Saturday, November 28, 2009

Third round bedevils Cougars again

SouthWest Edgecombe is going to win a state football championship one year but it won't be this year. The Cougars found the third round to be the stumbling block for the third time in four years as they lost to Reidsville 22-20 on Friday night.

There's not much shame in this outcome since the Rams are the two-time defending N.C. High School Athletic Association 2-AA state champions, have now won 46 straight games and are the overwhelming favorite to win their 18th state title now that they've gotten past their biggest obstacle — the Cougars.

Friday's game was everything you'd expect from a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup. The Rams came in with a reputation for offensive explosiveness, leading the state with 669 points scored. The Cougars had gotten to the third round with a withering ball-control offense. Both teams did what they did, when they weren't being stopped by defenses equal to the task.

But the part that will haunt Cougars fans and head coach Raymond Cobb is the way it ended. After SouthWest answered the Rams' third touchdown with one of their own, they failed to tack on the two-point conversion. After the onside kick attempt was recovered by the Rams, the Cougars defense rose to the challenge and forced a punt.

SouthWest got the ball with just under two minutes to play and no timeouts. The Cougars quickly moved the ball inside the Rams' 30-yard line and, on first down, quarterback Chris Ellerbe spiked it. After a second-down pass went awry, Ellerbe took a shot at Javelle Jenkins in the end zone but the pass was long.

Fourth-and-10 at the 27 with 12 seconds left. The Cougars, admittedly not a passing team but effective through the air this drive, had one more option. Cobb sent Ellerbe on to try a 37-yard field goal which was dicey since Ellerbe hadn't really kicked any field goals all year and the field was a mushy mess.

But it all became moot when the snap was low and holder Pierce Sturgill was tackled by Reidsville's Steve Williams before he could pitch to Ellerbe.

I'm sure there are plenty of people who will second-guess that decision to go for a field goal in that situation but a coach has to do what he thinks is right in a situation. Cobb's record as one of the best coaches around speaks for itself so whatever criticism comes his way has to be taken in stride.

The Cougars knew they'd have to beat Reidsville to win the state championship, whether it was the third round, the first round or the last round. It didn't happen but it shouldn't sully what has been yet another great season in Pinetops.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pasteur likes the Cougars this week but I'm not so sure

Even though his accuracy rate dipped a bit last week, Drew Pasteur of The Fantastic 50 predicts good things for at least one area team in the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association football playoffs.

Pasteur projects SouthWest Edgecombe as a two-point winner over two-time defending state champion Reidsville in Friday's 2-AA East semifinals mega-clash in Pinetops but he thinks Southern Nash falls by seven at Hope Mills Gray's Creek in the 3-AA East semis.

Pasteur thinks the 2-AA East championship will be an all-Eastern Plains Conference affair with Kinston beating Pittsboro Northwood by five. He also has Tarboro advancing to the 2-A East final for the second straight year with a predicted 18-point win over Whiteville but Edgecombe County's third team, North Edgecombe, is a 10-point underdog at Jones Senior.

Pasteur says he went 51-15 (77.3 percent) picking winners last week, a drop from an all-time high of 89.4 percent (118-14) in the first round of the playoffs the previous week.

In the four high school games on this week's Football Forecast, I've only got one difference with Pasteur. I like Kinston upsetting Pittsboro Northwood in the 2-AA bracket, although it would be an upset only from the perspective of seeding, and I think Fayetteville Douglas Byrd will end South Johnston's season.

I also think Southern Nash won't get past Gray's Creek, although like last week, I thought long and hard about taking the Firebirds who are good enough to win again. I just have a hard time taking a visiting team with a penchant for fumbling.

Where Pasteur's computer and I differ are in the game many feel is the de facto 2-AA state title game. I've thought all season that SouthWest Edgecombe has had a state championship-caliber team but we know Reidsville is just that, having won the last two 2-AA crowns as well as 45 straight games. The Cougars can win this one but they'll need to play errorless football, obviously, and just as importantly get off to a good start. However, Reidsville is explosive offensively and even if SWE is winning in the final minute, if the Rams have the ball, they can pull it out. So I have to go with Reidsville by less than a touchdown.

My picks are more in line with The Massey Ratings, which project Reidsville as a 34-24 winner, Southern Nash a 26-17 loser, Byrd a 27-19 winner and Kinston over Northwood by a 23-16 final.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Prince gets A for Extra Effort

Congratulations to Mary-Katherine Price, the recipient of this week's Extra Effort Award from WRAL-TV.

As one of the best high school girls tennis players in the state and the No. 1 student in her senior class at Fike, Mary-Katherine is truly the embodiment of the term "student-athlete."

Check out the video at WRAL.com, it's even got Lee Matthews in it!

West Rowan's Parks sets new state rushing record

Who knew that the North Carolina high school career rushing record is 10,253 yards?

Well, there's no need to remember that figure for long because it's sure to keep climbing as newly minted record-holder K.P. Parks of West Rowan will have at least one more chance to further it Friday night. Parks, who has committed to the University of Virginia, eclipsed the mark set by former Jamestown Ragsdale and current N.C. State player Toney Baker. Parks did it with 244 yards and three touchdowns in West Rowan's 38-0 bombardment of R-S Central in the second round of the state 3-A playoffs.

It was the 27th straight win for the defending champion Falcons, who have been ranked No. 1 all season.

Gardner-Webb's McNair should start Monday vs. Tar Heels

Greenfield School product Brian McNair is expected to be in the starting lineup Monday night for the Gardner-Webb men's basketball team when the Bulldogs visit the defending national champion North Carolina Tar Heels.

McNair, a three-time Wilson Times All-Area selection, should get the start, Greenfield head coach Rob Salter said Sunday night. McNair, who wears No. 24, has started one of the Bulldogs (3-0) three games and is averaging 6.0 point, 5.0 assists and 1.3 rebounds in 20.3 minutes of action per game.

The game will be televised by Fox Sports South and will tip off at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

SouthWest vs. Reidsville is a reality

For the second time this season the eyes of the state 2-A football world will be on Pinetops as SouthWest Edgecombe secured the homefield for Friday's showdown with Reidsville with Saturday night's 28-0 defeat of Jacksonville Northside.

This will be the third time in four years the Cougars have reached the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs, having made it in the 3-A playoffs in 2006 and last year. Now in the 2-AA bracket, SouthWest faces the opponent it knew it would have to go through to win a state title ever since the season began.

Reidsville comes in with two straight state 2-AA titles and 45 straight wins, the third-longest streak in state history. The Rams score in bunches and are loaded with athletes and, as importantly, the confidence that comes with the success associated with winning four state titles since 1972.

The Cougars, on the other hand, haven't been as dominant as during midseason but played extremely well in beating a tough Northside team.

SouthWest's strength as been its decimating ground attack, often aimed at the heart of the opposing defense. The Cougars have averaged 8 yards per carry in their wishbone offense and junior quarterback Chris Ellerbe is a capable passer when they've needed him to be.

The Cougars defense has bent often but rarely broken and may be a bit underrated.

The biggest advantage SouthWest has going into Friday's game, besides the homefield, is its tough schedule. The Cougars have beaten Tarboro and Kinston, both Eastern Plains Conference rivals still alive in the third round. They also knocked off 3-A foes Hunt and Rocky Mount with ease during the season. Reidsville's schedule was far from a cakewalk and the Rams only had one game with less than 40 points scored. But only four of their regular-season foes had winning records whereas eight of the Cougars' opponents had winning marks.

In any event, Friday's game is sure to be a big-time football game and the crowd might be bigger than the estimated 5,000 spectators who were on hand to see the Cougars beat Tarboro in October.

If you're going, get there early, very early.

Congratulations to new boys soccer state champions

The N.C. High School Athletic Association has crowned four new boys soccer champions with 1-A Hendersonville, 2-A Shelby and 3-A Waxhaw Marvin Ridge winning titles Saturday to join Greensboro Page, which captured the 4-A title Friday.

Marvin Ridge downed 3-A East champion Chapel Hill 2-1 in sudden-death overtime Saturday. The Tigers reached the final by giving No. 1 seed Jacksonville its first loss in 29 matches with a 2-1 overtime win Friday in a match that began Wednesday. The Tigers and Cardinals battled to a 1-1 tie in a downpour Wednesday night but the game officials decided the field was unplayable for overtime. So the teams reconvened Friday night at nearby Dixon High to play the decisive OT period.

Firebirds find footing while Warriors wonder what happened

As I stepped carefully onto the field in Warrior Stadium Friday night following Hunt's state 3-AA playoff game against Southern Nash my mind wandered ever so briefly back to early August.

I milled outside the clubhouse waiting for practice to begin so I could shoot some photographs and I couldn't help but notice the stadium field was a pristine green, shimmering in the summer heat as it awaited its 32nd season. Fast forward to around 10 o'clock Friday night and the once green and robust turf was in shambles, much like Hunt's season.

The Warriors never could seem to find the traction on their own field that the Firebirds did as they slogged out a 20-10 victory to end Hunt's season in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs. Southern Nash churned out 285 tough yards in the mud while the Warriors never got their offense in gear.

Maybe it was the fact Hunt kept going to the passing game which produced next to nothing. Sophomore quarterback Jacob Page, usually sure-handed and strong-armed, seemed bewildered by the marshmallow-like surface, caused by days of rain as he struggled to plant his feet for his deliveries. Meanwhile Hunt receivers seemed to be running through molasses as they just couldn't get to Page's throws. Only one of the 12 Hunt passing attempts was caught by a Warrior, Travoris Lofton, and for just 3 yards. The last pass Page threw was snagged by a Firebird, Luke Mercer, and it all but finished off the Warriors.

A fumble also killed a promising fourth-quarter drive for the Warriors right after Southern Nash had taken a 14-10 lead. But rather than try to dissect what Hunt did wrong, let's look at what the Firebirds did right. Even though they fell short of their quota of 2.5 fumbles, both turnovers they had hurt the Firebirds. The first ended the opening drive in Hunt territory and the Warriors turned it into a quick six points, courtesy of Jazzy Kirby's 62-yard run after taking an option pitch from fill-in quarterbackTyrell Vinson.

The other Southern Nash turnover came on a squib kickoff by Harry Lamm following Kirby's TD that Kyle Pittman recovered near midfield. Hunt got a field goal from Lamm out of that.

But that was it. Even Southern Nash's 66 yards on 10 penalties, including two drives that were absolutely killed by yellow flags, didn't keep the Firebirds from winning. I was impressed by them early in the season after back-to-back wins against Beddingfield and Bunn and I was not surprised that they beat Hunt Friday night.

They believe in themselves and they believe in head coach Brian Foster and his staff and good things have happened for them.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Madness in my method

In a much less scientific manner than Drew Pasteur and his computer (see below), I came up with my picks for this week's Football Forecast.

Keep in mind that some of my picks are made with regard to how I think the other forecasters on the panel are going to pick. Because I'm in next-to-last place with only two more weeks assured (the Forecast ends when the last area high school team exits the playoffs), I had to mix it up a bit.

So I went against the board, or most of them, in taking C.B. Aycock at Hope Mills Gray's Creek. But I also did it because I have a hunch the Golden Falcons are going to play a little longer.

I did go with the flow on picking Hunt over Southern Nash but, as I did during the regular season, I nearly convinced myself to take the Firebirds. After all, Southern Nash has had just as good a season as Hunt, except for the Warriors' 28-20 win at home last month. But I just can't get over the Firebirds' 2.5 turnovers per game, especially when the field in Warrior Stadium is probably going to be wet Friday night.

I did take Rocky Mount over South Johnston for two reasons: No. 1, the Trojans didn't impress me all that much when I saw Fike nearly beat them in Wilson six weeks ago and, No. 2, the Gryphons have had a bad season — by their recent standards — but as Fike head coach Kim Brown said, 'They ain't a bad team."

I took Kinston over East Duplin because I'm just a sucker for those Eastern Plains Conference teams. The Vikings are a tough bunch and maybe East Duplin didn't face that kind of competition during the season and is the No. 1 seed only because the folks at the NCHSAA drew it out of a hat.

I like SouthWest Edgecombe to take care of business this week against a tough Jacksonville Northside team but the Cougars better click it up a few notches if they survive and get Reidsville in Pinetops the day after Thanksgiving. Those Rams are tough, tough, tough.

Don't ask me why I picked the way I did on the college games. I've been terrible all season but I'm rolling the dice again on Arizona over Oregon and Cal over Stanford. I'll admit that in my 11 years living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I took sides and never once rooted for the Cardinal. Go Bears!

Pasteur releases second-round predictions

Drew Pasteur released his updated Fantastic 50 along with second-round picks for the N.C. High School Athletic Association football playoffs.

To get straight to the point, he has 3-AA East No. 3 seed Hunt beating No. 11 Southern Nash by seven points to set up a third-round meeting with No. 2 Hope Mills Gray's Creek, which Pasteur projects as a five-point victor over C.B. Aycock.

Pasteur also has No. 1 South Johnston edging No. 9 Rocky Mount by a point and No. 12 Fayetteville Byrd toppling No. 5 West Brunswick by four.

In the 2-AA East, No. 2 SouthWest Edgecombe is a 20-point favorite over No. 7 Jacksonville Northside while No. 3 Reidsville is laying 28 points on Bunn. He also has No. 1 East Duplin slipping past Kinston by a point.

Pasteur touts his first-round performance as his best week ever, coming in at 118-14 (89.4 percent) and on the season, he's at 81.4 percent. Not too shabby.

But like with any tournament predictions, Pasteur had some early bracket busters. The most notable was his 3-AA runner-up Fayetteville Westover going down to Byrd in the first round. Another 3-AA quarterfinalist, Northeast Guilford, also went by the wayside to Shelby Crest in the first round.

The 3-AA had four wrong picks in the first round, by far the worst showing for him in any bracket. However, in each of the other seven classifications all of Pasteur's final eight are alive.

He does have SWE and Tarboro winning the 2-AA and 2-A state crowns, respectively, and Hunt exiting to Gray's Creek in the third round.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Richardson, Jeffers earn McDonald's All-America team nominations

Greenfield School seniors Brian Richardson and Jeremy Jeffers were named as nominees to the prestigious McDonald's All-America high school boys basketball team, Knights head coach Rob Salter reported Tuesday morning.

Richardson, who has signed with the University of South Carolina, and Drake University signee Jeffers become the third and fourth players in Greenfield hoops history to achievement a McD's nomination. Last year, Brian McNair, now a freshman at Gardner-Webb University, was selected while Anthony Atkinson was the first. Atkinson, you may recall, led Barton College to the NCAA Division II championship in 2007 and is now a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Neither McNair nor Atkinson made the final cut of the McD's roster but just to be nominated is a big deal so congratulations are in order for Richardson and Jeffers!

Monday, November 16, 2009

High school playoffs starting to take shape

Looking ahead to Friday's second-round games in the N.C. High School Athletic Association football playoffs, Southern Nash visits Hunt for the second time in a month.

The Warriors took advantage of the Firebirds' mistakes to pull out a 28-20 victory on homecoming. But that was with junior Caleb Bass and his 158 rushing yards. I expect Friday's rematch to be real war and it might come down to the final minutes.

The winner of this game takes on the survivor of the Charles B. Aycock-Hope Mills Gray's Creek game. Gray's Creek holds the seeding advantage while CBA would travel to Hunt and host Southern Nash.

In the top half of the bracket, Rocky Mount visits 3-AA East top-seed South Johnston and Fayetteville Byrd travels to West Brunswick.

SouthWest Edgecombe, which was shaky in its 2-AA opener against West Stanley on Saturday night, hosts a solid Jacksonville Northside team. The Cougars might have gotten caught looking ahead in Saturday's 16-6 win against a decided underdog in West Stanly and it'll be tough for SWE to not do the same this week with a potential date with two-time defending state champion Reidsville looming. Meanwhile, 2-AA East No. 1 seed East Duplin hosts Kinston Friday with the winner getting the Pittsboro Northwood-South Granville victor in the East semifinals.

Lane guides Abbey to conference titles in return to coaching

Congratulations are in order for Wilson native Robert Lane who guided the Belmont Abbey College women's soccer team to the Conference Carolinas regular-season and tournament championships in his first season as head coach.

For those who don't know Lane, he was an all-state player at Hunt High in the late 1990s, earning a selection to the East-West All-Star Game. He played two years at Barton College then moved onto the NCAA Division I ranks at East Carolina University.

Lane returned to Barton as an assistant under then head coach Gary Hall in 2005 before taking a job at Montreat College in January, 2006. But before he had coached a game there, Lane moved onto Coker College Hartsville, S.C., where he coached the men's team for three seasons. His last season at Coker in 2008, produced the best record by the Cobras in a decade at 7-12-2.

Lane was married to the former Neeley Rentz of Hartsville in March, 2008, and the newlyweds planned to relocate to Charlotte where he would work in private business. But the chance to coach again came last August when Lane took the job at the Abbey, where he could work without having to leave the the Charlotte area.

The Crusaders finished the season 14-6 after a 5-0 loss to Armstrong Atlantic (Ga.) in the first round of the NCAA Div. II playoffs.

Hunt falls at Jacksonville 5-0

I have some not-so-good news from Jacksonville where the Hunt High boys soccer team was defeated 5-0 in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A East semifinals.

The Warriors, ranked No. 5 in the state, finished 22-2-1 while the Cardinals, top-ranked and unbeaten through 28 matches, steams into the East final against the winner of the Chapel Hill-Cardinal Gibbons semifinal. Still no score from that one.

UPDATE at 9 p.m.: Looks like Jacksonville will get Chapel Hill in the East final as the Tiger eliminated Cardinal Gibbons 4-3.

In Erwin, Southern Nash trails Triton 7-6 at the start of the third quarter in their NCHSAA 3-AA football playoff opener. Will have updates later.

UPDATE at 9 p.m.: Southern Nash leads Triton 20-7 with about 3:30 to play in the game.

Still a good deal

The announcement today that most online content provided by The Wilson Times at its Web site, wilsontimes.com, would be available through subscription only is sure to be met with discontent.

Naturally, people used to getting something for free aren't happy when all of a sudden they have to pay for it. But therein lies the problem. Newspapers began giving away content online several years ago under the notion that, in time, increased Web readership would drive up online advertising revenue and subsidize digital content the same way it does in print.

But folks, it ain't working. Internet advertising brings in a fraction that print does and the online readership, which has grown, undermines print advertising because people are reading the news on the Web site and not in print. In short, newspapers are basically giving away their core product and I don't know of many businesses that can do that and sustain themselves.

The next option is no newspaper, in print or online. No local news, no obituaries, no wedding announcements, no high school football reports, no district court results, no comics, no classified ads, no nothing. I believe that newspapers are not going to fade away because I think people still want the news in their community and you won't find news about Wilson anywhere but The Wilson Times. And I might be biased, but $10 a month for a paper in your driveway and full Web access is a pretty good deal.

Hopefully, this decision, like many painful ones in recent months, will help ensure the survival of this newspaper so Wilsonians and those in the surrounding communities won't lose their source for local news.

Because this space, along with other blogs at wilsontimes.com and other online features will continue to be free, I want to step up my game, so to speak, and provide more content. Look for daily entries that might not always be just about local sports. Also look for score updates, which I will provide as best I can.

Hopefully, readers of this blog will become more involved with comments and discussions on the local sports scene because here, you still don't have to pay to play!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hunt, SWE, CBA postpone playoff openers

Hunt has postponed its state 3-AA football playoff opener against Burlington Williams until 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Warriors assistant coach and athletic director Stevie Hinnant said Thursday.

Hinnant said if there is more rain Thursday night or Friday, the game could be pushed back until Monday. Hunt now has to deal with the absence of its place-kicker Harry Lamm and punter Will Jacobs, both of whom will be in Jacksonville for Hunt's boys soccer fourth-round playoff match on Saturday night.

SouthWest Edgecombe also moved its 2-AA playoff opener against West Stanly from Friday to Saturday at 7 p.m.

UPDATED at 9:25 p.m.: Charles B. Aycock's 3-AA opener at Hillsborough Orange will now be played at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Beddingfield's 2-AA game at Reidsville along with Southern Nash at Erwin Triton in a 3-AA matchup are still on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Check Wilsontimes.com for more information later Thursday or in Friday's print edition of The Wilson Times.

Pasteur says double titles for Edgecombe County

Drew Pasteur of Fantastic 50 fame has put up his weekly rankings along with some extra goodies for the first week of the N.C. High School Athletic Association football playoffs.

In his championship odds, Pasteur lists SouthWest Edgecombe (which is the No. 8 team in the Fantastic 50) as an 8 to 5 favorite to win the 2-AA state title.Two-time defending champion Reidsville comes in at 7 to 2 while the Rams' first-round opponent, Beddingfield, is an 8,000 to 1 longshot. SouthWest's first-round foe, West Stanley, comes in at 500,000 to 1.

Hunt, the No. 3 seed in the 3-AA East bracket, is a 17 to 1 shot to win the state crown, the fifth-best odds. The Warriors are listed as 5 to 1 to win the East. Southern Nash is 130 to 1 to win the state 3-AA title and 30 to 1 to win the East. Charles B. Aycock is 60 to 1 to win the state 3-AA championship and 13 to 1 to win the East.

Tarboro is an 8 to 5 favorite to win the 2-A state championship a year after falling in the 2-A final. If Pasteur is correct, Edgecombe County would be home to two state champions.

Pasteur's computer played the entire playoffs and here are the bracket predictions.

He has Hunt beating Burlington Williams by 21 in the first round as well as Aycock downing Hillsborough Orange by 13 and Southern Nash winning by one at Triton. Hunt then will beat Southern Nash by eight in the second round (interesting because the Warriors beat the Firebirds 28-20 three weeks ago) and Aycock losing by five to Gray's Creek. Hunt is forecast to lose by a point to Gray's Creek in the East semifinals.

In the 2-AA bracket, SWE will steamroll West Stanly by 39 in the first round and Reidsville will knock off Beddingfield by 28. He's got SWE beating Jacksonville Northside by 24 in the next round to set up a showdown with Reidsville, a 28-point victor over Bunn. Then the Cougars will end Reidsville's 44-game winning streak by five points in the third round before beating Eastern Plains Conference rival Kinston by 16 in the East final. SouthWest will down Newton-Conover by 11 for its first state championship.

In the other classifications, Pasteur picks Matthews Butler over Fayetteville Jack Britt by 18 in the 4-AA final; Jamestown Ragsdale by 10 over Harnett Central in the 4-A title game; Northern Guilford by eight over Fayetteville Westover in the 3-AA championship; West Rowan by a point over Hertford County to win the 3-A crown; Tarboro beating Winston-Salem Carver by 10 in the 2-A finale; Monroe by five against Southwest Onslow in the 1-AA championship and Mount Airy to repeat as 1-A king by 13 over Wallace-Rose Hill.

Keeping up with Pasteur's predictions (he's gotten 81 percent correct on the season) will make the playoffs all the more fun for me.

There's some long drives for some teams Friday night

Our friend in New Bern, Alan Wooten, who must know more about Farmville Central football than anyone alive or dead, brings us this tidbit about 2-A Eastern Plains Conference teams in the football playoffs.

Alan points out that of the six playoff games involving EPC teams, will involve approximately 1,500 miles of round-trip travel. The distances are Alan's but since he's such a great stat man I'm sure they are correct. The longest drive will belong to West Stanly which must travel 191 miles to Pinetops to play SouthWest Edgecombe for a 382-mile round trip..

The other distances, one-way, are Kinston at High Point Andrews (171 miles), Farmville Central at Whiteville (150 miles), Tarboro at Croatan (111 miles) and Beddingfield at Reidsville (127 miles).

The Farmville Central-Whiteville winner will get the winner of the Burlington Cummings-First Flight matchup. Cummings will travel 258 miles (512 round trip) to Kill Devil Hills to play the Nighthawks.

But those distances are piddly compared to those some of the teams in the 1-A bracket will have to travel Friday. Alleghany will drive 225 miles to play at Hobbton. North Duplin faces a 369-mile trip to Cherokee but the longest drive of all goes to Hayesville, which has to go 390 miles to get to its first-round opponent Princeton.

Talk about a looooooong ride home if you don't win.

DeRatt makes mark for 4-A champion Rampants

Greenville Rose completed an undefeated season by winning the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4-A volleyball championship last weekend. The Rampants (25-0) defeated Charlotte Ardrey Kell in four games for their second straight state title.

Junior Jamie DeRatt, who transferred from Beddingfield at the start of the year, had 10 kills, 10 blocks and two digs in the final for Rose. She wasn't named Most Valuable Player as that went to teammate Emily Neideffer, who stated in Kent Wheeless' North Carolina iHigh.com article, she thought the award would have gone to DeRatt.

DeRatt certainly made an impact at Rose on the volleyball court. Now I wonder how the Rampants girls soccer team will be in the spring with DeRatt.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Worst display of sportsmanship ever

If you're someone who gets upset when sportsmanship isn't on display all the time, don't click on this link.

This is a YouTube clip of an ESPN Sportscenter piece of Thursday's Mountain West Conference women's soccer tournament semifinals match between New Mexico and BYU. New Mexico's Elizabeth Lambert gets caught on camera doing several things which should have earned her an immediate ejection, however by far the worst, is when she yanks BYU's Kassidy Shumway to the ground — violently — by her ponytail.

Lambert goes way over the edge of decency with her actions. Since then UNM has suspended her and she has offered a contrite apology, which she should but she also should not have ever pulled anything like that.

The most amazing part of it is that only one yellow card was issued in the match, one against Lambert for tripping a player in the box. What were the refs doing? Texting their buddies? Chatting with fans? They definitely weren't watching the game.

NCHSAA football pairings are out

The N.C. High School Athletic Association released its football playoff brackets this afternoon and here's where everyone will be Friday night.

In the 3-AA bracket, Big East Conference champion Hunt will host Burlington Williams while Southern Nash visits Erwin Triton and Charles B. Aycock is the guest of Hillsborough Orange.

In the 2-AA field, SouthWest Edgecombe, the East No. 2 seed, welcomes West Stanly and Beddingfield hits the road to play two-time defending state champion Reidsville.

Potential second-round matchups are Southern Nash at Hunt; Aycock at Gray's Creek, Jacksonville Northside at SWE and Beddingfield (if the Bruins shock the world) at Bunn.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pasteur puts up his projected playoff brackets

A lot of questions are going to be answered by Saturday afternoon regarding the N.C. High School Athletic Association state football playoffs. Actually, many of those will be answered by Friday night.

But, just for fun and maybe a bit more, here are Drew Pasteur's projected playoff brackets. Of course, those brackets are based on this week's picks generated by Pasteur's computer, which produces the Fantastic 50, which currently has SouthWest Edgecombe as No. 8 in the state in all four classifications.

Pasteur also has a list of "bubble" teams and those he feels are already in.. Greene Central and North Johnston, he says, need help even with wins Friday night.

But let's go back to his bracket projections since that's what we're all interested in. Pasteur has all the area 3-A teams in the 3-AA bracket, which does not contain state-ranked No. 2 Hertford or Havelock.

Hunt is the East No. 3 seed (behind No. 1 Gray's Creek and No. 2 Triton) and the Warriors are slated to play Burlington Williams in the first round. Hunt's potential second-round foe would be either No. 6 Fayetteville Westover or — Southern Nash, the 11th seed.

Charles B. Aycock is the No. 9 seed and would meet No. 8 Chapel Hill in the first round with Gray's Creek or No. 16 Western Harnett next. Rocky Mount is No. 7 and will get No. 10 South Central in the first round.

In the 2-AA East bracket, SouthWest Edgecombe is No. 3 (behind No. 1 East Duplin and No. 2 Reidsville) and will play Eastern Plains Conference rival and 12th seed Beddingfield in the first round. Winner would get the Bunn-Richlands winner. Kinston, at No. 9, would meet High Point Andrews in the first round with the winner playing East Duplin or No. 16 Saint Pauls.

Warriors last area team standing in soccer playoffs

It seemed like the high school fall sports playoffs just started and now they're quickly wrapping up for area teams — except football, of course, which begins its postseason next week.

All the independent and Christian school playoffs are done (and congratulations to the Greenfield boys soccer team and Wilson Christian volleyball team for doing what they seem to do each fall — win a state championship.) For this area, volleyball is over and boys soccer, after just one round, is down to Hunt, which should be around for a couple more rounds.

The Warriors, ranked fifth in 3-A for much of the season, haven't been challenged for much of the season. They might find one Saturday against Jacksonville White Oak or in a potential third-round matchup against South Johnston. But Hunt should be able to get to the fourth round where it will truly have its work cut out against No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Jacksonville, assuming the Cardinals are upset before then. This could be one of head coach Dave Miller's best team.

West Carteret head coach Ben Emmons, whose team plays in the Coastal Conference with Jacksonville, told me after Hunt's 5-0 win Wednesday night the Warriors backs will have to figure out Jacksonville's dazzling scheme in the front third of the field.

But no matter what, anyone who wants to win the state 3-A boys soccer championship has known for at least two months it will probably have to beat Jacksonville to get there. So if the Warriors have to do it in the fourth round rather than the East final or the state championship, that's when it going to have to get done. But that matchup, should it materialize, will be in Jacksonville as the Coastal has seeding priority over the Big East Conference.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Wilson's Crumpler to be on ESPN2 boxing Wednesday night

Skip Crumpler, the boxing director at Reid Street Community Center, will be in the corner of Jacksonville's Johnnie Edwards who will take on Jason Litzau in a super-featherweight 10-round bout televised by ESPN2 from Camp Lejeune.

Crumpler will serve as the cut man for Edwards, a Jacksonville resident known as "The Lumberjack", who is 15-4-1 with eight knockouts. Litzau, "The American Boy," hails from St. Paul, Minn., and is 25-2.

The bout is part of a three-fight card, including an eight-round welterweight clash between Francisco Figueroa of The Bronx, N.Y., and Raleigh's Rashad Holloway.

The matches start at 8 p.m.