07th Oct2012

Pirates get huge road win over Dark Horses

by Lee Wagner

CLINTON – There are always what can best be described as “Signature” games on each high-school football schedule, and the Topsail High School Black Hats had two of them on their schedule over the last three weeks.

The first didn’t turn out too well as a last-minute mental error by the Pirates’ players on a blocked punt snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in a 26-21 loss to East Duplin.

The second came last night (Friday) when Topsail traveled up Highway 40 to Clinton to face an always-formidable foe in the Dark Horses – a team with five state titles under their collective belts – and one who entered last night’s game with a 4-3 record  that included an impressive 14-7 win over perennial 1A state contender Wallace-Rose Hill.

But after 48 minutes of tough football, the Clinton players climbed into their cars with their fourth loss of the season, and the Pirates climbed back onto their activity bus for a trip back to Hampstead with what Pirates’ Coach Bryan Davis described as, “One of the best wins in my time at Topsail.”

Senior running back Devin Williams ran for 248 yards on 25 carries – a 9.9 per-carry average – and scored twice, and sophomore quarterback Austin Schoenleber threw for one score and sneaked in for another as Topsail defeated Clinton 28-14 on Friday in a critical East Central 2A Conference football game.

Topsail is now 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the conference and they are home next week for another important conference game against Croatan, which is also 4-3 overall and  2-2 in the conference. Both teams have lost to East Duplin and Northside, and both have beaten Clinton – the Cougars by a 14-6 score on Sept. 28 – and third place and the No. 3 seed out of the conference for the NCHSAA 2A state playoffs will be on the line in that game.

Clinton (4-4) is in the running with a 2-2 conference record but the Dark Horses go on the road this coming Friday for a game against East Duplin (7-1, 4-0), and back on the road the following Friday (Oct. 19) for a game at Northside (8-0, 40-0).

Croatan has an away game this week at Topsail, an away game next Friday (Oct. 19) at South Lenoir (1-7, 0-4), and a game at Richlands (3-5, 2-2) on Oct. 26 remaining on their schedule.

Topsail plays host to Croatan this Friday, is at home the following Friday against Richlands, and goes on the road the last week (Oct. 26) of the regular season at Swansboro (3-5, 0-4).

“That was an awesome win, perhaps the best win we’ve had since I’ve been here at Topsail,” Davis said. “They have a legendary history and they have an excellent football team but our kids played a truly outstanding game.”

The Pirates served notice right from the start that they took the 73.07 (146.14 round trip) to Clinton for business, not pleasure, and Williams was the instigator when he bolted 74 yards for an early touchdown. Alex Webster was true on the first of his four extra-point conversions to give the Pirates a 7-0 lead.

An interception set Topsail up again with good field position, and they took full advantage of the opportunity when Schoenleber connected with senior Matt Gilgo on a 35-yad scoring pass for a 14-0 advantage.

It became 21-0 after one quarter when Williams raced in from seven-yards out just prior to the end of the period. The Dark Horses closed to within 21-7 early in the second quarter when Tykerton Stevens blasted into the end zone on a two-yard run, but the Pirates answered quickly when Schoenleber capped a drive off with a one-yard quarterback sneak to restore the Pirates’ 21-point lead at 28-7.

Just before the half the Dark Horses closed to within 14 at 28-14 on a one-yard run by Demonto Bryant but – surprisingly – that would be the last time either team would find the end zone.

“When we started the second half we felt, if we stopped them on their first possession, we’d be in pretty good shape,” Davis said. “We were confident they couldn’t score on us so we toned down the offense and worked harder on the defensive side of the football.”

The action in the always-tough East Central 2A Conference renews on Friday at 7:30 p.m. when the Croatan Cougars come to Hampstead.

“They have two or three really good skill kids, and their quarterback is big and he runs a lot of quarterback power plays. We’ll do some work on that this week but I think we’re in for another tough, physical game.”

Topsail            21-  7-0-0=28

Clinton             0-14-0-0=14

First Quarter

Topsail – Devin Williams 74 run (Alec Webster kick)

Topsail – Matt Gilgo 35 pass from Austin Schoenleber (Alex Webster kick)

Topsail – Devin Williams 15 run (Alec Webster kick)

Second Quarter

Clinton – Tykerton Stevens 2 run (Justin Parker kick)

Topsail – Austin Schoenleber 1 run (Alec Webster kick)

Clinton – Demonto Bryant 1 run (Justin Parker kick)

Individual Statistics: Rushing – Topsail: Devin Williams 25-248, Josh Jessup 13-73, Austin Schoenleber 4-30. Clinton: Tykerton Stevens 16-92, Demonto Bryant 9-71, Spencer Jacobs 8-27. Passing – Topsail: Austin Schoenleber 6-10-120. Clinton: Greg Smith 4-13-103. Receiving – Topsail: Hunter Jacobs 1-37, Addison Futrell 1-32, Matt Gilgo 2-51. Clinton: Demonto Bryant 3-54, Chris Royal 1-49. Defense – Topsail: Josh Jessup 15 tackles.

06th Oct2012

Lady Patriots escape Teachey With five-game win over WRH

by Lee Wagner

TEACHEY – Coaches and players alike on most good high-school athletic teams know who is good and who is not when it comes to their opponents, and sometimes – for a variety of reasons – they wind up making things tough on themselves.

That was more-than-likely the case last night when the Pender High School volleyball team traveled to Teachey for a second go-around with a Wallace-Rose Hill team they had beaten 3-0 (25-4, 25-12, 25-15) a little under a month ago.

Last night the Lady Patriots jumped out to a two-games-to-none advantage and Pender Coach Matt Davis went to his bench. They played well in the third game, even with the Lady Bulldogs coming away with a victory, and Davis decided to give them another full game, which also went to Wallace.

The five-game win by Pender will say it almost backfired, but the 15-4 win in the third game says Davis knew what he was doing, and knew his first group was capable of responding to any real challenge from Wallace and, in end, he was right.

Kayvia Thompson finished the night with six kills and seven aces and Jackie Sanabria had 17 assists, a block, and three aces as Pender defeated Wallace-Rose Hill 3-2 (25-13, 25-23, 18-25, 16-25, 15-4) on Thursday in a tri-county 1A Conference volleyball match in Teachey.

The Lady Patriots improved to 15-4 overall and 12-0 in the conference. They have a non-conference make-up match with Wilmington Christian Academy (17-4) on Monday at home on Breast Cancer Awareness Night before heading to Salemburg on Tuesday for a first-place conference showdown with Lakewood on Tuesday.

“Overall I was pleased with what we did,” Davis said. “Despite having to go five against a team we beat in three last time. We got some good work in for the second unit. And you have to give credit to Wallace, they played much better on their home floor.

“Journey (Knowles) has shown the ability over the past several games to hold her own both on the front and back lines, which is encouraging, and Meghan (Cleary) has also shown she can get kills when needed. Sometimes when you get into situations like the last several games teams have a tendency to get frustrated with one another, but not us. We have stayed together and have carried each other through the tough stretches and still came out on top. That will be important moving into the playoffs.”

The night was plagued with odd occurrences. Throughout the first game Wallace was struggling to stay in rotation both when receiving serve and when serving. They gave up what may have been eight or more points because of this, and it gave the whole game a disjointed feel.

After each point there were several minutes of pause to explain why they were out of rotation, and there was never any real rhythm to the game. Brianna Pittman had two big kills in an early run, and even with the distractions the Lady Patriots appeared strong in rolling to a 12-point win.

The second game started strangely as well as a disruption from a fan caused an extended conference from the officials and really kept any team from gaining any momentum.

Pender had the game pretty much in hand thanks to strong serving from Thompson but Wallace got a hot server of their own that ran off five quick points to pull close at the end. K. B. Hansley had two late kills to give the Lady Patriots the victory.

Davis made massive substitutions to start the third game.

“In order to make sure our backups are ready when they are called upon in the upcoming playoffs they started the third game despite the close score in the second game,” Davis said.

The second unit had some early struggles but found a rhythm that hadn’t been there for either team earlier in the evening. Amber Pyland and Meagan Cleary had three kills in the game as they led the charge back but a block by Wallace eventually gave them a seven-point win.

Despite the loss Davis stayed with the second unit in the fourth game and they were able to keep the game close early on before Wallace found a hot server to open a four-point lead.

The Lady Bulldogs’ lead grew from there and, at one point, got to eight before Davis began inserting his starters. The rest seemed to have a negative effect as they struggled with their serve, missing five in the short time they were in, but the overall goal was accomplished as they got back into the flow of the game even with Wallace getting a nine-point win.

Wallace was able to tie the score at 3-3 in the fifth game but Sanabria had a strong run of serves in pushing the score to 8-3. After a kill by Wallace made it 8-4 Pender got the serve back on a kill by Pittman, and never gave it back.

Ruby Gasca was the server and she had two aces in the final surge, and had several others force easy balls for Pender as they ran away with an 11-point victory.

Pender            25-25-18-16-15

WRH              13-23-25-25-  4

Pender: Kayvia Thompson 6 kills, 7 aces, 1 dig; K. B. Hansley 4 kills, 1 block, 3 digs; Brenee’ Jones 1 kill, 1 block; Ruby Gasca 3 aces; Jackie Sanabria 17 assists, ,1 block, 3 aces; Alyssa Carter 2 kills; Brianna Pittman 6 kills, 1 block; Journey Knowles 1 block, 2 digs; Meghan Cleary 3 kills, 34 aces; Katy Stewart 4 assists, 2 aces; J. T. Taylor 1 kill, 2 blocks, 1 dig; Amber Pyland 3 kills, 2 digs.

06th Oct2012

Lady Titans end tough period with victory over Lady Spartans

by Lee Wagner

ROSE HILL – Mark Twain once said, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog,” and despite some tough losses over the last couple of weeks that allowed a 4-1 conference record dissipate into a 5-6 mark, you can bet on one thing – the fight never left the girls on the Trask High School volleyball team.

That was never more evident than on Thursday night when the Lady Titans disregarded the five losses in their last six games to gain their second victory of the year over the Lady Spartans of Union as their playoff hopes lay in the balance.

There is still a couple of conference games left on the schedule as Trask fights for one of the five coveted playoff slots out of the Tri-County 1A Conference but be assured of one thing, the Lady Titans under the leadership of Coach Karen Byrd won’t go down without a fight.

Becca Alvis had 16 service points and 10 assists, and Chrishonda Brown had 15 points and five digs as Trask held off Union for a 3-1(18-25, 25-17, 25-14, 25-15) Tri-County 1A Conference road win on Thursday.

The Lady Titans improved to 7-9 overall and evened their conference record at 6-6. They have a home match on Senior Night on Tuesday (Oct. 9) against James Kenan before ending the regular season with a tough road match at Pender.

Trask lost in five (20-25, 25-23, 24-26, 25-13, 12-15) to the Lady Tigers on the road on Sept. 13, and fell 3-1` (11-25, 18-25, 25-18, 10-25) to the Lady Patriots at home on Sept. 18.

The Lady Titans’ junior-varsity team also had a successful road trip, bringing a 2-1(25-20, 25-27, 25-21) win back with them to Titantown. Katelyn Freisen had two kills and three blocks in that win, which produced an 8-8 overall record, and a 6-6 mark in the conference.

Trask              18-25-25-25

Union              25-17-14-15

Trask: Rachel Wilson 9 kills; Neisha James 9 kills; Katelyn Andreassen 5 kills, 6 points, Chrishonda Brown 15 points, 5 digs; Becca Alvis 16 points, 10 assists.

06th Oct2012

Lady Bulldogs bounce back from tough loss to defeat Pamlico

by Lee Wagner

HOLLY RIDGE – A lot of negative things took place on Tuesday when the Dixon High School volleyball team traveled to Jacksonville for a crucial rematch with Southwest Onslow – among them the loss of one of their top players when she withdrew from the team.

The shock of that event was evident as the Lady Bulldogs suffered a three-game loss to the Lady Stallions which dropped them into a three-way tie for first place with Southwest and Pamlico.

Those things were bad enough but things had the potential to get a whole lot worse yesterday (Thursday) when Pamlico came to Holly Ridge. But resilience is a byword for today’s young people, and somehow the Lady Bulldogs found a supply of that, and determination, and this morning the Dixon fans, coaches, and players can – at least temporarily – breathe a sigh of relief.

In what Lady Bulldogs’ Coach Heather Moore referred to as a, “Must-win game,” her players responded behind 19 digs, 12 service points, and 10 kills from senior Miranda Davis, 19 assists, 13 kills, and eight digs from senior Kelsey Pearce, and 16 points and 10 digs from their classmate Allison Brown to defeat Pamlico 3-2 (20-25, 25-13, 24-26, 25-14, 15-8) on Thursday in a key Coastal Plains 1A Conference match in Holly Ridge.

Dixon improved to 7-6 overall and 5-1 in the conference to keep pace with Southwest Onslow (10-4, 5-1), which defeated Jones, Sr. 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-16) on Thursday. Pamlico, which still has a mach left against SWO and a home match remaining against Dixon, fell to 11-5 and 4-2.

Dixon was coming off a pair of defeats – a 3-0 (21-25, 20-25, 16-25) non-conference loss to Wilmington Christian Academy (17-4) on Monday and Tuesday’s loss to SWO, so the win over Pamlico was a huge one.

But it didn’t look too promising early as the Lady Bulldogs dropped a 25-20 decision to the Lady Hurricanes to start off the evening. But they bounce back to win the second game, evening the match at 1-1.

“The second game was just what we needed,” Moore said. “It seemed to spark them and it told the girls we could beat them.”

Pamlico came back to win the third game but, again, the Lady Bulldogs displayed a heavy dose of resilience with a somewhat overpowering11-point in the fourth game. That sent the match into the deciding 15-point, final game, and the momentum from game four carried over as the Lady Bulldogs cruised to a seven-point victory.

“In those last two our passers (Davis, Brown, and senior Caitlin Trexel) had excellent games and it made out hitters’ job easier,” Moore said.

The loss to SWO came just hours after Moore was informed Hannah Sorenson would no longer be playing volleyball.

“She is not playing of her own accord,” said Moore who indicated in a later discussion that she still had been given a reason for the action.”There was a lot of emotion, and frustration, Tuesday but all I asked of the girls was they play hard.

“No team is comprised of just one player but with no time to practice or prepare it was hard. It was SWO in their gym, and they want to win the conference, too.

Dixon has a game at home next Tuesday (Oct. 9) against Jones, Sr., a trip to Bayboro for a rematch with the Lady Hurricanes on Oct. 10, and a home game on Senior Night on Thursday (Oct. 11) against East Carteret before visiting Lejeune to end the regular season on Oct. 16.

Pamlico           25-13-26-14-  8

Dixon              20-25-24-25-15

Dixon: Allison Brown 16 points, 5 kills, 10 digs, 3 aces; Miranda Davis 12 points, 10 kills, 19 digs, 3 aces, 1 block; Kelsey Pearce 9 points, 13 kills, 19 assists, 2 aces, 8 digs.

Dixon              21-20-16

SWO               25-25-25

Dixon: Caitlin Trexel 15 digs, 3 points; Kelsey Pearce 4 points, 5 assists, 3 kills, 2 aces; Kellie Peterson 8 points, 7 assists.

SWO: Naya Burney 9 kills; Alexis France 4 kills; Taylor Marley 7 kills; Hali Bozenhart 6 aces.

05th Oct2012

Everybody plays and contributes In Topsail’s
volleyball win over Clinton

by Lee Wagner

HAMPSTEAD – Roget’s Thesaurus gives several definitions for the words routine and mundane including usual, habitual, customary and standard for routine and humdrum and commonplace for  mundane, and in a lot of ways all of those definitions were part of the volleyball contest between Topsail High School and conference foe Clinton last night in Hampstead.

Topsail cruised – easily – through the first two games, giving up the almost uncanny total of nine offensive points to the Lady Dark Horses in the two games, thus prompting Lady Pirates Coach Hill Pearsall to substitute early and often, and to sit most of the starters completely in the third game.

That’s when things again became fun and exciting as a group of girls that hold the future of Topsail volleyball in their hands played well and celebrated often with unabashed enthusiasm in getting a seven-point win in that final game.

It was fun to watch and exciting to witness the future if you were a Lady Pirates’ fan, not-so-much if you were from Clinton.

Senior Carlie Smith had nine service points, nine kills, four blocks, three aces, an assist, and eight digs while playing just the first two games, and Angie Poage had 12 points, four aces, three kills, 15, assists, and nine digs as Topsail rolled a 3-0 (25-10, 25-14, 25-18) win over Clinton on Thursday in an East Central 2A Conference volleyball game.

The Lady Pirates improved to 16-3 overall and 11-0 in the conference in their quest to become the undefeated conference champions for the third year in a row – running their conference winning streak to41 in the process.

A win next Tuesday at Croatan (6-8, 4-5) would clinch no worse than a tie for the conference title, and a win the following Thursday (Oct. 11) at Richlands (1-14, 1-10) would give Topsail the conference crown outright before the season-ending home match (Tuesday, Oct. 16) against Swansboro (9-6, 8-3) on Senior Night.

“It was just a nice match to give our young kids some experience,” Topsail Coach Hill Pearsall said. “We had a chance to work on our placement serving and some other things. Sometimes a match like this is good but we have to concentrate now on the next one, Croatan at their place will be tough.”

Thursday night was not tough at any point. After Clinton grabbed a 2-1 lead, the Lady Pirates went on a four-point run and a five-point surge to virtually put the game out of reach early. Smith had a kill in the first run and Summer Darnell added an ace, and Smith had two aces, and Sarah Woodward had a kill in the second run that opened a 10-4 lead.

Topsail led 17-7 when Poage fueled a six-point burst that opened the advantage to 23-7. A three-point effort from the Lady Dark Horses made it 23-10 but a block by Smith and an ace by Darnell put the first win in the books.

Sophomore Kayla Hyatt had a hot hand in the second game with four kills and a pair of blocks. Topsail led 4-2 when Smith and the Lady Pirates regained the service, and they led 10-2 when they turned it back over to Clinton. Kills by Poage, Reagan Holloway, and Hyatt, and an ace by Smith were the highlights of the run.

Clinton could never muster any offensive runs – four two-pointers were the best they could do – and Topsail continually pulled away with a kill by Hyatt giving her team a two-games-to-none advantage.

Smith, Darnell, and Holloway took seats on the bench for the third game, Poage – the regular setter – moved to outside hitter, and Sammi Proulx, Kaleigh Bordeaux, Ali Broadbridge, and recently-elevated (from the junior varsity) sophomore Annie Johnson got extensive playing time along with Jenna Register in the game, and they performed admirably.

Clinton never led in the game, although they did get to within one on a few occasions. Topsail led 23-19 late before a kill by Broadbridge and a kill by Woodward ended the game and the match.

Register finished  the night with four points, nine assists, an ace, and a dig, Broadbridge had two kills, two assists, and two assists, Proulx had an ace, four points, and a pair of digs, Bordeaux had two digs, and Johnson – after overcoming a bit of nerves in her first varsity game – finished with two points, a kill, and three digs.

“Topsail is the best team in the conference,” said Clinton Coach Jennifer Miller in a post-game interview with the Sampson Independent. “I thought that we had a few too many ball-handling mistakes and you can’t do that against a team like Topsail and expect to win.”

Clinton           10-14-18

Topsail            25-25-25

Topsail: Carlie Smith 9 points, three aces, 9 kills, 4 blocks, 8 digs, 1 assist; Summer Darnell 5 points, 2 aces, 1 kill, 1 assist, 3 digs; Jenna Register 4 points, 9 assists, 1 ace, 1 dig; Reagan Holloway 3 points, 3 kills, 3 digs, 1 ace; Lacey Akerley 3 points, 3 kills, 5 digs, 1 block; Kayla Hyatt 2 points, 2 aces, 6 kills, 5 blocks, 3 digs; Angie Poage 12 points, 15 assists, 3 kills, 4 aces, 9 digs; Sarah Woodward 1 point, 1 ace, 5 kills, 1 assist, 1 dig; Chandler Skipper 7 digs, 2 kills; Ali Broadbridge 2 kills, 2 assists, 2 digs; Annie Johnson 2 points, 1 kill, 3 digs; Sammi Proulx 4 points, 1 ace, 2 digs; Kaleigh Bordeaux 2 digs.

Clinton: Maggie Wells 1 kill, 1 ace; Tori Tyndall 4 kills; Peyton Mitchell 7 digs, 2 kills; Tiandra Johnson 4 kills, 3 aces, 1 block; Jamie Jones 2 kills; Spencer Norris 1 kill, 1 ace; Jessica Bell 1 ace.

05th Oct2012

Week six area high school football previews

by Lee Wagner

Each Friday Topsail News Online’s Lee Wagner will give a breakdown of each game our four local high school football teams will play. The feature will include breakdowns for not only our local team but their opponents. Stay tuned each week.


WHERE & WHEN: At Clinton High School, Clinton, 7:30 p.m.

COACHES: Topsail – Bryan Davis, 7th year (36-25); Clinton – Bob Lewis.

SEASON’S RECORD: Topsail is 3-3 after a 26-21 loss to East Duplin, a 35-10 loss to Northside, a 47-20 win over South Lenoir, a 16-13 win over Trask, a 26-7 win over 4A Ashley, and a 22-20 loss to Pender. Clinton is 4-3 with wins over Swansboro (54-28), Richlands (58-14), Union (18-13), and Wallace-Rose Hill, and losses to Croatan (14-6), East Bladen (33-28), and Triton (25-21).

NEXT GAME: Topsail is home against Croatan and Clinton is at East Duplin.

LAST PLAYED: Topsail beat Clinton 49-20 on Oct. 7, 2011.


KEY PLAYERS FOR CLINTON: RB Tykearion Stevens, RB Silas Herring, RB Spencer Jordan QB Greg Smith.

KEY PLAYERS FOR TOPSAIL: Sr. RB/OLB Devin Williams, Soph. QB Austin Schoenleber, Sr. QB/WR/OLB Matt Gilgo, Sr. TE/DE Trevor Savidge, Sr. TE/LB Mason Kimmel, Sr. OL/DE Ben Houghton, Jr. OL/LB Jakeem Smith, Sr. PK Alex Webster, Sr. P/WR/DB Palmer Rice.

FOR CLINTON TO WIN: Any time you are facing a team with Bob Lewis as head coach you usually are in for a battle. That said, it’s hard to put a finger on how good – or bad – this team is. They can score (199 points) but 112 of those points came against teams (Swansboro and Richlands) with combined records of 5-9. They also give up a lot of points (133). Lewis’ teams are notorious for their rushing game and this group is no different behind Stevens and a fine stable of running backs. They must move the ball downfield on a consistent basis to keep Topsail’s offense sidelined or we’re in for a shootout here. Defensively, must contain both running and passing game of the Pirates.

FOR TOPSAIL TO WIN: I sound like broken record but getting healthy would be a good start. This is a good football team that has yet to play its best football. Pirates must get into end zone often against high-scoring Dark Horses. To do that Topsail must mix up pass and run to keep their defense off balance. Defensively, stop – or contain – the Clinton running game and make them throw the ball – something they do not necessarily do well.


WHERE & WHEN: At Hobbton High School, Newton Grove, 7:30 p.m.

COACHES: Trask –  Bill Mercier (0-3); Hobbton – Jeff Byrd.

SEASON’S RECORD: Trask is 0-6 after a 38-0 loss to WRH, a 27-3 loss to Lakewood, a 22-19 loss to Midway, a 42-14 loss to Ashley, a 26-14 loss to North Brunswick and 16-13 loss to Topsail. Hobbton is 1-6 with a first-game win over Princeton followed by losses to Fairmont (36-0), Union (25-7), West Columbus (32-24), North Duplin (42-7), Pender (52-0), and James Kenan (25-7).

NEXT GAME: Trask is home against Union and Hobbton is at Lakewood.

LAST PLAYED: Trask beat Hobbton 40-10 on Oct. 7, 2011.


KEY PLAYERS FOR HOBBTON: QB Zack Barksdale, RB Rashad Davis, K Eli Escalara, RB Charles Chestnut,

KEY PLAYERS FOR TRASK: WR/FS Arthur Brown, WR/DB Ethan Bishoff, FB/LB Quan Brown, RB/DB Jakita Lane, RB/LB D. J. Love, TE/DE Kemodrick James, T/NG Josh Smith

FOR HOBBTON TO WIN: This game has all the makings of a barn-burner – two teams desperate for a win with combined records of 1-12. Hobbton gives up a lot of points (229 – 32.6 per game) and they do not score much (58 points or 8.3 per game) and they will have to do better than that to beat Trask, who may be best 0-6 team around. Wildcats must move the ball with some consistency and they cannot afford to turn the ball over. Defensively concentrate on the run with Johnson out for the Titans.

FOR TRASK TO WIN: Titans have Union (4-3), James Kenan (6-0), and Pender (2-4) left on schedule and Pender game is in Burgaw so this is – yes, say it – a must-win game, but the question is how with Johnson out for the year and the QB position up in the air. Must run the ball, and run some more against a porous Hobbton defense, and must hold onto the football to complete the drives with six-pointers. Defensively, Hobbton is a running team, too, so stack the box and stop the run. This could either be 34-32 or 6-3.


WHERE & WHEN: At Pender High School, Burgaw, 7:30 p.m.

COACHES: Pender – Tony Hudson, 2nd year (5-12); Midway – Tommy Sloan.

SEASON’S RECORD: Pender is 2-4 after a 52-0 win over Hobbton, a 22-20 win over Topsail, a 40-20 loss to James Kenan, a 41-18 loss to Whiteville, a 21-16 loss to North Brunswick, and a 35-28 loss to Union. Midway is 4-3 with wins over Trask (32-19), Rosewood (44-7), and Princeton (62-30), and losses to Lakewood (20-7), Wallace-Rose Hill (13-10), and South Johnston (33-10).

LAST PLAYED: Midway beat Pender 14-12 on Oct. 7, 2011.


NEXT GAME: Pender is home against WRH and Midway is home against James Kenan.

KEY PLAYERS FOR MIDWAY: QB Taylor Calcutt, Jr. RB Cody Baker, RB Aaron Thurman, WR Troy Spell.

KEY PLAYERS FOR PENDER: Soph. FB Sam Dixon, QB Nickey Wells, OL/DL Kymothy Murphy, OL/DL Jacob Dew, RB/LB Caleb Johnson, WR/S Rashawn Deloach, RB/CB Julius Powell, G/DE Zach Jones, T/DE Andre Donaldson

FOR MIDWAY TO WIN: Another enigma here. Raiders have four wins against teams with a combined record of 5-20 but they hung tough in losses to WRH and Lakewood, so that’s impressive. Must sustain long drives on offense and hold onto the football so Pender offense can’t get a crack at a defense that has given up 143 points. Defensively, stop Dixon and contain Wells.

FOR PENDER TO WIN: Somehow I like Pender’s chances here. Patriots have enough firepower to move the ball against the Raiders and – if they do not turn it over – can put it in the end zone multiple times. Defensively they must flow to the ball, cause some turnovers or other mistakes, and capitalize.


At Pamlico High School, Bayboro, 7:30 p.m.

COACH: Dixon – Ray Swaney, 4th year (13-27); Pamlico – Alan Woodard.

SEASON’S RECORD: Dixon is 3-3 after wins over Spring Creek (33-7), Princeton (24-20) and Mattamuskeet (34-0), and losses to Southwest Onslow (48-19), Swansboro (30-22) and North Duplin (28-24). Pamlico is 1-5 with a win over East Carteret (4-28), and losses to Ayden-Grifton (36-6), West Craven (24-8), Southside (30-8), Northside-Pinetown (22-8), and Croatan (21-0).

NEXT GAME: Dixon is at Jones, Sr. and Pamlico is at Lejeune.

LAST PLAYED: Dixon beat Pamlico 10-0 on Oct. 7, 2011.


KEY PLAYERS FOR PAMLICO: No roster or information available.

KEY PLAYERS FOR DIXON: Sr. QB/S C. D. Hansley, Sr. C Travis Padgett, Sr. TE/DE Bryan Moore, Sr. T/DT Austin Rosensteel, Sr. DT Jake Strong, Sr. DT Eric Parker.

FOR PAMLICO TO WIN: One win and five losses pretty much says it all. The Hurricanes have 68 offensive points (11.3 per game) and have given up 126 (21 per game) points so they cannot score, and they play mediocre defense, and I do not think that is good enough to beat Dixon.

FOR DIXON TO WIN: First, survive the ride on an activity bus to Bayboro. After that move the ball against a not-so-good defense, hold onto the football, and finish the drives with touchdowns. Defensively, be tough, fill the holes, and cause mistakes. With Jones, Sr. (0-6), East Carteret (1-5), and Lejeune (3-4) ahead this could be the start of something good, and a 7-3 record heading into the playoffs off four-straight wins would be a heck of a building block.

04th Oct2012

Lady Patriots retain winning edge with road win at Midway

by Lee Wagner

DUNN – As the year progresses – and with an extremely important match at Lakewood looming on the schedule – the target on the collective backs of the Pender High School volleyball team keeps getting bigger and bigger and the other teams on the Lady Patriots schedule would love nothing better than to hand them their first loss of the year in this, their last, in the Tri-county 1A Conference they have dominated over the last five years.

Count the Midway Lady Raiders among that group of teams, and yesterday in Dunn they gave it all they had, and actually took Pender to four games before succumbing – quite a step up from the three game (25-19, 25-14, 25-10) pasting they took in Burgaw back on Sept. 6.

But the Lady Patriots are big-game tested, a tribute to their pre-conference schedule with games against the likes of 3A West Brunswick (twice), 4A Laney (twice), 4A Hoggard (once), and 2A power Topsail (twice).

Pender lost once each to Laney, Hoggard, West, and Topsail but they haven’t lost since Sept. 5, and Tuesday in Dunn that didn’t change.

Senior Kayvia Thompson had 13 kills, five aces, and four digs, junior setter Jackie Sanabria had 28 assists and two aces, and sophomore Brianna Pittman had seven kills and three blocks as Pender defeated Midway 3-1 (25-11, 25-23, 18-25, 25-18) on Tuesday in a Tri-County 1A Conference match.

Pender is now 14-4 overall and 11-0 in the conference with three games remaining in the regular season. The first of those three is tomorrow (Thursday) at Wallace-Rose Hill and the final game is on Oct. 11 at home against neighboring Trask.

Sandwiched in between is a road trip to Salemburg for a game with the Lady Leopards , who are 10-1 in the conference – the only loss coming by a 3-1 (23-25, 25-14, 25-18, 25-23) to Pender on Sept. 13.

“I was pleased with the way we played tonight,” Pender Coach Matt Davis said. “Our energy level was where I like to see it and where I hope it stays going into the post season. Except for a few points our communication seems to be peaking and if we get that going we’ll just keep getting better.”

Midway is a team notorious for their hustle and determination and keeping the ball alive and Tuesday’s first game was no exception. But the Lady Patriots persevered and kept their hitting mistakes at a minimum until Thompson, Ruby Gasca, and Cassidy Miller put together successive service runs of five or more points, and Thompson added four kills to help secure the opening-game 14-point win. K. B. Hansley chipped in with four critical digs in two separate rallies that were momentum swingers.

In the second game the Patriots were unable to put together any long service runs. Every time it looked like they would get one going, instead of aces, the balls were catching the net and staying on Pender’s side for misses.

Pender still led 24-16 when they seemed to lose their focus a bit and Midway made a run with some tough serving of their own but the Lady Patriots held on for the second-game win.

With two wins in the books, Davis turned to the second team and, after some early-game jitters, they played well. Amber Pyland had four kills and Journey Knowles had two key blocks along with a kill but the Midway serving game was a little too tough and the Lady Raiders secured a seven-point win.

Miller was the opening server for Pender in the fourth game and, with the help of two aces by Miller, the Lady Patriots vaulted out to an 8-1 lead. Sanabria had a strong game setting and Pittman was the happy recipient with three key kills. In the end, Pender had too many hitters for Midway to compete, and Brenee’ Jones and Alyssa Carter chipped in to secure the win, and the match.

Pender            25-25-18-25

Midway          11-23-25-18

Pender: Kayvia Thompson 13 kills, 5 aces, 4 digs; K. B. Hansley 5 kills, 2 digs; Brenee’ Jones 3 kills, 2 blocks; Ruby Gasca 2 aces, 12 dig; Jackie Sanabria 28 assists, 2 aces; Alyssa Carter 4 kills, 2 aces, 6 digs; Cassidy Miller 1 kill, 3 aces, 5 digs; Journey Knowles 1 kill, 2 blocks, 1 ace; Meghan Cleary 1 kill; Katy Stewart 4 assists; J. T. Carter 1 ace, 1 dig; Amber Pyland 3 kills.

04th Oct2012

Lady Titans fall for fifth time in last six games

by Lee Wagner

ROCKY POINT – Struggles are part of sports – and life, at times – and the Trask High School volleyball team is currently in the midst of some struggles that have pretty taken them from contention for a top spot in the conference, and a very good seeding in the upcoming NCHSAA 1A state volleyball tournament, to a team that is now on the fence as to whether a playoff position is even in the cards.

But good teams, even when in a slump, find a way to persevere, and this group of Lady Titans have shown time-and-again there is no quit in them even if the road ahead is full of potential potholes.

Chrishonda Brown had 20 service points, three aces, and five digs, and Kassidy Tyer had 10 points and 10 digs but it was not enough to stave off defeat as Trask fell 3-2 (27-29, 25-17, 18-25, 25-10, 9-15) to Hobbton Tuesday night in a Tri-County 1A Conference volleyball game in Titantown.

The Lady Titans fell to 6-9 overall and 5-6 in the conference with three games remaining in the regular season. Trask is on the road Thursday against Union, and at home next Tuesday (Oct. 9) against James Kenan, and they are virtually must wins since the Lady Titans close the season with a road game at first-place, and currently unbeaten (in conference), Pender.

Trask beat Union 3-0 (25-13, 25-13, 25-4) on Sept. 11, and they lost 3-2 (20-25, 25-23, 24-26, 26-24,12-15) in a tough match on Sept. 13. Pender defeated Trask 3-1(11-25, 25-18, 18-25, 25-10) on Sept. 18.

The younger Lady Titans fared a bit better on this evening as they recorded a 2-0 (25-14, 25-8) win over Hobbton. Emilee Buchanon had 12 service points and Desire Brown had eight points for the Lady Titans, who are now 7-8 overall and 5-6 in the conference.

Hobbton         29-17-25-10-15

Trask              27-25-18-25-  9

Trask: Chrishonda Brown 20 points, 3 aces, 5 digs; Kassidy Tyer 10 points, 10 digs; Neiosha James 12 kills; Rachel Wilson 8 kills; Becca Alvis 14 assists; Anna Brodmerkel 8 assists.

04th Oct2012

Topsail selects new girls’ basketball coach

by Contributor

HAMPSTEAD – Several weeks ago the administration at Topsail High School found themselves in a position seeking a new girls’ basketball coach after Sarah Graves – the coach the previous five seasons – left the Pender County School System to take a teaching position at Forest Hills Elementary School in Wilmington, a position that would preempt her chances of continuing as the Lady Pirates’ coach.

So Topsail Principal Berry Simmons and Athletics’ Director B. J. Horne initiated the search and came away with five excellent candidates to interview for the position, prospective coaches from near and far – including Washington State – but in the end they only had to travel to a second floor Social Studies classroom in their own building to find their man.

Today, Horne announced that James “Jim” Clanahan, a first-year History teacher and assistant football coach under Bryan Davis, has been selected as the new girls’ basketball coach at Topsail.

“We felt Jim was the best candidate for the job at this time,” Horne said. At this time of the year he’s in the building and we felt that was important to keep continuity in the program. Plus he has a vast array of experience.”

Clanahan began his coaching career at Aliceville High School in Alabama in 1974 and moved to Parkview High School near Atlanta in 1980, serving as the head coach there for five years before moving over to Central Gwinnett in 1985 where he was an assistant coach for the first five years and the head man the next five seasons.

Clanahan stepped aside after the 1995 season because his son, James, was starting his high school and collegiate career, and he had heard several stories about other coaches missing out on seeing their children perform.

“My son started playing and I got out of coaching for a few years to watch him play,” Clanahan said. “Over the span of the next eight years he played in 128 games combined in high school and college, and I am proud to say I saw 124 of them.”

Clanahan had retired as a full-time teacher and coach but he resumed both as a part-time teacher and coach at South Gwinnett, and he was an assistant on the girls’ team at Peachtree Ridge High School under his son last season.”

“Clanahan admitted he knows little about the girls’ program at Topsail but he said he was looking forward to the opportunity.

“I don’t know much but coaching is basically about evaluating the players and figuring out the best way to coach them and utilize both their individual skills and team cohesiveness. I’m looking forward to it. The kids here are nice kids. I’m not the end all or be all, but I’ve been around the game a long while and I’ve had good and bad teams. My initial goal is to evaluate the players and coach them to be the best they can be, and to help make this program successful.”

Clanahan has indicated he has made no decisions as to assistant coaches but he did say the administration has given him some suggestions and he plans to work on that in the near future.

03rd Oct2012

Lady Pirates inch closer to 3rd straight
conference title with win over S. Lenoir

by Lee Wagner

DEEP RUN – Give the girls on the South Lenoir High School volleyball team some credit, to date they are only team in the East Central 2A Conference to challenge the dominance of the Lady Pirates of Topsail.

The Lady Pirates are now 10-0 in the conference, and they have run their conference consecutive-win streak to 40 dating back to the last two games of the 2009, and continuing with perfect campaigns in 2010, 2011, and- thus far – this year.

This year, in actual games played, they are 30-2, and the only team to beat them in an individual game – twice – is the scrappy South Lenoir Blue Devils.

But winning a game is one thing, winning a match against this Topsail group of girls is another, and as Sonny and Cher once sang many years ago, “The Beat Goes On.”

Sophomore Kayla Hyatt had 15 kills, five blocks, an ace, and six digs, and junior Sarah Woodward came up big in games two and four on service as Topsail defeated South Lenoir 3-1 (25-13, 25-10, 19-25, 25-23) on Thursday in a key East Central 2A Conference game in Deep Run.

The win leaves the Lady Pirates with a 15-3 overall record – their last loss coming on Sept. 10 at 4A Laney – and 10-0 in the conference with four matches left before the end of the regular season.

Topsail will play host to Clinton (7-8, 3-5) on Thursday, travel to Carteret County for a match with Croatan (5-7, 3-4) next Tuesday, and to Richlands (1-13, 1-9) on Thursday, Oct. 11, before closing out the regular season with  a home match against Swansboro (8-6, 7-3) on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

“They (South Lenoir) dug up a lot of the stuff we threw at them and they played good defense,” Topsail Coach Hill Pearsall said. “A lot of our team wasn’t playing on all cylinders and Sarah came along and saved us twice with excellent service runs, and it was a good thing she stepped up like that.”

The Lady Pirates came out in the first game like it was going to be, “See you later,” as they jumped out to a 10-3 lead early behind the service of senior Carlie Smith, and the hitting of Hyatt. Hyatt had three kills and Smith an ace in an eight-point surge that created that advantage.

It was 12-4 before junior Reagan Holloway went back to serve for Topsail, and it was 18-5 when the serve changed hands. Two aces by Holloway sparked the six-point outburst that, for all intents and purposes, ended the competitiveness of the game. Smith closed out the 12-point win with an ace.

The Lady Pirates struggled to get any real runs going in the second game, and they trailed 17-14 when Woodward, a junior, went back to serve. A miss-hit ball by a Lady Blue Devil, a kill by Hyatt, and an ace by Woodward tied the game at 17-17, and a second-straight ace (second of three in the run) gave Topsail a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way.

It was 21-19 when Topsail regained the service and a kill and an ace by Holloway and a kill by Hyatt put the win on the positive side of Topsail’s ledger.

It’s hard to say if the Lady Pirates got overconfident or if the Lady Blue Devils just rose to the occasion – or a combination of both – but South Lenoir dug up hit-after-hit and turned them into points in keeping the third game close. The two squads were deadlocked at 9-9, 10-10, 12-12, 13-13, and 14-14 before the home-town team took control.

A kill by South Lenoir’s outstanding sophomore Madison Herring (9 kills, 2 aces) forged the last tie at 14-14, and the Lady Blue Devils went on from there with a six-point outburst that produced a 19-15 advantage, and they cruised to a 25-19 win, ending their second win over Topsail on a kill by Demeyia Adams.

“After the first two wins we got quiet and the back line went downhill, and we didn’t take advantage of the fact they only had one girl blocking at the net,” senior setter Angie Poage said. “But give them credit, they played real well. In the last game Sarah really took charge and got us the lead, and that made all the difference. A good run like that gets up pumped up, and out outside hitters were getting into position for the hits.”

Through most of that fourth game the two teams went back and forth with 10 ties highlighting the game. Woodward went on serve with the two teams tied at 15-15 and three kills by Hyatt and a Woodward ace produced, what would turn out to be, a crucial 19-15 lead.

South Lenoir tied the game later at 21-21 and 22-22 before a kill by the always-clutch Smith and a pair of hitting errors (one ball out of bounds beyond the back line and another into the net) ended the game, and the match.

Topsail            25-25-19-25

S. Lenoir        13-19-25-23

Topsail: Summer Darnell 8 points, 2 kills, 2 assists, 10 digs; Carlie Smith 17 points, 13 kills, 4 aces, 4 blocks, 16 digs, 1 assist; Reagan Holloway 10 points, 4 aces, 6 kills, 9 digs; Kayla Hyatt 2 points, 15 kills, 5 blocks, 1 ace, 6 digs; Angie Poage 7 points, 25 assists, 1 kill, 18 digs; Sarah Woodward 10 points, 5 aces, 1 block, 2 kills, 4 digs, 4 assists; Jenna Register 1 assist; Sammi Proulx 3 digs; Lacey Akerley 1 kill; Chandler Skipper 4 digs.

S. Lenoir: Taylor Sandlin 4 aces; Maecy Croom 3 kills; Demeyia Adams 5 kills; Rachel Dawson 6 kills, 3 aces; Madison Herring 9 kills, 2 aces; Carolina Jones 6 kills, 1 ace.