reidsville (6-0) 139.1
2) Newton-Conover (6-0) 134.6
3) Jacksonville Northside (6-0) 125.7
4) Southwest Onslow (6-0) 123.8
5) East Lincoln (6-1) 123.0
6) Hibriten (6-0) 122.9
7) Tarboro (5-1) 122.8
8) Shelby (4-2) 120.6
9) Bunn (4-2) 119.1
10) Eastern Guilford (6-0) 119.0
11) Lincolnton (5-2) 118.4
12) Pisgah (5-1) 117.5
13) South Columbus (5-1) 116.2
14) Northeastern (6-1) 115.7
15) East Duplin (4-2) 115.5

NCHSAA 1A Rankings
1) James Kenan (6-0) 132.5
2) Thomasville (7-0) 128.7
3) Mount Airy (6-0) 119.6
4) Murphy (7-0) 115.5
5) Louisburg (5-1) 114.8
6) Topsail (6-0) 113.8
7) Jones Senior (5-1) 111.0
8) Albemarle (5-1) 110.1
9) Jordan-Matthews (6-1) 108.9
10) Midway (6-0) 108.8
11) East Bladen (6-1) 108.2
12) Pender County (4-3) 107.5
13) Hendersonville (6-1) 105.2
14) Robbinsville (7-0) 105.2
15) West Montgomery (3-3) 104.1

Predictions for this week's games
Ayden-Grifton (3-3, 1A) by 24 (96%) at Rosewood (1-5, 1A)
#46 Beddingfield (6-0, 3A) by 19 (91%) at Aycock (2-4, 3A)
Eastern Wayne (3-3, 3A) by 7 (69%) vs Southern Wayne (1-5, 3A)
Greene Central (2-4, 2A) by 3 (58%) at North Pitt (3-3, 2A)
Kinston (4-2, 3A) by 11 (78%) vs Hunt (1-5, 3A)
#42 Nash Central (3-3, 3A) by 22 (94%) vs Southern Nash (3-2, 3A)
North Johnston (1-5, 1A) by 14 (83%) vs North Duplin (2-4, 1A)
North Lenoir (3-3, 2A) by 5 (64%) at Farmville (0-6, 2A)
Princeton (2-4, 1A) by 16 (87%) at Spring Creek (0-6, 1A)
#3 Rocky Mount (5-1, 3A) by 40 (99%) vs Northern Nash (1-5, 3A)
#35 Southwest Edgecombe (4-1, 3A) by 7 (69%) vs Fike (5-1, 3A)
#40 Tarboro (5-1, 2A) by 9 (74%) vs Goldsboro (4-1-1, 2A)

AP high school football poll for Oct. 7

RALEIGH — The Associated Press state high school football poll for North Carolina for the week of Oct. 7, first-place votes in parentheses, records and total points as voted upon by a statewide panel of prep sports writers:

1. Charlotte Independence (12) (4-0) 138 1
2. Matthews Butler (2) (5-0) 128 2
3. Fayetteville Britt (5-1) 78 6
T4. Davie County (5-1) 67 5
T4. East Mecklenburg (5-0) 67 8
6. Fayetteville Seventy-First (6-0) 58 T10
7. Wilmington Hoggard (4-1) 46 7
8. Raleigh Millbrook (6-1) 39 3
9. Winston-Salem Mt. Tabor (6-1) 38 9
10. Asheville Reynolds (5-1) 37 T10
Others receiving votes: Richmond County 21, Raleigh Leesville Road 16, West Forsyth 13, Mallard Creek 12, West Johnston 7, Wake Forest-Rolesville 3, Raleigh Wakefield 1, East Burke 1.

1. Greensboro Dudley (9) (6-0) 135 1
2. Rocky Mount (5) (5-1) 131 2
3. Eastern Alamance (6-0) 99 3
4. Belmont South Point (6-1) 78 5
5. Jamestown Ragsdale (6-0) 77 4
6. West Craven (6-0) 66 6
7. Waynesville Tuscola (6-0) 58 7
8. Winston-Salem Carver (5-1) 47 8
9. Harnett Central (5-1) 22 9
10. West Rowan (5-1) 18
Others receiving votes: Oxford Webb 17, SouthWest Edgecombe 6, Monroe Sun Valley 5, Charlotte Catholic 3, Wilson Beddingfield 3, Asheville 2, Mooresville 1, North Buncombe 1, Kinston 1.

1. Reidsville (14) (6-0) 140 1
2. Jacksonville Northside (6-0) 123 2
3. Newton-Conover (5-0) 106 3
4. Southwest Onslow (6-0) 94 4
5. Lenoir Hibriten (6-0) 78 6
6. Eastern Guilford (6-0) 56 8
7. Tarboro (5-1) 39 10
7. South Columbus (5-1) 39 9
9. East Lincoln (6-1) 23
10. Salisbury (6-0) 20
Others receiving votes: Canton Pisgah 17, Lincolnton 15, Monroe 7, Shelby 7, Bunn 4, East Duplin 1, Elizabeth City Northeastern 1.

1. Warsaw Kenan (9) (6-0) 130 1
2. Thomasville (3) (6-0) 127 2
3. Mt. Airy (2) (6-0) 117 3
4. Murphy (7-0) 99 4
5. Albemarle (5-1) 78 5
6. Siler City Jordan-Matthews (6-1) 54 6
7. Dunn Midway (6-1) 47 8
8. Plymouth (5-1) 26 9
T9. East Bladen (6-1) 22 10
T9. Topsail (6-0) 22
Others receiving votes: Cherokee 12, Robbinsville 10, Jones County 10, Louisburg 8, Hendersonville 5, Elkin 3.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Saturday morning reflections

It's Saturday morning and I'm still marveling over the game at Beddingfield on Friday night. The Bruins' 34-28 defeat of previously unbeaten Fike was chock full of great plays by both teams and they started right from the beginning.

On the second play from scrimmage, senior Marcus Ruffin of Beddingfield took a handoff and raced around the right end, dodging one would-be tackler and not stopping until he hit the end zone 77 yards later. Ruffin, who would throw a 79-yard touchdown pass later in the first quarter, had 81 of Beddingfield's 80 rushing yards in the first 12 minutes. That's right, the Bruins' only other ballcarrier netted a minus-1 in yardage in the first quarter.

Ruffin had 104 yards by halftime and so I was surprised to see him shelved for the Bruins' first possession of the second half. By then, Fike had overcome a 14-3 deficit with 22 straight points, including a six-play, 50-yard scoring drive to open the third quarter.

But even trailing 25-14 there was no reason for Beddingfield to panic as there was lots of time left and the Bruins are one team that needs but a few seconds to score from anywhere on the field. When they got the ball back in the third, they went to the air and junior quarterback Lance Price and his receivers seemed out of synch.

Beddingfield got one first down on Ruffin's 8-yard ramble on third-and-3 and another on a Fike roughing-the-passer penalty. But the drive sputtered at midfield as Price went 1 for 5. When Beddingfield got the ball back, they used Ruffin to set up two 31-yard pass plays, including tight end Tobias Brown's over-the-shoulder TD catch.

Here's a couple of other things from Friday night:

• After delivering a smack on Fike's Rashad Parker, Bruins senior defensive back Dahnique Eddie broken the ulna and radius bones in his forearm. When he finally got to his feet with a splint on his arm, Eddie's expression wasn't one of pain but rather annoyance that he had to come out of the game. There was no doubt "Q-Ball's" injury rallied his teammates and I can see why,
Eddie is one tough cookie.
• Speaking of Parker, his 64-yard ramble for a TD to end the first half was an instant WILSY. He was met at the line of scrimmage by two Bruins defenders, bounced off and darted left. Seemingly hemmed in along the sideline, Parker was able to find a seam behind the rest of the Fike players who had caught up to him and were throwing blocks 20 and 30 yards downfield. Parked picked his way back to the center of the field and sprinted to the end zone. Sixty-four yards on the scoresheet but I bet he ran more than 100 on the play.

Where do these teams go from here? Well, Fike goes from the proverbial frying pan to the fire as the Demons open 3-A NEW 6 Conference play Friday at SouthWest Edgecombe. But let's just say it now: The Demons are for real. Fike made a couple of mistakes Friday night and they were costly but for the most part, the Demons have avoided hurting themselves. That credit must go to head coach Richie Pridgen and his staff.

The NEW 6 has plenty of hurt to go around so a team that can limit its mistakes is going to do well. I believe Fike can beat any team in the NEW 6, even No. 2 state-ranked Rocky Mount, which barely edged the Demons last season.

For the Bruins, as I laid out above, if Beddingfield uses the run to set up the pass, it will be tough to beat in the 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference.

The loss of Eddie hurts but Beddingfield, at this point, must be considered the class of the ECC. However, a vastly improved Kinston squad lurks and we can never forget the Hunt Warriors, who can still win the conference after a 1-5 start.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Great but not greatest

In case you haven't seen this catch by Edwin Baptiste of Morgan State against Winston-Salem State last Saturday, check it out.

I don't know about greatest ever. After all have we already forgotten David Tyree's incredible catch in the Super Bowl last January?.

Or Lynn Swann's amazing hauls in Super Bowl X (which are somewhere in here.

There's a mess of mind-boggling catches in this clip.

You see, it's just hard to call something "the best ever."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

This week's AP high school football poll

RALEIGH — The Associated Press state high school football poll for North Carolina for the week of Sept. 30, first-place votes in parentheses, records and total points as voted upon by a statewide panel of prep sports writers.

1. Charlotte Independence (11);(3-0);119;1
2. Matthews Butler (1);(4-0);105;2
3. Raleigh Millbrook;(6-0);96;3
4. Raleigh Leesville Road;(6-0);74;5
5. Davie County;(4-1);47;6
6. Fayetteville Britt;(4-1);42;4
7. Wilmington Hoggard;(3-1);38;7
8. East Mecklenburg;(4-0);34;8
9. Winston-Salem Mt. Tabor;(5-1);27;9
T10. Asheville Reynolds;(4-1);25
T10. Fayetteville Seventy-First;(5-0);25
Others receiving votes: Richmond County 15, Mallard Creek 4, West Forsyth 2, Charlotte Myers Park 2, East Forsyth 2, East Burke 1, Greensboro Page 1, Greenville Rose 1.<

1. Greensboro Dudley (10);(5-0);118;1
2. Rocky Mount (2);(4-1);105;2
3. Eastern Alamance;(5-0);81;3
4. Jamestown Ragsdale;(5-0);73;4
5. Belmont South Point;(5-1);69;5
6. West Craven;(5-0);52;6
7. Waynesville Tuscola;(5-0);48;9
8. Winston-Salem Carver;(5-1);42;7
9. Harnett Central;(4-1);22
10. Oxford Webb;(4-1);18;10
Others receiving votes: Asheville Roberson 9, West Rowan 8, Wilson Fike 3, Kinston 3, Kannapolis Brown 3, Southeast Guilford 2, Mooresville 1, Charlotte Catholic 1, Asheville 1, Hertford County 1.

1. Reidsville (12);(5-0);120;1
2. Jacksonville Northside;(5-0);101;2
3. Newton-Conover;(5-0);87;3
4. Southwest Onslow;(5-0);83;5
5. Lincolnton;(5-1);64;7
6. Lenoir Hibriten;(5-0);58;6
7. Bunn;(4-1);37;8
8. Eastern Guilford;(5-0);32;9
9. South Columbus;(4-1);22;10
10. Tarboro;(5-1);19;4
Others receiving votes: Canton Pisgah 11, Salisbury 10, East Lincoln 8, Shelby 7, East Duplin 1.

1. Warsaw Kenan (7);(6-0);112;1
2. Thomasville (3);(5-0);105;3
3. Mt. Airy (2);(5-0);104;2
4. Murphy;(6-0);83;4
5. Albemarle;(4-1);62;5
6. Siler City Jordan-Matthews;(5-1);37;6
7. Cherokee;(6-0);30;9
8. Dunn Midway;(5-0);27;10
9. Plymouth;(4-1);26;7
10. East Bladen;(5-1);18;8
Others receiving votes: Topsail 14, Jones County 10, Robbinsville 6, Louisburg 5, West Montgomery 5, Seven Springs Spring Creek 5, Elkin 4, Hendersonville 4, East Surry 3.

Monday, September 29, 2008

CBA stays No. 2 in 3-A poll

Here's a quick glance at teams in The Wilson Daily Times readership area that are ranked in their respective state polls.

Charles B. Aycock's unbeaten boys soccer team remains second in the N.C. Soccer Coaches Association 3-A poll. The Golden Falcons (12-0-0) trail Asheville T.C. Roberson. After losses to CBA and Fike last week, Hunt dropped out of the top 15.

In the public school poll, defending N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A state champion Greenfield rose one spot to 10th. The Knight have won seven straight.

In girls tennis, Fike holds onto the No. 3 spot in the N.C. High School Tennis Coaches Association 3-A rankings. Rocky Mount is fifth. In the 2-A poll, Greene Central, the defending N.C. High School Athletic Association 2-A champion, is third.

High school football rankings come out Tuesday so stay tuned.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday morning reflections

It's Saturday morning and the news comes from Associated Press that screen legend Paul Newman has lost his battle with cancer at age 83.

That 's definitely a bummer. I could watch "Cool Hand Luke" or "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" at any time.

Moving on to the topic of the morning, the Hunt Warriors are probably in mourning after Friday night's debacle, a 38-9 loss to Fike. Not even a reunion of Hunt's first varsity football team, the 1978 Warriors who went unbeaten in the regular season, could motivate the 2008 Warriors.

Turnovers, turnovers and more turnovers are killing Hunt. This is not the team that blew out Bertie to open the season (although Bertie, as it now seems, probably isn't that good). But three weeks ago at Fike, Hunt narrowly lost 14-13 in overtime.

The Warriors have had some injuries but that still doesn't add up to one of, if not the worst start (1-5) in head coach Randy Raper's 18-year career. Hunt gets the week off before opening 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference play against a tough Kinston outfit. The Warriors can turn it around but they'd better do it quick.

The Golden Demons, on the other hand, are playing nearly perfect football each week which is what they have to do, head coach Richie Pridgen reminds.

Fike senior quarterback Michael Brown turns in a quiet near flawless performance each Friday and the Demons' ground game has proven to be explosive.

Fike will certainly get its sternest test of the season Friday when it visits Beddingfield, also 5-0. This should be the biggest clash between Wilson teams since the Warriors and Bruins closed the 2005 regular season.

Back to those '78 Warriors — I didn't recognize some of the guys from the photos taken at Bill's by the Daily Times' Michael Lindsay and at the game by our freelance photog Jimmy Pridgen. Too many years had gone by. But others were instantly recognizable.

Kudos to"brothers" John and Dwight Taylor for putting together this reunion of a team that certainly should go down in Wilson football annals as one of the best.

This fall is also the 25th anniversary of the 1983 Warriors — many were my senior classmates — who were Hunt's first playoff team, going all the way to the Eastern finals. A talented Fayetteville Byrd team (with three future NFL players) ended their season on a cold Friday after Thanksgiving in Warrior Stadium but what a year.

Maybe they'll have a reunion sometime this season, too.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mudcats, Reds join forces

It's official, the Carolina Mudcats are the new Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds of the National League.

The Southern League member announced Friday afternoon at a press conference. The Mudcats' six-year association with the Florida Marlins ended last week and were being courted by the Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.

Carolina, which lost the Southern League championship series in five games to the Mississippi Braves, will put a stamp on their new affiliation with an exhibition game against the Reds on April 3, 2009, in Five County Stadium.

Personally, I'm a little disappointed it wasn't the Giants. As an 11-year resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, I developed an affinity for the G-men and their American League neighbors, the Oakland Athletics. It would have been neat seeing the next-generation Giants come through eastern North Carolina on their way to San Francisco.

The Reds are a good choice though. They are the oldest major league team, dating back to 1882. I'm not sure about their current state. The most recent interest I had in them was when Goldsboro native Jerry Narron was the Cincinnati manager but he was fired last year.

Check out Saturday's print and online editions of The Wilson Daily Times for reporter Ryan Bisesi's coverage of Friday's press conference.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hoo boy! Here we go, State and ECU fans

Apparently there is a communication breakdown between the athletic departments at N.C. State University and East Carolina University.

Wolfpack athletic director Lee Fowler said on 99.9 FM The Fan on Wednesday the in-state rivals were only going to meet three times over the next eight seasons. Fowler also opined the reasons behind it were that ECU athletic director Terry Holland and head football coach Skip Holtz wanted to be sure ECU could "win and do some things properly."

Holland responded via an ECU press release on Wednesday afternoon.

While I have no first hand knowledge of the circumstance of the comments made on a radio talk show, these are the absolute facts as I know them regarding future football games with NC State:

1. Skip Holtz and Terry Holland want to play the other public Football Bowl Subdivision institutions in our state (NC State and UNC) as often as possible. These are great rivalry games that are good for the economy of this state and for eastern North Carolina in particular.

2. If NC State and UNC called today and told us that they would each play us home and home every year, we would do whatever necessary to make that work, as we did in 2006 when we moved the Virginia Tech series back a year in order to play at NC State in 2006 and have NC State and UNC in Greenville in 2007. We believe those games are that important to the
future of this area economically and otherwise. We are therefore TOTALLY committed to playing games against those institutions whenever the opportunity arises for us to play them.

3. Last spring, NC State and ECU began discussions about moving games around to allow each to achieve their desired home and away "balance." ECU specifically asked about moving the 2009 game scheduled for Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium to the 2010 season. We wanted the local rivalry game with NC State in 2010 when we expect to have completed our East End Zone project that could add between 5,000 and 7,000 seats to our stadium. Our only contracted non-conference home game for the 2010 season is Navy, and having NC State in that particular year would obviously make our season ticket package more attractive for the 2010 season.

4. There have been a number of suggested resolutions to achieve each institution's desired balance, including playing once every three years in the short term while leading to a longer term agreement to settle the issue of future games when the current coaches and athletics directors are not likely to be in their present positions .

5. However, the bottom line is that ECU and NC State have a signed contract to play in Greenville in 2009, 2012 and 2016 and in Raleigh in 2008, 2010, and 2013. Until there is a different schedule mutually agreeable to both teams, ECU is prepared to continue honoring that contract and expects NC State to do the same.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ouch! UNC's Yates out for 6 weeks

Bad news for North Carolina football fans. The Associated Press reported a short time ago that Tar Heels quarterback T.J. Yates has a broken ankle and will be out of action for six weeks.

Yates was hurt in the third quarter of UNC's 20-17 loss to Virginia Tech in Kenan Stadium on Saturday. Yates played for another play then came off the field. He had thrown for 181 yards and a touchdown before being replaced by redshirt freshman Mike Paulus, who was 3 for 8 for 23 yards with a pair of costly interceptions.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tragedy in Greenville — UPDATE

Charles Alston of nc.ihigh.com is reporting that Greenville J.H. Rose High football player Jaquan Waller died after the Rampants' game against Wilmington Hoggard on Friday night in Greenville.

Alston updated some of the earlier information which had the young man passing shortly after midnight. In fact, Waller was revived at Pitt Memorial Hospital then placed on life support. Due to his family's wishes, he was removed from that early Saturday afternoon and died a short time later.

What terrible tragedy this is. You never know when something like this is going to happen. Football is a violent sport but nobody who puts on the pads expects to die playing it.

Certainly our thoughts are with Jaquan's family, friends and teammates.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Report: Mudcats cut loose by Marlins

The Florida Times-Union reported early Thursday on its Web site www.jacksonville.com the Florida Marlins will cut ties with its Double-A franchise, the Carolina Mudcats, and have signed a two-year deal with the Jacksonville Suns.

The Suns, a Southern League affiliate with the Mudcats, had been the Los Angeles Dodgers' Double-A franchise for the past eight seasons. The Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Dodgers were also reportedly interested in the Suns.

That means, for the time being, the Mudcats have no major league affiliation. The team, which began play in 1991, has worked with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Colorado Rockies prior to becoming a Marlins farm team in 2002.

Check Friday's edition of The Wilson Daily Times for Mudcats columnist Will Privette's take on Marlins' decision to drop the Mudcats.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pasteurized: The Fantastic 50 not-so-fantastic for area teams

Mathematician and high school football aficionado Drew Pasteur has released his initial 2008 Fantastic 50 N.C. high school football rankings.

The news is not that great for area teams. Fike is ranked the highest, coming in at 74th in the state out of 366 teams in all four N.C. High School Athletic Association classification as well as teams in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association. The Golden Demons (2-0) are listed No. 24 among 98 NCHSAA 3-A teams, one spot ahead of archrival Hunt (1-2). The overall No. 87 Warriors lost a 14-13 overtime decision to Fike last Thursday. Beddingfield (2-1) is ranked No. 102 overall and No. 35 in the 3-A ranks.

Pasteur ranks all the teams overall and by classification as well as each's strength of schedule using a mathematical formula he developed. In his 3-A poll, he lists Greensboro Dudley No. 1 and Rocky Mount second. Other area teams are SouthWest Edgecombe (28th, 87th), Southern Nash (64th, 198th) and Charles B. Aycock (85th, 271st).

Greene Central is 56th of 91 NCHSAA 2-A teams and 263rd overall while North Johnston comes in No. 34 of 77 NCHSAA 1-A schools and 259th overall.