22nd Sep2012

Lady Bulldogs rally for 3-2 rout Lady Trojans of Jones Senior

by Lee Wagner

TRENTON – There are some tough matches on the immediate horizon for the Dixon High School volleyball team but last night wasn’t one of them as the Lady Trojans went – as the old cliché’ goes – “Went softly into that gentle night.”

But it may be some time before the Lady Bulldogs enjoy another night like last night as they have games coming up soon against East Carteret, Southwest Onslow, and Pamlico in the conference, and a tough game against a very good Wilmington Christian Academy team in a non-conference tilt before another “breather” comes along on Oct. 9 at home against – of all people – the Lady Trojans.

But, for now the Lady Bulldogs can enjoy Friday’s Homecoming football game against Spring Creek before worrying about anyone else while sitting in sole possession of first place in the conference.

Senior Kelsey Pearce had an outstanding night with 18 service points, 15 assists, four kills, and five aces, and classmate Miranda Davis had seven points, nine kills, and an ace as Dixon quickly disposed of Jones, Sr. 3-0 (25-12, 25-13, 25-10) on Thursday in a Coastal Plains 1A Conference volleyball game in Trenton.

Allison Brown added five points, three kills, and three aces, and Cassidy O’Brien chipped in with five points, two kills, and three aces as Dixon improved to 4-4 overall and 2-0 in the conference.

Dixon must travel to Carteret County on Tuesday for a conference match against the Lady Mariners of East Carteret, and they return home to face Lejeune in another conference match on Thursday (Sept. 27) before facing Wilmington Christian Academy in a non-conference game on Monday (Oct. 1).

Dixon              25-25-25

Jones, Sr.        12-13-10

Dixon: Kelsey Pearce 18 points, 15 assists, 4 kills, 5 aces; Miranda Davis 7 points, 9 kills, 1 ace; Allison Brown 5 points, 3 kills, 3 aces; Cassidy O’Brien 5 points, 2 kills, 3 aces.

22nd Sep2012

Lady Titans fall in five at Midway

by Lee Wagner

DUNN – It’s been a rough, and at times, unfortunate week for the Trask High School volleyball team with a trio of tough losses dousing the fire of enthusiasm in Titantown that came about after a 4-1 start in the conference.

Many years ago, former Major League pitcher Elwin Charles “Preacher” Roe coined the phrase, “Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you,” after being taken out of a game in the second inning, and lately it has been the bear that has been enjoying the cuisine instead of the Lady Titans.

Anna Brodmerkel had 22 assists with Neisha James (12) and Rachel Wilson (8) on the receiving end of many of those assists in combining for 20 kills but it was not enough as Midway defeated Trask 3-2 (16-25, 25-17, 9-25, 25-21, 12-15) on Thursday in a Tri-County 1A Conference volleyball game at Midway.

After jumping off to that overall 5-4 record and 4-1 conference start, the Lady Titans have now fallen to 5-7overall and 4-4 in the conference, and things are going to get a little tougher next Tuesday when they must travel to Salemburg for a conference match with the 12-2 (7-1 in conference) Lady Leopards of Lakewood.

Kassidy Tyer and Chrishonda Brown combined for 20 digs for the Lady Titans.

The young Lady Titans also lost to the Lady Raiders, falling 2-0 (23-25, 15-25) despite eight points, three aces, and two assists from Taylor Rivenburgh. The Trask junior-varsity team is now 5-7overall and 3-5 in the conference.

Trask              16-25-  9-25-12

Midway          25-17-25-21-15

Trask: Neisha James 8 points, 12 kills; Rachel Wilson 8 kills; Anna Brodmerkel 22 assists; Becca Alvis 12 assists; Kassidy Tyer 12 digs; Chrishond Brown 8 digs.

22nd Sep2012

Lady Patriots slip past feisty Hobbton

by Lee Wagner

NEWTON GROVE – Pender High School volleyball Coach Matt Davis made an early decision on Thursday after his Lady Patriots defeated Hobbton by 14 points in the first game and 20 points in the second game of their match, and that decision was to go with some of the bench players and to pretty much turn over the setting duties to young Katy Stewart for a good portion of the rest of the night.

Stewart rewarded her coach’s confidence by performing admirably but the Lady Wildcats apparently took umbrage with all the substitutions and they were no longer intimidated by the Lady Patriots’ size and abilities, and things got a bit interesting.

But, as in most cases, talent and skill prevailed in the end, and the Lady Patriots headed into the weekend with another conference win on the positive side of the statistical ledger.

Stewart finished with 11 assists and three aces, senior Kayvia Thompson continued her excellent play with nine kills, five aces, three digs, and two blocks, and sophomore Brianna Pittman had 10 kills and seven blocks as Topsail slipped past Hobbton 3-2 (25-11, 25-5, 23-25, 21-25, 15-4) on Thursday in a Tri-County 1A Conference volleyball game in Newton Grove.

The win left the Lady Patriots with an overall mark of 11-4 and a perfect conference record of 8-0. Hobbton fell to 7-7 overall and 2-6 in the conference.

“You take out the fourth game and I thought we played well but give credit to Hobbton, they took the momentum from the third game and ran with it,” Davis said. “Katy got a chance to show that we could win with her, she played the second, third, and fifth (deciding) games and she had us running smoothly.

“She struggled with her confidence early on in the season but there was no sign of that tonight, which was nice to see. That is going to be important moving forward, we’re going to need people to be able to come off the bench and play in pressure situations, maybe for a point or two or maybe for longer stretches.

The night began being defined by runs, or the lack thereof in certain cases. Hobbton took early control of the first game with tough serving in jumping out to a 6-0 lead, their lone run of the first two games.

Cassidy Miller then took over the service and was there for 10-straight points. Miller had three aces, and Thompson and Pittman each added a pair of kills in the ruin. After a Hobbton block made it 10-7, Thompson ran off five-straight points with three aces included in the spurt. Hobbton was limited to one-point scoring the
remainder of the game as Pender pulled away for a 14-point victory.

Stewart came on and performed with the first-team hitters and she responded with a strong game which included eight-straight service points and three aces. Hobbton was never able to pair up points, and Davis continued to substitute but it made very little difference in the 20-point win.

Hobbton took it to the Pender reserves in the third game, gaining momentum as the game progressed. Pender played well but their passing off the serve, which has been one of their stronger points, failed them down the stretch as Hobbton held on for a two-point victory. Journey Knowles played well off the bench for Pender with four blocks and a pair of kills.

In game four, Hobbton simply did not let up. Pender’s starters were back on the court after missing most, if not all, of the third game and it took a while for them to get back in the swing of things. Hobbton started to gain confidence and the hits that were going long in the first two games were finding the court, and the Lady Wildcats prevailed again, this time by a 25-21 score.

Hobbton scored the first point in the 15-point fifth-and-deciding game but Thompson answered with a kill off an assist by Stewart, and Miller took over the serve for the Lady Patriots.

When she gave it back it was 5-1 in Pender’s favor and, with the score at 6-2, Thompson took over on serve and the lead mushroomed to 11-2. The run included three aces by Thompson and two kills from Alyssa Carter.

Hobbton put together a two-point run to close to within 11-4 but play by Stewart in getting a tight pass over the net helped the Lady Patriots open up a 13-4 lead, and good sets to K. B. Hansley and Pittman accounted for back-to-back big hits that ended the game, and the match.

Pender has a pair of home games next week, welcoming the Lady Spartans of Union to the Ray Horton Volleyball Court for a conference match on Tuesday, and playing host to James Kenan on Thursday.

Pender beat Union 3-0 (25, 25-10, 25-11) on the road on Aug. 30, and they defeated James Kenan 3-1 (25-14, 25-18, 16-25, 25-20) on the road on Sept. 4.

Pender            25-25-23-21-15

Hobbton         11-  5-25-25-  4

Pender: Kayvia Thompson 9 kills, 2 blocks, 5 aces, 3 digs; K. B. Hansley 4 kills, 1 ace, 4 digs; Brenee’ Jones 1 kill, 3 blocks, 2 digs; Ruby Gasca 3 aces, 12 dig; Jackie Sanabria 1 kill, 13 assists, 1 ace; Alyssa Carter 5 kills, 3 digs; Brianna Pittman 10 kills, 7 blocks; Cassidy Miller 1 assists, 6 aces; Journey Knowles 2 kills, 4 blocks; Meghan Cleary 1 kill; Katy Stewart 11 assists, 3 aces; J. T. Taylor 2 digs; Alysa Bryant 1 ace; Amber Pyland 3 digs.

Hobbton: Taylor Bowden 2 aces, 2 kills, 18 assists; Marcie McLamb 3 kills, 1 assist; Casey Hobbs 9 kills, 1 assist. 2 blocks; Michaela Wilson 4 aces, 7 kills, 1 assist; McKenna Smith 7 kills, 2 assists, 1 block; RayAnn Eldridge 2 aces.

21st Sep2012

Lady Pirates ease past Swansboro

by Lee Wagner

SWANSBORO – A question arose after the game on Thursday night between the volleyball teams of Topsail and Swansboro, and that question is, “Which is better, winning pretty or winning ugly?”

The answer comes in two parts – it is always nice to win comfortably, blowing out your opponent so everyone can play, and allowing the coach of the winning team to sit back and relax, that being known as winning pretty.

But the real truth is there is no difference when it comes to the bottom line –a win is a win – and that is the way Topsail Coach Hill Pearsall and his girls felt after Thursday’s game in Swansboro. While their three-game win over the hometown Lady Pirates won’t garner any time on ESPN’s Sports Center, they are still unbeaten in the conference and atop the standings as the first half of the conference season came to an end.

Senior Carlie Smith put forth her usual excellent effort with eight service points, 14 kills, four blocks, three aces, and 14 digs, classmate Angie Poage set up several of those kills en route to 31 assists, and sophomore Kayla Hyatt had a nice night with two points, eight kills, four blocks, and a pair of digs as Topsail slipped past Swansboro 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-21) on Thursday in an East Central 2A volleyball game.

The win lifted Topsail to an overall record of 12-3 and a more-important conference mark of 7-0 after the first go-around in the eight-team conference. In those seven wins, the Lady Pirates have beaten top contenders East Duplin (12-1, 6-1) in three straight on the road, defeated South Lenoir (10-5, 5-2) in four games in Hampstead, and have now disposed of Swansboro (5-6, 4-3) in three straight on the road.

“The game was really about service errors,” said Pearsall, referring to 10 service errors by Swansboro and nine by his own squad. “There were a lot of really good rallies, and there were times when we really hit the ball and they got it up, so the service for both teams became a very important statistic.

“But this win is a big boost. The girls are really focused on being undefeated one more time and, if not, at least winning the conference on our way out.”

Topsail moves up to 3A in the 2013-14 school year and they will join the split 3A/4A Mid-Eastern Conference next fall. They have currently won 37-consecutive East Central 2A Conference matches.

Thursday’s first game started out like they were going to cruise on this night until, facing an 8-4 deficit, the Swansboro Lady Pirates went on a five-point run that gave them a 9-8 lead.

The match was tied at 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, 11-11, and 12-12 before a three-point spurt by Topsail highlighted by a block by Smith gave her team a 14-11 advantage. It was 15-12 in Topsail’s favor when another three-pointer, sparked by kills from Hyatt and junior Reagan Holloway, produced what the scorer’s table said was an 18-15 lead.

That was wrong, although the officials had to go with the home book. At one point, Topsail was leading 13-12 and the scorers had it 13-12 in Swansboro’s favor. They later, again, awarded a point to Swansboro that should have gone to Topsail.

That lead, however erroneous, survived as Topsail finished off the game from 23-19 on a pair of kills by Smith.

Ties were in abundance in the second game, also, with the two teams finding themselves deadlocked at 10-10, 13-13, 14-14, and 17-17 before Topsail broke away for a 21-17 lead on a four-pointer splurge with all of those four points coming on Swansboro hitting errors. A kill by Smith and an ace by Poage finished off the second-game victory.

Swansboro still had plenty of fight left, and they extended Topsail in the third game. Swansboro led 17-15 before Topsail produced a six-point outburst with Lacey Akerley leading the charge with a pair of aces, and Holloway and Hyatt chipping in with kills to forge a 21-17 Topsail lead. The tie at 18-18 was the eighth tie of the game but the rest of the contest belonged to the visiting Lady Pirates with Smith closing out the game – and the match – with a solid big hit.

It was a tough day for the Topsail girls as they dealt with the death of a classmate earlier in the day.

“We felt like we had to beat Swansboro and we did a good job of working together,” Hyatt said. “Considering what happened today we really pushed to stay focused, and we really pulled together.

“This was big win because now we have beaten our top three contenders but we can’t relax, we still have to continue to play strong.”

That quest for a third-straight conference title, and a third-straight conference unbeaten season, continues on Tuesday when the Lady Pirates travel to Jacksonville for a second go-around with Northside (0-10, 0-7). Topsail beat the Lady Monarchs 3-0 25-12, 25-14, 25-12) on Sept. 30.

Next up is a couple of tough ones as the Lady Pirates will play host to East Duplin (12-1, 6-1) on Thursday in Hampstead before heading to Deep Run for a rematch against South Lenoir (10-6, 5-2) on Tuesday (Oct. 2).

Topsail handed East Duplin its only loss of the season (25-20, 25-15, 25-15) the first time the two teams played, and they defeated the Lady Blue Devils in four games (23-25, 25-10, 25-12, 25-19) in their first meeting, and it is a good bet both teams will be intent on avenging those losses.

Topsail            25-25-25

Swansboro     19-19-21

Topsail:  Carlie Smith 8 points, 14 kills, 4 blocks, 3 aces, 14 digs; Reagan Holloway 4 points, 9 kills, 8 digs; Sarah Woodward 5 points, 1 ace, 1 dig; Kayla Hyatt 2 points, 8 kills, 4 blocks, 3 digs; Angie Poage 4 points, 31 assists. 1 ace, 4 digs, 1 kill; Chandler Skipper 7 digs; Summer Darnell 5 points, 2 kills, 1 ace, 3 digs; Lacey Akerley 7 points, 2 aces, 1 dig; Sammi Proulx 1 dig.

Swansboro: Bobby Rabidou 15 assists, 10 digs, 2 kills; Bernie Brady 12 kills, 1 ace, 1 block; Alyah Johnson 1 kill, 1 block; Toni McTaggert 2 kills, 2 aces; Ashley Oriol 1 kill, 1 block; Kylie Cleve 1 kill, 1 block; Sarah Simpson 1 ace.

21st Sep2012

Week 5 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.

TOPSAIL PIRATES AT EAST DUPLIN PANTHERS

WHERE & WHEN: At East Duplin High School, Beulaville, 7:30 p.m.

COACHES: Topsail – Bryan Davis, 7th year (35-24); Northside – Battle Holley.

SEASON’S RECORD: Topsail is 2-2 after a 35-10 loss to Northside, a 16-13 win over Trask, a 26-7 win over 4A Ashley, and a 22-20 loss to Pender. East Duplin is 4-1 with wins over South Lenoir (48-0), Wallace-Rose Hill (38-6), Northeastern (30-20), and Northwood (31-6), and a 22-21 loss to James Kenan.

NEXT GAME: Topsail is home against South Lenoir, East Duplin is at Richlands.

LAST PLAYED: East Duplin beat Topsail 20-6 on Sept. 21, 2011.

COMMON OPPONENTS: None at this time.

KEY PLAYERS FOR EAST DUPLIN: QB Malik Baker, RB  Favian Laporte, WR Montell Stallings, WR Monquel Baker.

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 EAST DUPLINTO WIN: I am impressed with the Panthers’ record especially considering who they have played. They gave Northeastern (4-1) their only loss and handled a decent Northwood (4-2) team. Also, any time you beat WRH – even in a down year – it is worth noting. Their only loss was to 4-0 James Kenan and that was by one point (22-21). What does it all mean – it means they are good! Offensively they have piled up 158 points (31.6 per game) and they must continue that consistency against a good Topsail defense. Defensively they are tough, too, giving up just 54 points (11.6 per game) but the Pirates have a good offense and East Duplin must be aware of both the running game and the passing game.

FOR TOPSAIL TO WIN: It is not an easy task to face Northside and East Duplin back-to-back but that is the fate of the Pirates, and they must first get the loss to the Monarchs out of their system. Offensively move the ball consistently, mix in the run and the pass, and take time off the clock on long drives to keep Panthers’ offense sitting and restless. Restlessness means mistakes, and the Pirates must force some turnovers and capitalize on them. Don’t think East Duplin is as tough as Northside but it is still going to be a tough game. Winner finishes second in the conference.

LAKEWOOD LEOPARDS AT TRASK TITANS

WHERE & WHEN: At Trask High School, Rocky Point, 7:30 p.m.

COACHES: Trask –  Bill Mercier (0-1); Lakewood – James Lewis.

SEASON’S RECORD: Trask is 0-4 after a 22-19 loss to Midway, 42-14 loss to Ashley, a 26-14 loss to North Brunswick and 16-13 loss to Topsail. Lakewood is 4-1 with wins over Franklinton (49-47), North Duplin (20-0), and Lejeune (28-8) preceding a loss in their last game to Wallace-Rose Hill (27-24).

NEXT GAME: Trask is at Wallace-Rose Hill and Lakewood is home against Midway.

LAST PLAYED: Lakewood beat Trask 28-3 on Sept. 23, 2011.

COMMON OPPONENTS: None so far.

KEY PLAYERS FOR LAKEWOOD: Jr. QB J. J. Tanner, Soph. K David Rivera, Sr. DE Joe Ross Freeman, Sr. TB Kevin Murphy, Jr. DB Jabriel Cooper.

KEY PLAYERS FOR TRASK: QB/FS Larry Johnson, 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 LAKEWOOD TO WIN: The Leopards’ wins over 4-2 Franklinton, 3-1 North Duplin, and 2-3 Lejeune are somewhat impressive but their loss to 2-3 WRH is also somewhat mystifying. Lakewood has proven it can score with 121 points in four games (30.2 per game) and that is scary because Titans’ defense (106 points in four games) has been inconsistent at best. Leopards just have to continue to move the ball and avoid turnovers, and on defense key on Titans’ running game. Trask has scared no one with their passing attack.

FOR TRASK TO WIN: With a week under their belts since Coach Glenn Sellers stepped down for health reasons – and with a solid effort last week against Midway – the Titans should be better this week but Lakewood is a challenge. Offense must find a way to move the ball and avoid turnovers, and that means a passing game which has been missing so far. Defensively the Leopards’ seem to have a diversified offense and, while it will be hard to stop completely, it must be nullified to a certain extent or it will be a long night in Titantown.

PENDER PATRIOTS AT UNION SPARTANS

WHERE & WHEN: At Union High School, Rose Hill, 7:30 p.m.

COACHES: Pender – Tony Hudson, 2nd year (5-10); Union – Douglas Burley.

SEASON’S RECORD: Pender is 2-2 after a 52-0 win over Hobbton, a 22-20 win over Topsail, a 41-18 loss to Whiteville, and a 21-16 loss to North Brunswick. Union is 2-3 with wins over Jones. Sr. (21-7), and Fairmont (21-6) and losses to James Kenan (44-6) and Clinton (18-12).

 LAST PLAYED: Pender beat Union 30-12 on Sept. 23, 2011.

COMMON OPPONENTS: None so far.

NEXT GAME: Pender is home against James Kenan and Union is home against Hobbton.

KEY PLAYERS FOR UNION: Jr. QB/RB.DB Dezmond Faison, Sr. RB/LB Daniel Glover, Sr. K/RB/LB Alfredo Garcia, Sr. FB/LB Bakeem Murphy, Sr. RB/DB Natrone Banks, Sr. LB/TE Jarel Kerr, Sr. DL/OL Anthony Cromartie.

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 UNION TO WIN: Hope this isn’t the kiss of death for Pender but I do not see it happening. Spartans have been inconsistent and their wins are over 2-3 Fairmont – which was routed 51-12 by Ashley – and 0-4 Jones, Sr. Pender presents a pretty stout challenge offensively and Union must find a way to stop the dual running threat of Dixon and Wells. Offensively must move the ball –consistently – and Pender defense been fairly good except against Whiteville.

FOR PENDER TO WIN: Wasn’t there so I don’t really know how they piled up 52 points on Hobbton but – hey – 52 points is 52 points, and if they can come close to simulating that Friday it will be a long night for the Spartans. Run the ball until Union proves it can stop it; running keeps the clock ticking. Defensively, contain Faison and Glover and cause a few turnovers.

SPRING CREEK GATORS AT DIXON BULLDOGS

WHERE & WHEN: At Dixon High School, Holly Ridge, 7:30 p.m.

COACH: Dixon – Ray Swaney, 4th year (12-26); Spring Creek – Aaron Sanders.

SEASON’S RECORD: Dixon is 2-2 after wins over Princeton (24-20) and Mattamuskeet (34-0), and losses to Swansboro (30-22) and North Duplin (28-24). Spring Creek is 0-4 with losses to East Carteret (42-8), Southeast Halifax (52-40), Lejeune (42-14), and South Lenoir (542-7).

NEXT GAME: Dixon is home against Southwest Onslow and Spring Creek is home against Princeton.

LAST PLAYED: Spring Creek beat Dixon 27-14 on Sept. 23, 2011.

COMMON OPPONENTS: None as yet.

KEY PLAYERS FOR SPRING CREEK: 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 SPRING CREEK TO WIN: Again, don’t want to be a jinx, but if Spring Creek beats Dixon it will be a long season for the Bulldogs. Gators are 0-4 and the only team they loss to with any credentials is 4-2 Southeast Halifax. South Lenoir, East Carteret, and Lejeune are a combined 4-10, and they have been outscored by a combined 248-394. There isn’t any information available on the Gators but…DUH!

FOR DIXON TO WIN: Bulldogs are fighting and fighting hard and it is Homecoming so I think they will be fired up enough to handle the Gators. Hansley must direct an efficient offense, and Dixon defense must stand tall against a team that has scored just 69 points (4.7 points a game) and 40 of them came in a 52-40 loss to Southeast Halifax. Next game is Coastal Plains 1A Conference opener against 4-1 SWO so this is a big one for Dixon. This will also be a good barometer for the future as Spring Creek has played – and lost – to Dixon conference foes Lejeune and East Carteret.

20th Sep2012

Pender, Dixon girls doing well as part of CFCC volleyball team

by Lee Wagner

WILMINGTON – As almost everyone who has made the transition from high-school athletics to the collegiate level will tell you, while the fundamentals of the game remain intact, there is a huge difference in the level of competition but that hasn’t  deterred three of this area’s talented female athletes from doing well as members of the Cape Fear Community College Lady Sea Devils’ volleyball team.

Pender’s Jenna Baranowski and Meg Knoerzer are sophomores at Cape Fear, and they have not only experienced the challenges of moving from high school to college, both academically and athletically, but they have also had to endure a coaching change from the coach that recruited them to a new coach in their second year in the program.

Dixon’s Kara Peterson is in her freshman year and she is finding out just how different it is to live on your own, attend and adjust to college courses and classes, adjust to the differences between high-school and college volleyball, and mix work into the equation.

As a young athlete in her freshman and sophomore years at Pender, the taller of the three girls, Knoerzer, often found herself floundering as her size, and athletic ability, and mental abilities to mesh took time to come together.

Former Pender Coach Ray Horton once told Knoerzer she reminded him of, “A calf just learning to walk and gain balance.” But as her junior year came into focus she began to make the transition from a marginal player into a contributor, especially in her blocking abilities at the net. By her senior year, Knoerzer was approaching equal stardom on a team that was loaded with a plethora of talent, and a team that won back-to-back (2009 & 2010) NCHSAA 1A state championships.

That earned Knoerzer a partial volleyball scholarship at Cape Fear under then-coach Ali Pomperani. Along with some other problems in her family life, namely a heroic battle by her mother Melinda Knoerzer who was undergoing treatments for cancer, Knoerzer had to adjust to college academics and to volleyball on a higher level.

“I chose Cape Fear because I wanted to stay close to home because of my mother’s illness, and because they offered me the partial scholarship to play volleyball,” Knoerzer said. “I tried out at Brunswick Community College and Cape Fear, and I just felt Cape Fear was a better fit”

Knoerzer admits it was quite an adjustment for a couple of reasons.

“In high school the girls took basically the same courses and we all lived close and we spent a lot of time together establishing camaraderie and relationships,” Knoerzer said. “But here it’s more difficult to hang out and do things together because some girls live on campus, some (like Knoezer and Baranowski) commute, classes are more staggered depending on your course of study, and some of the girls work.

“Also it’s a lot tougher competitively. In high school you saw mostly teams with one or two, or sometimes three really good players. Now, here and on the other teams, all the girls are good. You have to work harder to earn your spot on the team and in the lineup.”

Then there is the exit of the coach that recruited you.

“In a way switching the head coach was like going back to Phase I,” Knoerzer said. “We were looking forward to taking the next step with Coach Ali and then she was gone.

“But (new CFCC Tabitha) Coach Turner made the transition a little easier. She has different coaching skills and ways of doing things so we had to adjust but she is very good coach, both of them are good coaches, and we’re moving forward.”

Turner, who is originally from Greensboro and who player her college volleyball at Campbell, said it was a challenge coming in to a team that had largely been recruited by the former coach but the girls in the program made it relatively easy.

“It was a challenge at first, you set a tone and sell a program and you want everyone to buy in,” Turner said. “But we had some very good players coming back and the former coach did a good job of recruiting new talent, and the girls have bought into what we are trying to do.”

Turner is high on Knoerzer’s abilities.

“Meg is the heart of the team, she is a dear,” Turner said. Everyone loves and respects her. She’s awesome and one of the most pleasant kids I’ve been around.

“She is very coachable and has improved tremendously since I’ve been here, and I know she will continue to improve because of her work ethic.”

This will probably be Knoerzer’s last year of competitive volleyball as a player. She plans to stay at Cape Fear in the nursing program before hopefully heading to UNC-Wilmington to complete her four-year degree.

Knoerzer volunteers at the New Hanover Medical Center’s Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit, and that is where she would eventually like to wind up.

“I always wanted to be a nurse since seeing what they do and after seeing how much they care in attending to my mom, it just made me that much more determined,” Meg said.

Coach Turner said, even after her playing eligibility expires, there could be a place for Meg in the program if she chooses.

“I understand she will be continuing her education here and while her eligibility will be up, if she wanted to coach I’d be receptive to having her on the staff.”

Baranowski came to Cape Fear because she felt it was a good fit, and because they offered some help via a partial volleyball scholarship.

“I felt it was a good fit, I felt I wasn’t really ready for a four-year school, and I felt this would be a good place to start,” Jenna said. “At the beginning it felt like it was our freshman year in high school, starting out and not knowing what you were getting yourself into. In high school you had four years to prove what you could do and here you were starting all over again.

“Then we switched coaches and it was weird because it came so close to the beginning of the season, and here we were, starting all over again. Every year you have to work hard because there is always someone in the wings waiting to take your job, but here we were again, having to prove ourselves to another new coach. It was tough.”

Baranowski had an outstanding freshman year but coming into this year she has run into a bit of a medical problem with snapping-hip syndrome, where the tendons on the hip are irritated and swollen. Jenna said it is curable with ice and a lot of stretching exercises, and she is again off to a very good year.

Unlike Knoerzer, Baranowski, who is currently majoring in the arts, wants to continue playing volleyball at a four-year school while majoring in psychology.

“I definitely want to play at the next level and I’m starting the recruiting process again,” Jenna said. “I have already looked into High Point and UNC-Greensboro and I’ve made a list of schools to send E-mails to.”

One of the things that held the hard-hitting Baranowski back was a lack of height that so many bigger schools look for. But Jenna said she has used that as an incentive rather than looking at it as a problem.

“I feel like I’ve used it to my advantage because it made me work harder and made me a better athlete,” Baranowski said. “Of course I’d like to be 6-foot-1 or bigger but when I play I feel like I’m seven-feet tall,”

Turner definitely feels she has a future at the next level.

“She’s great, she’s probably one of the most competitive kids I’ve ever had in a gym,” Turner said. “She brings a lot of fire to the program. She is a coaches’ dream because she works hard and she wants to learn. I definitely think she has the ability to move on, she’s a very good athlete.”

Peterson is a freshman out of Dixon High School, and she is finding the adjustment trying at times.

“I came to Cape Fear because I liked Coach Ali and because it was closer to home and that was a big factor,” Peterson said. “And Coach Turner is awesome. She knows what she is talking about. I had no idea what to expect. I went to camp at UNCW and she was one of the instructors, and she pushes us a lot. She’s already had a huge impact on me and on the program.

“But I have to admit it’s been tough at times. I have missed a lot of practice due to some of my classes and there is so much talent here she (Turner) has a lot of options. It’s a big adjustment going from a player who is on the court all the time to a player that sees limited opportunities but I’m learning and I think I’m getting better, and I know the playing time will come with hard work.”

Peterson is living in an apartment with two roommates, is taking courses in Radiography, and works at Andy’s on Gordon Road part time to help pay the rent. She attends classes from 8:00 a. m. to 3:30 p. m., or sometimes later, goes to practice from 3:30-5:30, and works two or three nights a week. She then gets home, studies, goes to sleep, and starts over again

“It’s a challenge but there are a lot of challenges in life so I look at it as just one step along the way,” Peterson said.

“She is taking Radiography at CFCC and hopefully will be transferring to a bigger school to major in Nuclear Medicine.

“It was something that just jumped out at me,” Peterson said. “I had to do a portfolio in high school and I liked what I saw in the field so I applied to get in the program and I was accepted so I guess it was meant to be.’

Turner like Peterson’s potential and sees a bright future for her in the Sea Devils’ program.

“Kara is full of potential,” Turner said. “We’ve had to kind of break her down a little and rebuild her up. She’s quick and I thing she will develop into a very good player. She has a great upside.

“But she, like so many other athletes making the transition from high school to college, has to realize it’s a huge transition. I hope she understands that and she’s patient because I think she’s going to be a heck of a player.”

All this adds up to a successful past and a bright future for three special young ladies. Just shows you what hard work and determination can do for you.

19th Sep2012

Lady Pirates top Richlands in three easy games

by Lee Wagner

HAMPSTEAD – Okay, now that the easy stuff – and that is not being overly critical of the last three Topsail High School volleyball opponents, it’s more of a tribute to their overall athleticism and superiority over some programs – is out of the way for  the Lady Pirates it’s time to get down to serious business.

Topsail has beaten Clinton (25-16, 25-16, 25-15), Croatan (25-9, 25-21, 25-20), and Richlands (25-8, 25-9, 25-9) in relatively easy fashion because, well, they are drastically better than those three teams.

But starting tomorrow (Thursday) three of the next four games will go a long way to determining who walks away with the East Central 2A Conference championship hardware, and the hope for all the Topsail faithful is those easy games haven’t gone to the girls’ collective heads, and they realize the challenge ahead of them between now and Oct. 2.

Considering the senior leadership on this team, and the fact that Hill Pearsall is at the helm of the ship, it’s good bet they are aware. Now they just have to go out and execute as they have over this last week, and in the first games they played against two of those contenders.

Senior Angie Poage had 18 assists, two kills, six service points, seven digs, and three aces, and classmate Carlie Smith had 10 kills, six service points, four digs, and five aces as Topsail completely dismantled Richlands 3-0 (25-8, 25-9, 25-9) on Tuesday in an East Central 2A Conference volleyball match in Hampstead.

Topsail improved to 11-3 overall and 6-0 in running their conference unbeaten streak to 36 games. Richlands fell to 1-9 overall and 1-5 in the conference.

“Tonight’s game gave us an opportunity to get everyone in the game,” Pearsall said. “It also allowed me to see situational subs, sitting some starters and letting others play different positions, because you never know when an injury may hit and you want to know who can fill a role.

“We didn’t play down against a weaker team which we tend to do so I was happy with that. Also, it was Summer’s (Darnell) birthday and she played extremely well at the serving line.”

Darnell, an 18-year old senior, was outstanding with 20 service points, four kills, five digs, and six aces.

Now the Lady Pirates head into tough country as they travel to Swansboro (5-5, 4-2) for a huge conference match on Thursday and stay on the road for a conference match against Northside (0-11, 0-8) next Tuesday before facing East Duplin (11-1, 5-1) at home on Sept. 27 and heading to Deep Run for a conference match with the Lady Blue Devils of South Lenoir (7-6, 2-2) on Oct. 2

Richlands         8-  9-  9

Topsail            25-25-25

Topsail: Kayla Hyatt 2 points, 1 kill, 1 assist, 4 digs; Sammi Proulx 7 digs; Reagan Holloway 4 kills; Angie Poage 6 points, 2 kills, 18 assists, 7digs, 3 aces; Carlie Smith 6 points, 10 kills, 4 digs, 5 aces; Jenna Register 6 points, 1 assist, 5 aces; Summer Darnell 20 points, 4 kills, 5 digs, 6 aces; Lacey Akerley 6 points, 2 kills.

19th Sep2012

Pender stays on unbeaten path with win over Trask

by Lee Wagner

ROCKY POINT – Pretty much everyone associated with the Pender High School volleyball team was a little worried about Tuesday night’s county and conference encounter with neighboring Trask for a couple of reasons.

While there is an obvious disparity in overall talent and athletic ability between the two teams, the folks surrounding the Lady Patriots’ program saw – in the Lady Titans – a scrappy team that does not quit and that works hard regardless of the opponent, and that type of team can be dangerous.

The second reason was the Lady Patriots were coming off an emotional and huge win over conference contender Lakewood on Thursday and, with all due respect and homage paid to the Lady Titans, they were worried – and aware – about the possibility of a letdown.

Trask did put up the type of fight that has become associated with a Karen-Byrd coached team but, unfortunately for the Lady Titans, there would be no letdown by Pender.

Senior K. B. Hansley had 10 kills – including three in a row in a crucial run in the third game – to go along with two assists, an ace, and seven digs, and classmate Kayvia Thompson had nine kills and five aces as Pender defeated Trask 3-1 (25-11, 18-25, 25-19, 25-10) on Tuesday in a Tri-County 1A Conference volleyball game in Titantown.

The win allows gives Pender (10-4) its 10th overall win of the year, and allows the Lady Patriots to stay atop the conference standings as the only unbeaten (7-0) team in the league. Trask fell to 5-6 overall and 4-3 in the conference.

“We played all right in the first and fourth games but it was tough to get any emotion going coming off the Lakewood game,” said Pender Coach Matt Davis of his team’s 3-0 (25-14, 25-18, 25-23) win over the Lady Leopards. “I probably started substituting too early (in the second game), and that proved to be a bit of a problem because they (Trask) kept fighting and they took advantage of the situation.

“But K. B. came up big for us in a critical moment in the third game and we were able to keep the momentum from there. That’s what she does. When she’s in the game and executing up front and moving around on the back line we’re hard to beat.”

Davis started substituting in the second game mostly because of the relative ease in which his girls won the opening game. Deadlocked at 2-2 the Lady Patriots went on two consecutive five-point spurts followed by a four-pointer to erase the competiveness in that contest by vaulting to a 16-5 lead.

Thompson was the key in the first five-point splurge with four aces, sophomore Brianna Pittman had a pair of kills in the second run, and Ruby Gasca knocked down a pair of big hits in the four-pointer as the Lady Patriots cruised to a 14-pont victory.

Davis chose to sit junior setter Jackie Sanabria (8 assists in first game) in favor of Katy Stewart, and went long periods of time without  Thompson and Hansley on the floor, and as he said, the Lady Titans took advantage.

Senior Anna Brodmerkel was one of the keys to the Lady Titans’ second-game efforts with a kill, two assists, a block, and a dig, and Kassidy Tyer –who was simply tremendous all night on the back line in finishing with 19 digs – helped keep Pender at bay with five digs as Trask emerged from the second game as a seven-point winner.

Sanabria and company were back on the court in the third game but the feisty Lady Titans had some momentum and they kept things close all game long. The game was tied at 7-7, 8-8, and 9-9 before Pender started to pull away. A three-point spurt, highlighted by a big block by Sanabria, gave the Lady Patriots an 11-9 lead, a lead they would never again relinquish.

Pender was leading 14-11 when Hansley provided her team with three-straight kills in opening a 17-11 advantage. Thompson and Alyssa Carter then added assists in another three-pointer, and the Lady Patriots held on from there for a seven-point win.

“Coming from the game against Lakewood to here we realized it was a little easier,” Hansley said. “Lakewood had us energized and we had to get used to a different pace. Then we lost a game and I think we all realized we had to work harder.”

That loss seemed to take a little of the wind out of the scrappy Lady Titans’ sails, and Pender cruised in the third game, jumping out to an early 7-3 lead, increasing it to 13-5 and to 18-7 before an ace by Amber Pyland ended the 15-point win, and the match.

In defeat, Trask Coach Karen Byrd was still buoyed by her girls’ hustle, effort, and determination.

“I can’t say enough about this team,” Byrd said. “They play together and work hard, and that’s all a coach can asked. “They (Pender) are a very good team but I can’t fault the effort from my girls in the match. I am very proud of them.”

Both teams continue play in the conference this week with Pender traveling to Hobbton on Thursday, and Trask also heading on the road for a match at Midway.

Pender defeated Hobbton 3-1 (25-15, 22-25, 25-16, 26-24) at home on Aug. 28, and the Lady Titans beat Midway 3-2 (20-25, 25-14, 25-27, 25-23, 15-11) in a five-game thriller in Titantown, also on Aug. 28.

Pender            25-18-25-25

Trask              11-25-19-10

Pender: Kayvia Thompson 9 kills, 5 assists; K. B. Hansley 10 kills, 2 assists, 1 ace, 7 digs; Brianna Pittman 5 kills, 7 blocks; Jackie Sanabria 29 assists, 3 kills, 2 aces, 12 block; Ruby Gasca 2 kills, 3 aces, 4 digs; Brenee’ Jones 3 kills, 1 dig; Cassidy Miller 1 kill, 3 digs; Meghan Cleary 1 dig; Katy Stewart 5 assists, 1 kill; Alyssa Carter 9 kills, 1 block, 2 digs; Amber Pyland 1 assist, 1 dig, 1 kill; J. T. Taylor 2 aces; Alysa Bryant 1 dig.

Trask: Quaneisha James 4 kills, 1 ace, 6 digs; Kaitlin Andreassen 2 kills, 1 block,  ace, 4 digs; Anna Brodmerkel 3 kills, 7 assists, 12 block, 6 digs; Kassidy Tyer 1 kill, 19 digs; Becca Alvis 5 digs, 2 assists; Chrishonda Brown 6 digs, 1 ace; Rachel Wilson 3 digs, 2 kills; Kyli Huff 1 dig.

18th Sep2012

Titans fall 22-19 to Midway on late TD

by Lee Wagner

ROCKY POINT – Trask High School interim head football Coach Bill Mercier will be one of the first to admit it’s been a tough and emotional week for everyone involved in both athletics and in the other happenings in Titantown and, despite a herculean effort, it didn’t get any better this past Friday night when the Titans fell to 0-4 in this young season with a loss in their opening game in the Tri-County 1AConference.

And while there are really no such things as moral victories in my opinion I think – despite the final score – this one can go down as morale win.

Running back Dalen Faison rushed for 76 yards on 17 carries (a 4.5 per-carry average) and D. J. Love returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown but it was not enough as a late score by Raider Cody Brown accounted for the winning points as Midway escaped Rocky Point with a22-19 win over Trask on Friday.

The win dropped the Titans to 0-4 overall and 0-1 in the conference but the result does not rightfully honor the effort of the Titan players just three days after it was discovered they were going to be without their head Coach Glenn Sellers, who was forced to step down for the remainder of the year due to health reasons.

“It has obviously been a tough and emotional week when you lose your leader in the middle of the week while preparing for a game,” said long-time Titan assistant and now interim head coach Bill Mercier. “We played well and we scored in all three phases of the game, offense, defense, and special teams. The kids played hard and considering all that has happened this past week I couldn’t be more proud of them and the effort.

“I told them after the game it was my first loss as a head coach and I wouldn’t have wanted it to come with anyone other than them.”

It actually turned out to be the beginning and the end of the game that truly did the Titans in. Midway’s Aaron Thurman took the opening kickoff in a steady rain and returned it 80 yards to the Trask 11-yard line. Thurman then punctuated the opening drive with a six-yard scoring run and Jansen Wrench’s extra-point kick gave Midway a 7-0 lead with just 44 seconds gone off the game clock .

That lasted exactly one play as Titan D. J. Love Lane took the ensuing kickoff and covered 90 yards of his own in bringing Trask to within one at 7-6. A two-point conversion run by Jakita Lane put the Titans on top at 8-7, and there were still 11:03 remaining in the first quarter.

Kemodrick James helped Trask increase the lead to 10-7 with 2:06 left in that first stanza when he tackled Raiders’ quarterback Calcutt in the end zone for a safety. That lead held up until the 6:23 second mark of the second period when Calcutt connected with wide receiver Troy Spell on fourth-and-13 for a 19-yard gain that gave the Raiders a first-and-goal at the Titans’ two-yard stripe. Cody Baker gave his team the lead with a two-yard run and Wrench made it 14-10 in Midway’s favor with 6:23 remaining in the first half.

A fumble in the end zone let to another Titan safety with 16 ticks left on the first-half clock, and the Titans went into halftime on the short end of a 14-12 score.

Trask took advantage of a Raiders’ mistake to go ahead early in the fourth quarter. Trask’s Matt Sherman hit on a 25-yard field goal for a 15-14 Titans’ lead but the Raiders were assessed a roughing-the-kicker penalty, and Johnson made them pay when he slipped into the end zone on a one-yard plunge with10:04 left in the fourth-quarter clock. Sherman’s kick made it 19-14, Trask.

On the next Midway possession the Raiders marched 63 yards down the field, utilizing about five minutes off the clock, before scoring with 5:45 left in the game on fourth quarter on a two-yard run by Baker.

The Riders’ defense prevented any further damage the rest of the way.

“We’re just going to go back to work and get ready for Lakewood,” Mercier said. “Now that the shock has worn off a bit we’ll just work on the things we need to so we can get better.”

That Lakewood game is in Titantown this Friday beginning at 7:30 pm.

Midway            7-7-0-8=22

Trask              10-2-0-7=19

First Quarter

Midway – Aaron Thurman 2 run (Jansen Wrench kick), 11:16

Trask – D. J.Love 90 kickoff return (Jakita Lane run), 11:03

Trask – Safety, Kemodrick James tackled Taylor Calcutt in end zone, 2:06

Second Quarter

Midway – Cody Baker 2 run (Jansen Wrench kick), 6:23

Trask – Safety, fumble recovered by Midway in end zone, 0:16

Fourth Quarter

Trask – Larry Johnson 1 run (Matt Sherman kick), 10:04

Midway – Cody Baker 2 run (Taylor Calcutt run), 5:45

Individual Statistics: Rushing – Trask: Dalen Faison 17-76, Larry Johnson 11-17, Quan Brown 10-43, Jakita Lane 7-38, Rakeus Graham 7-35, Ruben Chavez 1-3. Midway – Aaron Thurman 15-143, Cody Baker 15-60, Taylor Calcutt 7-43. Passing – Trask: Larry Johnson 1-7-32. Receiving: Trask – Dalen Faison 1-7. Defense – Trask: Arthur Brown 6 tackles; Ethan Bishof 1 tackle; Joseph Rodriquez 1 tackle; Dakota McFadden 1 tackle; Austin Richardson 9 tckles, 1 sack; Larry Johnson 3 tackles; D. J. Love 6 tackles; Kemodrick James 5 tackles, 1 sack; Rakeus Graham 2 tackles; Ruben Chavez 2 tackles; Jordan Davis 4 tackles; Allen Lee 4 tackles; Brandon Gardner 2 tackles; Sam McFee 2 tackles. Midway – Luke Clark 15 tackles; Atlantis Warren 7 tackles.

17th Sep2012

Nobody Asked Me But…Titans show they are more
than just football players

by Lee Wagner

HAMPSTEAD – Nobody asked me, but………..When you look at the North Carolina high school scoreboard after Friday’s football games you will see that the Trask High School football team lost 22-19 to Midway in their opening game in the Tri-County 1A Conference.

A lot of people will simply sit back and say, Oh, well, Trask lost another one,” as the Titans dropped to 0-4 on the season, and as their recent past will tell you winning hasn’t come easy for the them.

Dating back to 2004 – which is as far back as NCPreps takes me – the Titans are a combined 31-67 with their last winning season coming in 23004 when they went 6-5. They went 6-8 in 2009, advancing to the third round of the NCHSAA 1A state playoffs before falling 49-20 to East Bladen, so it would be easy to brush off Friday’s game as just another loss.

That said, and while I do not necessarily believe in “moral victories,” I think this loss can go into the books in Titantown as a “Morale” win – a game that further helped a group of teenagers move closer to the maturity that accompanies adulthood, and isn’t that what high school is suppose to be about – preparing young people for the realities of life while educating them well enough to find a positive place in society.

Let’s go back To Tuesday when this group found out that their beloved and respected head coach – Glenn Sellers – had to step down for medical reasons.

Wins and losses aside, Sellers is not only a very good football coach but a man who came up through the Pender County school system (at Pender High School), and who has certainly experienced the ups-and-downs of life in his football coaching career.

Above that, Sellers is one of those people I refer to as an “Educator,” rather than just a teacher. For those of you who might have missed my dissertation on that – in my opinion – in education as well as in other walks of life – there are people who do what they do, and they do it well because they care, and there are people who do what they do simply for a paycheck.

So the players find out they have lost their coach and they are already 0-3 so why not just fold the tent and go through the motions and finish the year.

Because people like Bill Mercier and the other coaches in the Titan program, along with folks ranging from athletics director Ed Gilroy all the way up to principal Dr. Steve Sullivan have taught them that’s not the way to get things done, to succeed.

“It’s obviously been a tough week, you lose your coach in the middle of preparing for a game,” said Mercier who is the head coach of the Trask track team, now the interim head football coach, and who has been an assistant to Sellers dating back to their time together at Pender.”But it was not as bad as it could have been because I have worked for a long time with Glenn and with the kids as an assistant. It’s probably been a bit harder on the coaches than the kids. We are all close to Glenn.

“After the game I told the kids it was my first loss as a head coach but I wouldn’t have wanted it to come with anyone else but them. This is an amazing group of young men, and they went out there and worked their butts off. We had our chances but we sometimes didn’t take advantage of them, and that’s going to happen regardless of anything else. What they showed me and the other coaches tonight is a no-quit attitude. They played hard and they worked hard and I know they’ll come out on Monday and work hard in getting ready for Lakewood. It just goes to show you what this bunch is made of.”

And that, despite the score last Friday and because of the leadership of the administration, teachers, and coaches – and yes, Coach Sellers – they are winners.

Way to go, Titans, and keep up the good work!

That’s what I think, what do you think?

Nobody asked me but………Thanks for your efforts guys but it’s time for the substitute referees in the National Football League to go back to the level of play that is more attune to their abilities, and it’s time for the NFL and the official’s union to stop dickering over dollars and make some sense.

I watched several NFL games yesterday (Sunday) thanks to my subscription to the NFL package on Direct TV and I came away shaking my head.

Let’s start with the game between my Eagles and the Baltimore Ravens. There were several calls – and non-calls – in that game that were really upsetting, I am sure, on both sides of the ball.

Starting at the end when the Ravens (thankfully, remember I’m an Eagles’ fan) had what appeared to be a game-clinching touchdown called back because of offensive pass interference. The announcers, after watching reviews of the play over-and-over again, agreed with the call and so did I. But I am sure the Ravens felt there was sufficient contact there to warrant a pass-interference call on the defense, too.

But there were two two-minute warnings erroneously awarded at the end of the game, and there were several other calls –namely roughing the quarterback – that were, shall we say, overlooked, and we’ll get into that in a minute.

Then I watched portions of the games between Washington and St. Louis, Dallas and Seattle (thank you Russell Wilson), and Detroit and San Francisco, and I saw what I thought were missed calls, several non-calls, and logistical mistakes such as where to place the football.

I am sure these guys are doing the best they can but the realization is the game is simply too fast for many of them. The games, whatever ever the sport, increase in speed and intensity from the high-school level to the collegiate level, and to the professional level, and these guys just appear to be a step behind, or as the old cliché’ goes, “A day late and a dollar short.”

A friend of mine, Bob Brookover, with whom I worked at the Courier-Post for years in Southern New Jersey, and who now writes for the Phildelphia Inquirer, wrote in an article about how the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell constantly talk about safety and integrity in the game, and then he lets amateurs – Brookie’s word, not mine – “police the games.” He said it is like, “Asking unarmed mall cops to enforce martial law.”

Brookover always did have a remarkably good way with words, and in this instance he is right. Coaches and players are warned, and threatened with fines if they berate the officiating, so most of them are circumventing the issue with masked statements like the one from Raven’s Coach Jim Harbaugh when he said, “The challenge is for us is figuring out what constitutes what. What constitutes illegal contact and pass interference, and I’m not really sure.”

Right! This guy played quarterback in the league, was a respected and talented assistant coach, and is proving to be a very good head coach, and HE needs to figure it out.

I think the powers that be in both the league and in the officials’ union need to figure it out. Are the regular guys perfect, heck no, but they are better than what we’ve been seeing and it’s time to make the move.

That’s what I think, what do you think?

Nobody asked me but…….Back to roughing the quarterback. As a fan of the Eagles and a fan who appreciates the scrambling ability of guys like Michael Vick (Eagles), Robert Griffin !!! (Washington), and Cam Newton (Carolina) I am honestly beginning to believe there is a double standard when it comes to making the roughing the quarterback call in the league.

If some of the many – yes, many – late hits suffered by Vick in the first two games of the year were perpetrated against quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Aaron Rogers, Tom Brady, or several of the other “elite pocket” quarterbacks in the league those yellow flags would be flying all over the place.

But because guys like Vick, Griffin, Newton, and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger have that scrambling ability I don’t think the officials make the call the way it should be made, and I think one of those “scramblers” are going to get seriously hurt one day on one of those non-calls.

It’s time to enforce the saying, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

That’s what I think, what do you think?

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