inside: - Carolina Weekly Newspapers

charlottepulse.com

inside: - Carolina Weekly Newspapers

inside:CW’s Preseason Top 10Team-by-team previewsBig Men on CampusFull season schedulesThe 2008 season A to Z


2 Fall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly www.thecharlotteweekly.com


Charlotte’s 2008 season fromais for Aikens. Harding University quarterbackWalt Aikens might be the mostelectric player in the city. In fact, hecould be good enough to lead the Hawks intothe playoffs for the second consecutive season.bis for Bands. Just because the teams go intothe locker rooms at halftime doesn’t meanthe on-the-field action has stopped. Not inMecklenburg County. There are some awesomemarching bands here, with West Charlottegetting our nod as the best around. The MarchingLions are “all that,” as the kids would say. Eventheir Web site, www.thewestcharlotteband.com,makes you want to boogie when you visit.Other strong bands include Harding University,Charlotte Catholic and Independence. And theyhave a sleeper over at Phillip O. Berry Academy.cis for Coaching Changes. There areseven new head men in Charlotte thisseason: Johmar Barrington (HardingUniversity), Dan Devine (Hickory Grove Baptist),Aaron Brand (West Charlotte), BrentsonBuckner (Northside Christian), Bruce Hardin(Providence Day), Mark Harman (West Mecklenburg)and Quentin Hines (Waddell). That’sa lot of turnover – new systems, different philosophies.And we’re surprised the kids wantto change schools so much?dis for Duke University. Yeah, we know –Duke’s a college team. (Right?) But getused to hearing the name around theseparts. New Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffehas made Charlotte a recruiting priority.Unlike years past, most of the top collegeprospects in the city have offers from Duke onthe table. At least two of them, Charlotte Latin’sRoss Cockrell and Victory Christian’s JustinFox, already have accepted those offers.eis for Eligibility. Will this remain a hotbuttontopic during the 2008 season?Players aren’t going to ever stop wantingto play for the most successful programs.But with the issue coming in the spotlight lastyear, no teams should be pulled off their busesthe day of the playoffs this season.fis for Food, as in from the concession stand.Yep, this is completely and shamelessly selfserving.The best concession-stand food,hands down, is at Independence. It’s likea family reunion every Friday over there.Those folks have the perfect combination ofhomemade food and items from the big chains.Nobody beats the Patriots’ concession stand.Unless, of course, someone wants to step up tothe plate and put us to the taste test.gis for Garinger. Writeit down: The 57-game,on-the-field losingstreak will end thisyear. Second-year coachChris Carter has infusedpride and responsibility intothe program.his for Highlight Shows. Charlotte footballplayers might be the luckiest in the countrybecause they have four great Friday nighthighlight shows: WBTV’s “Football FridayNight,” WSOC’s “High School FootballExtra,” WCNC’s “Friday Night Blitz” and News14 Carolina’s “Friday Night Final.” Within threehours of the end of their games, Charlotte footballplayers and teams have been toasted on the airlike professionals on ESPN. That’s cool.iis for Injuries. It’s the other four-letterword in Charlotte football (along with eligibility).A number of teams have depthconcerns, and one key injury to a playercould ruin plenty of teams’ seasons thisyear. Here’s to a healthy season.jis for Just try and tell us Charlotte highschool football isn’t the best in the state.Look, there are several teams that shouldbe part of state championship equations atthe end of this season. Look for Independence(4AA) and Charlotte Catholic (3AA) to be inthe hunt, as usual. And the last time a Charlotteteam didn’t win the Division I privateschoolchampionship was 2000, when RaleighRavenscroft beat Charlotte Country Day.kis for Kickers. The times they are a changin’.College recruiters don’t just pay attention torunning backs and linebackers anymore. InCharlotte, kickers have scholarship potential.Just check out Charlotte Christian’s WilKamin, Providence Day’s Evin Tilson, CharlotteCatholic’s Mike McLendon and Independence’sRobbie Ward. We predict a game-winner or twofrom these guys this season.lis for Legends. The Queen City is home tothree legitimate coaching legends in CharlotteCatholic’s Jim Oddo, Independence’sTom Knotts and Providence Day’s Bruce Hardin.Charlotte Latin’s Larry McNulty, the manwho’s won the last three Division I privateschoolchampionships, isn’t far behind.mis for Mallard Creek. The secondyearschool is primed for a huge2008. Head coach Mike Palmierihas put together a solid foundation, anchoredby defensive back Josh Hunter and quarterbackMarquise Williams. Will it be enough toland his team in the playoffs?nis for Names. In Charlotte,there are some prettysweet ones. Tops on the listare East Mecklenburg linebackerRock Stone and Garinger’s MaceoTanks. Throw in Ardrey Kell defensiveend Prince Shembo and WestCharlotte’s Scoot Simmons (pictured),and ESPN’s Chris Bermanwould have a field day.ois for Offense. They say defense winschampionships. Well, offense getsfans and media excited. The highest-scoringteams this year will be Independence, SouthMecklenburg, Charlotte Christian, CharlotteCatholic and Charlotte Country Day. Are yousurprised that each is in our Preseason Top10, with only 10th-ranked Country Day outsidethe top five?pis for Penalties. We beg the folks atthe state high school association tono longer penalize players for doingthings like pointing to the sky or prayingafter they score touchdowns. It’s onlyanother “p” word: Passion.qis for Quentin Hines, Waddell’s first-yearcoach moved here from Maryland with afine track record – and in early August,he had about 18 players on the team.He deserves better. You’re in our thoughts,coach.ris for Rivalries. They’re what make football inany city special, and Charlotte is blessed. Thebest rivalry games this season? Charlotte CountryDay at Charlotte Catholic (Sept. 5), Independenceat West Charlotte (Sept. 12), CharlotteLatin at Charlotte Catholic (Sept. 12), Charlotte CountryDay vs. Charlotte Latin (at Memorial Stadium onHalloween night), Hopewell at North Mecklenburg(Nov. 7) and Independence vs. Butler (at MemorialStadium son Nov. 7).is for Southwestern 4A conference. It’sstill the best in the state. And with theemergence of teams like Ardrey Kell andSouth Mecklenburg, it should be evenstronger than before.tis for Transfers. Players are changing schoolslike crazy. Some took place because of the newfocus on eligibility, others simply because playerswanted fresh starts. South Mecklenburgmight have two of the most intriguing transfersin running back Larry Kennedy (Providence Day) andquarterback Cody Keith (Myers Park).uis for Underclassmen. The seniors are talented,but watch for the young bucks tostep to the forefront this year. At NorthsideChristian, freshman Chris Caton willplay several positions – well. Everyoneknows about West Charlotte sophomore runningback Jalen “Scoot” Simmons, who newcoach Aaron Brand calls a cross between Butlerlegend Ryan Houston and former West Charlotte/Independencestar Rod Chisholm. Andwait until you see Independence sophomorerunning back Nyjee Fleming.vis for Victory – as in Victory Christian.The Kings are loaded again this year, butcan they finally reach the next level ofsuccess: a state championship?wis for West Charlotte. Despitethe fact they had to forfeittheir 2007 season, the Lionsre-emerged as a preeminent program.Can new head coach AaronBrand keep the roar restored?xis for eXcrement on Garinger’s field. OK,so we cheated a little bit, but here’s thepoint: They need to find a way to keepthe geese off the field at Garinger. They hadto move one game last year because the fieldwas, well, unusable – for a game anyway.yis for Youth. And we’renot just talking about theplayers. West Mecklenburghead coach MarkHarman is 28 years old,and Hickory Grove Baptist’szDan Devine is 31.is for Zico. Zico Pasut(pictured), Ardrey Kell’stight end, should emergeas the top prospect in the cityat his position. The likes of VirginiaTech, West Virginia andDuke already have come calling,so remember the name. It’snot easy to forget.4 Fall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly www.thecharlotteweekly.com


Ardrey Kell KnightsPosting a 10-3 record and makingthe program’s first trip to the playoffs,Ardrey Kell was perhaps the city’s mostimproved team last year. Given thatthe Knights return several starters, thebalance of power could shift towardsouth Charlotte in 2008.“I think we can build off (last)season,” Ardrey Kell head coach MartyWoolbright said. “The excitement ishigher because the kids are excitedabout having success last year. I thinkthe kids understand that hard workpays off.”OFFENSEThe Knights will continue to runthe Spread, but one detail remains inquestion.“The biggest thing is, we need tofind a triggerman,” Woolbright said ofthe team’s need for a quarterback.Senior Derek Ham will battle sophomoreDrew Alexander and utilitysenior Anthony Cestrone for time inthe pocket.On the ground, Woolbright will relyon seniors Travis Burrell and AlexRoyster to carry the load. Both sawsignificant time last season. Shouldthey falter, sophomore receiver JustusPickett has the ability to run the ball.Tim Steadman/CW photoArdrey Kell coach Marty Woolbright hopes to do morecelebrating during 2008, his third season at the school.Third-year starting tackle MichaelHoward, a senior, will anchor the line.He’ll be joined by juniors Faris El-Ali,Drew Ferkol, Chris Thompson andAaron Barton. Senior Zico Pasut, whohas emerged as one of the state’s toptight end prospects, should help onthe line as well.The team’s leading receiver, SeanGary, returns and will be joined byCestrone, Pickett, junior Carl Millerand senior John Politis in stretchingthe field.football night in charlotteDEFENSEThe Knights have experiencereturning to their 4-3 set, starting onthe line. Junior end Prince Shemboand senior tackle Kevon Cooper leadthe way, while senior Brendan Gloverhas been impressive at the other end.Expect to see senior Dylan Morgan andjunior Justin Moulin make key contributionsas well.Royster and Alex Petske return atlinebacker, with Royster being asked tofollow-up last season’s All-Conferenceperformance.If he doesn’t move to the open linebackerposition, senior Zach Straderwill headline a secondary long onexperience. Strader, a third-yearstarting safety, and fellow senior JonathanJoseph could join juniors JordonNevseta, Connor Hower, Ryan Phillipsand Tracy Murden to form a strongsecondary.SPECIAL TEAMSMurden resumes his kicking dutiesfrom a year ago. Should he fall victimto injuries, as he did last season,Cestrone could step in. Cestroneshined in relief in 2007.Pickett and Gary will return kicksin 2008 and both offer game-breakingspeed and abilities.— Aaron GarciaFAST FACTSHead coach: Marty Woolbright,third season (11-12), 34th overallReturning starters:Offense, 8; defense, 7Conference: Southwestern 4A2007 Record: 10-3, 5-22008 SCHEDULEAug. 22 ................ at Mallard CreekSept. 5 ........................... at OlympicSept. 12 ............... West MecklenburgSept. 19 ........................ Porter RidgeSept. 26 ............................. at ButlerOct. 3 ....................East MecklenburgOct. 10 ...................at IndependenceOct. 17 ....................... at Myers ParkOct. 24 ...........................ProvidenceOct. 31 ............ at South MecklenburgNov. 7 ......................... WeddingtonMark your calendar for the 2nd AnnualHeart of a Champion DaySaturday, May 30, 2009Levine Children’s Hospital thanks all of our volunteers,sponsors and parents for making the first annualHeart of a Champion Day a success for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools high school student-athletes.We wish our champions a safe and heart healthy season!www.levinechildrenshospital.orgwww.thecharlotteweekly.comFall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly5


football night in charlotteBerry CardinalsThe Cardinals are looking to “shockthe world” this season. A good placeto start would be surpassing theirtwo-win total from 2007.Second-year Berry head coachAndrew Howard has gotten theincreased player participation he needsto make strides this season, eventhough the team graduated almost halfits players from last year.OFFENSEThe Cardinals will have some continuityas they employ the same Spreadand Pro-Set offensive, which shouldhelp ease the loss of 22 seniors.At quarterback, Howard is lookingfor a few young men to step up andgrasp the offense. Former linebackerQuincy Ekechuk is only a sophomoreand hasn’t played quarterback, buthe’s competing for the starting job thisyear. Ekechuk will be pushed by fellowsophomore Kenny Patterson.Senior James Hicks returns atrunning back, but he has somecompetition in last year’s juniorvarsity standout Gavin Gordon, whohas shown Howard he’s worthy ofgetting carries. But Hicks and Gordonwill only be as effective as their lineBerry looks to make strides in 2008.Wade Nash/CW photoallows. Marcus Medley, Derrick Keyand Marcus Harris all return, butHoward will need some former JVplayers to step in and provide muchneededdepth up front.Senior Lemar Richardson andsophomore Elijah Williams will bethe featured receivers in Howard’sSpread attack, with Hicks and Gordonproviding options if moved out wide.The starting tight end job still is up forgrabs, but Brian Mays has looked goodduring spring and summer workouts.DEFENSEThe Cardinals will use a basic 4-3defense this season, and Howardsaid he wants his team to stick to thebasics. As a former linebacker in theCanadian Football League, the coachknows what he’s looking for.The defensive front will be anchoredby Sherrod Long, who can double asa linebacker. Expect to see Mays, Key,Harris and Medley on the line as well.Sophomore Donovan Clinton isexpected to make an impact at linebackerand should be able to movearound to all three positions. He willbe joined by Elijah Richardson at theposition, but Howard is looking forone more player to fill the unit.The secondary will be led by sophomorecornerback Major Miller andsafety Hicks. Howard should haveno problem inserting speed into thedefense and was expected to moveplayers around before the end ofpreseason camp to find the rightcombination.SPECIAL TEAMSHicks will return to provide the legin the kicking game – if Howard can’tfind someone else to handle the duties,that is. Gordon will have the responsibilityof providing good field positionas the team’s main kick returner.— Aaron GarciaFAST FACTSHead coach: Andrew Howard,second season, (2-9)Returning starters:Offense, 4; defense, 4Conference: Queen City 3A/4A2007 Record: 2-9, 2-42008 SCHEDULEAug. 22 ..........at North MecklenburgAug. 29............................HopewellSept. 5.......................Mallard CreekSept. 12 ..............................at ButlerSept. 19 ...................... Davie CountyOct. 3 .............. at West MecklenburgOct. 10 ...........................GarringerOct. 17 ..........................at WaddellOct. 24.................Harding UniversityOct. 31...........................at OlympicNov. 7 ..................Charlotte CatholicCENTRAL PIEDMONT COMMUNITY COLLEGEGet readyfor your future!Central Piedmont Community College is a great firstchoice! You save money when you earn college creditsand complete general course requirements at CPCC.You’ll enjoy small class sizes, state-of-the-art classroomtechnology, and quality instructors who care.CPCC serves more than 70,000 people with over100 innovative and effective degree, diploma andcertificate programs including corporate andcontinuing education.Wherever you’re going, CPCC helps youGet There.www.cpcc.edu704.330.CPCC6 Fall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly www.thecharlotteweekly.com


www.thecharlotteweekly.comFall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly7


football night in charlotteButler BulldogsThe great news for Butler coachMike Newsome is that his Bulldogsbroke through last season and defeatedarchrival Independence during theregular season, claiming a share of theSouthwestern 4A conference title.The bad news?Most of the key players from thatsquad are gone – 14 who will playcollege football this fall, to be exact.So why in the world was Newsomesmiling after preseason practices?“We’re not going to change ourexpectations,” he said. “We’re going todemand the same from our kids – andexpect the same.“Overall, we’ve got a good group ofButler junior running back Markel Moore gets thechance to carry a bigger load for the Bulldogs thisseason. John Dykstra/CW photokids. We’ve got some kids comingback who are extremely talented butjust don’t have a whole lot of experience.We’ve had so many guys whohave been starting for three years. It’simportant for us to gain experience inthe preseason, the scrimmage gamesand the nonconference games so wecan be ready to play in this toughconference.”OFFENSEIt’s safe to say no one is feelingsorry for Newsome, especially sincehe returns an offensive line even headmits is “really, really good.” Theunit is led by tackle Tyler Kell and tightend DeShaun McCutcheon.Newsome believes the Bulldogs’running game will surprise people. Hesaid junior Markel Moore should havegotten more carries last season. Thisyear, the young man will get themwhile sharing time with power runnerHawatha Bell, who also is the team’sstar linebacker.The Bulldogs have a major task inreplacing record-setting quarterbackJacob Charest, now at the University ofIllinois. In preseason camp, junior JayHitselberger and sophomore ChristianLeMay were having a fierce competitionfor the starting job. Hitselbergerled last year’s junior varsity team to anundefeated record, while LeMay wasthe 2007 starter at Porter Ridge High inUnion County.Whoever wins the job has a reliablereceiver in Nate Charest, Jacob’syounger brother, who Newsome said“is going to be a special talent for us.”DEFENSEThis unit all starts with Bell, thehighly recruited linebacker. He’llhave help in the midfield, though,with Jacob Davis, Jacob Haynes andnewcomer Alex Polofski, a top prospectwho started on varsity as a sophomorein football-rich Atlanta last year.Up front, Eric Connor, AlanteTuppins and McCutcheon are expectedto be outright pillars.How do the Bulldogs replace theloss of defensive backs Spencer Adams(Clemson), Robert Blanton (NotreDame) and Eddie Whitley (VirginiaTech)? Well, they probably won’t. Butdefensive coordinator Steve Shaughnessylikes his 2008 group led bytalented Marcel Sargent, who willbe joined at cornerback by AnthonyMcGill. Craig Ray and Tyler Bullockshould see time at safety.SPECIAL TEAMSSenior Matt Cornelius, a collegeprospect, will handle punting duties.Soccer player Kyle Searles returns tohandle the placekicking, while VaughnBandy will take care of kickoffs.Anthony Short will be one of the topreturn men.— C. Jemal HortonFAST FACTSHead coach: Mike Newsome,sixth season (48-17)Returning starters:Offense, 4; defense, 3Conference: Southwestern 4A2007 record: 10-3, 6-12008 SCHEDULEAug. 29 ..............North MecklenburgSept. 5................... ...........at VanceSept. 12.................................BerrySept. 19.................at West CharlotteSept. 26........................ Ardrey KellOct. 3.............................ProvidenceOct. 10........................at Myers ParkOct. 17.................. East MecklenburgOct. 24............ at South MecklenburgOct. 31........................ WeddingtonNov. 7........................IndependenceCharlotte Catholic CougarsFor longtime Charlotte Catholic headcoach Jim Oddo, there are no excuses.It doesn’t matter that the Cougarshave completely revamped theirheralded backfield after the departureof stalwart running backs Wes Stringfield,R.J. Sweeney and quarterbackChristian Culicerto.Senior classes are like shark teeth atCatholic: When one falls out, there arerows of replacements waiting – waitingfor their shot to chew up the competition.“We say, ‘Just keep the tradition,’”explained Oddo.OFFENSEDespite the key player losses, theCougars seem ready to carry on theirtradition of running the ball usingOddo’s “Multi-Wing Wing-T.” SeniorJoseph Felts should put up majoryards this season at fullback aftercoming on strong late last season.He’ll be complemented by – and willcomplement – two halfbacks: speedback Jadarius Bruce and a platoon ofother players, including senior JohnnyO’Boyle and junior Angelo Acitelli.Junior quarterback Danny Reyes willbe asked to orchestrate the offense.The only player on the line whoRunning back Joseph Feltsis expected to make severaltrips to the end zone forCharlotte Catholic thisseason. Tim Steadman/CW photoisn’t a senior isNick White, theCougars’ juniorcenter. He will beflanked by guardsAdam Guess andGerald Rimmer.Griffith Shapackwill line up atleft tackle and bejoined by PatrickHutson on theother side.The Cougarshave a number ofreceiving threatsthis year, startingwith tight endTucker Windle.The University ofVirginia signeeprovides a bigtarget and runswell, which will give the young Reyesa nice safety valve. O’Boyle, Bruce andjunior tight end Ryan Gibbons shouldget their yards as well.DEFENSEThe defense will show a variety offronts, placing as many as six playersat the line of scrimmage. Senior MarkMoll will take the lead at nose guard,while senior Andrew Muller, Guess,Rummel, Acitelli and senior end NickGatto all will share duties.Windle provides security at linebacker,blending speed and power thatshould make inside runs difficult. He’llbe joined by fellow senior Ben Hebert.There’s no shortage of players availableto line up in the secondary. Expectto see juniors Matt Sawyer and MattTomsho at cornerback, along withThomas Deschenes. All three spenttime on junior varsity last season, soexpect O’Boyle to provide leadershipin the back, especially early.SPECIAL TEAMSThe Cougars will be set on specialteams. Senior Mike McLendon is animpressive kicker and should be oneof the top in the state this season.“He’s an unbelievable punter,” Oddosaid. “He gets a four-second hang timeevery time.”Oddo’s still looking for the rightmixture of players in the return game,but don’t be surprised to see Felts,Bruce, O’Boyle or Josh Campbell allon the job.— Aaron GarciaFAST FACTSHead coach: Jim Oddo, 35th seasonReturning starters:Offense, 2; defense, 5Conference: Queen City 3A/4A2007 Record: 13-3, 6-02008 SCHEDULEAug. 22 .......... at South MecklenburgAug. 29....................... at Myers ParkSept. 5............ Charlotte Country DaySept. 12..................... Charlotte LatinSept. 19.................. at North GastonSept. 26.............................OlympicOct. 3............................ at WaddellOct. 17.................Harding UniversityOct. 24........... at West MecklenburgOct. 31........... at South MecklenburgNov. 7..................at Berry Academy8 Fall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly www.thecharlotteweekly.com


Last year, Charlotte Christiansurprised a number of people whenit went 10-3 and stormed to the statetitle game.But this year, the Knights don’t havethe luxury of the element of surprise.Everyone expects them to be good.Are the Knights, who have six playersfrom last year’s squad on college rostersthis fall, ready for prime time?“It is going to be a different situationfor our kids because last year wedidn’t have any preseason hype,” saidsecond-year coach Jason Estep, whoseteam ranks third in CW’s PreseasonTop 10.“I think we overcame a lot of thingsand really put ourselves out there to beable to compete with any team on ourschedule last year. The thing now is tonot let those kids get content with howwell somebody projects us to do; wehave to prepare to play every night.”Although the Knights lost somequality players, they return their quarterback,senior Luke Bard, and juniorrunning backs Ty Linton and ParkerBlazevich. Bard already has scholarshipoffers from Air Force, Liberty andWestern Carolina – plus a baseballoffer from Georgia Tech.Linton has the ability to move outto receiver. But he doesn’t have tobecause the Knights have talent anddepth there, too. The list of collegesthat have offered senior tight end WillisHall scholarships includes Duke, AirForce, Ohio University, Elon, WesternCarolina and Liberty. If Hall gets toomuch attention from defenses, JonathanMiller, Mike Adams and Justinfootball night in charlotteCharlotte Christian KnightsCharlotte Christian junior Ty Linton is a lethal threat onboth sides of the ball. John Dykstra/CW photoOFFENSEParker are more than capable.Right tackle Zach Cook and centerZach Orsino return to the line. They’llbe joined by right guard Kelby Brownand 6-foot-5, 180-pound left guardJudson Hall, Willis’ “little” brother.Brice Moore, Nolan Shue and SammyFulginiti will see playing time.DEFENSELook for middle linebacker MichaelRichardson to be a leader, along withLinton, who’s already getting attentionfrom ACC schools for his defense.The Hall brothers are on the ends,with Cook, Fulginiti, Shue and Mooreat tackle.Top newcomers include sophomoreMyers Park transfer Sam Deucyk atend and linebacker, and Matt Hall, thedefensive 2007 MVP of the JV squad.In the secondary, only Parker sawtime last year, but Miller, Blazevich,Joe Borrelli, Jake Watson and D.J.Faris can make plays.SPECIAL TEAMSWil Kamin was 40-for-40 on PATslast year, so the job’s his. Miller andParker are the main return men.— C. Jemal HortonFAST FACTSHead coach: Jason Estep,second season (10-3)Returning starters:Offense, 6; defense, 4Conference: Charlotte IndependentSchools Athletic Association2007 record: 10-3, 2-12008 SCHEDULEAug. 22............. Mount Zion ChristianAug. 29.................. Augusta ChristianSept. 5.............Westminster CatawbaSept. 12..................at Asheville HighSept. 26............................ Jireh PrepOct. 3.........................Charlotte LatinOct. 10.............. at Northern GuilfordOct. 17........at Charlotte Country DayOct. 24...........................RavenscroftOct. 31................. at Providence Daywww.thecharlotteweekly.comFall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly9


football night in charlotteCharlotte Country Day BucsWith 12 starters back from a teamthat posted a 9-3 record and overcamerampant injuries well enough to reachthe state semifinals last year, privateschoolfootball fans were expectinggreat things from Charlotte CountryDay in 2008.So what does Bucs coach BobWitman do?He comes up with one of the mostdaunting schedules any N.C. IndependentAthletic Association team willhave this season.The Bucs’ schedule includesMichael Watterson will fill many roles for CharlotteCountry Day. John Dykstra/CW photomatchups with N.C. 3A public schoolMarvin Ridge; 3A state runner-up andrival Charlotte Catholic; reigning WestVirginia Class AA state championBluefield High; and college-prospectladenVictory Christian.All this before the Bucs even beginheated play in the Charlotte IndependentSchools Athletic Association.“We’re always excited for a newseason, but one thing I’ve been tellingour boys is that we have, without adoubt, the strongest schedule we’veever had at Charlotte Country Day,”Witman said.“We have a considerable amount ofreturning players, but we’re particularlyshort at certain positions, especiallyon the interior line. It should beinteresting.”OFFENSESenior quarterback Hedley Jenningsreturns to head the Bucs’ normally efficientoffense. Running back MichaelWatterson is athletically gifted, andhe’ll carry the load on the groundwhile junior Chris Shembo recoversfrom a preseason camp injury.The wide receivers are sound. Sixfoot,170-pound senior Nick Kamererwill provide leadership, while juniorsMiles Boardman and Tate Bloomer tryto take off. Bloomer played quarterbacklast year after moving up from thejunior varsity but has shown promiseat his new position.Senior John Benson is a 6-2,270-pound All-State selection who willbe joined by 6-3, 230-pound seniorAaron Arant and 5-10, 230-poundguard Sam Salvato along the line.Several players will see time on bothsides of the ball.DEFENSEEnd Kip Haddock, who had 33tackles last year, is as tough as theycome. He has great support behindhim, thanks to the linebacker corps,which is paced by Jack Carroll (72tackles last season), Vic Showalter(67), Watterson (55) and Hill Hamrick(43).Ladd Hamrick is expected to have astrong season at safety.SPECIAL TEAMSThe versatile Jennings will handlepunting duties. Two players, BenRhyne and Luke Lovett, will battle forthe kicking responsibilities, but thecompetition won’t hit full steam untilLovett returns from an injury.The athletic Bloomer could be theearly leader in the race to find anoption on punt and kick returns.— C. Jemal HortonFAST FACTSHead coach: Bob Witman, 19th season(163-43)Returning starters: Offense, 6;defense, 6Conference: Charlotte IndependentSchools Athletic Association2007 record: 9-3, 1-22008 SCHEDULEAug. 22............. Mount Zion ChristianAug. 29.................. Augusta ChristianSept. 5.............Westminster CatawbaSept. 12..................at Asheville HighSept. 26............................ Jireh PrepOct. 3.........................Charlotte LatinOct. 10.............. at Northern GuilfordOct. 17........at Charlotte Country DayOct. 24...........................RavenscroftOct. 31................. at Providence DayA ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME EXPERIENCE. EVERY DAY.Visit the science lab.Learn French and Spanish.Perform in a play.Something new every dayADMISSIONS OPEN HOUSESDIVERSITY: OCTOBER 1, 7 P.M.JK/K: OCTOBER 14 & 21, 7 P.M.RSVP (704) 943-4500Charlotte Country Day School1440 Carmel Road Charlotte, NC 28226 (704) 943-4530Grades JK–12 / Tuition assistance available.www.charlottecountryday.org10 Fall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly www.thecharlotteweekly.com


Now, more than ever,an education you can have faith inis important for your child.Day Care - 12th Grade xcellent Academics f ronment the Art Facilitieswith a 140 Acre Campus333 Jeremiah Blvd.Charlotte, NC 28262Located of r 43www.ncaknights.com704.599.9015CCHS!Go Cougars!Holy Trinity Catholic Middle School (Grades 6-8)3100 Park Road, CharlotteOur Lady of the Assumption Catholic School (Grades PK-5)4225 Shamrock Drive, CharlotteSaint Ann Catholic School (Grades TK-5)600 Hillside Avenue, CharlotteSaint Gabriel Catholic School (Grades K-5)3028 Providence Road, CharlotteSaint Matthew Catholic School (Grades TK-5)11525 Elm Lane, CharlotteSaint Patrick Catholic School (Grades K-5)1125 Buchanan Street, CharlotteSaint Mark Catholic School (Grades K-8)14750 Stumptown Road, HuntersvilleMecklenburg Area Catholic Schools wish Charlotte CatholicHigh School Best of Luck in the 2008-2009 Football SeasonRestoring faith in educationFor further information, call admissions at 704-370-3273.www.charlottediocese.org/macswww.thecharlotteweekly.comFall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly11


football night in charlotteCharlotte Latin HawksDating back to the 2006 season,Charlotte Latin has won 16 straightgames and own the last three N.C.Independent School Athletic Associationstate championships. But thisyear offers the Hawks challenges theyhaven’t dealt with in quite some time.Gone is a group of seniors thatoutscored opponents 581-152, andhead coach Larry McNulty knowshe’ll have to employ patience whilehis new team finds its rhythm.“We’ve got our work cut out forus,” said McNulty. “We want to keepthis program at a level of success thatwe’re used to having.”OFFENSEThe biggest holes will be on offense.Returning is wide receiver Ross Cockrell,a senior speedster who hascommitted to Duke. But for the Hawks’potent Spread Offense to be effective,Cockrell will need help, starting at thequarterback position. Senior DavidPearson is the leading candidate totake the job, but he’ll be pushed bysophomore Sam Spence and freshmanXander Maddox.McNulty said his team will “strive forbalance” on offense, and the runningback tandem of senior Carter Barnhartand sophomore Jalen Ross, bothKicker SamMyers,32, will beone of thestrengths ofthe 2008CharlotteLatinfootballteam.JohnDykstra/CW photomembers of Latin’s state champion4x100-meter track relay team, will haveto shoulder the load on the ground.On the line, senior guard TravisWetteroff is the only returningstarter, and the other four spots arewide open. Senior Andrew Gibsonseems to be the favorite to man theall-important center position in Latin’sshotgun formation.Joining Cockrell at receiver will bea pair of seniors: Tayler Sipperly andFreddie Sherrill. Sipperly saw someaction last season, despite the Hawks’talented receiving corps that includedAll-State player Brenton Bersin, now atWofford College.DEFENSESize will be an issue on defense aswell, but the defensive front might begood enough to overcome it. JuniorNick Sella offers a run-stuffing presenceon the line, and he’s expected toreceive plenty of help from Barnhartand junior Archie McIntosh.Providence Day junior transfer ChaseCarbone was the lone player to solidifya spot at linebacker as preseason campwound down, but six players werecompeting for the other two spots.Cockrell, the 2007 Charlotte WeeklyDefensive Player of the Year, will beback at cornerback. He’ll be joined bySherill and Maddox to defend the pass.Although there doesn’t appear to bea lot of experience at safety, the unitshould be strong with Sipperly andjunior Paul Paschal.SPECIAL TEAMSSam Myers returns as the Hawks’kicker and punter, and McNultycouldn’t be happier.“I’m very excited about my kicker,”said McNulty. “He has really improvedthis summer.”Kick and punt returns should alsobe a bright spot for the Hawks as theyhave no shortage of team speed. Cockrell,Maddox and Sherrill all shouldfactor in the return game.— Aaron GarciaFAST FACTSHead coach: Larry McNulty, 22nd year(361-64)Returning starters:Offense, 2; defense, 4Conference: Charlotte IndependentSchools Athletic Association2007 record: 13-0, 3-0 (NCISAA statechampions)2008 SCHEDULEAug. 29......................... East GastonSept. 5........................ Raleigh TitansSept. 12.............at Charlotte CatholicSept. 19............ First Presbyterian DaySept. 26............... at Victory ChristianOct. 3............... at Charlotte ChristianOct. 10.....................Providence DayOct. 17........at Christ Church EpiscopalOct. 24............................. CarrboroOct. 31..................... at Country Day12 Fall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly www.thecharlotteweekly.com


www.thecharlotteweekly.comFall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly13


After years ofplanning, CharlotteLatin cornerback/widereceiver Ross Cockrellwill fulfill his dreamof playing major-collegefootball. Tim Steadman/CW photoThe ThinkerLatin’s Cockrell excels by following his heart – and his mindby C. Jemal Hortonjemal@thecharlotteweekly.comOf all the places in the world to havea football epiphany, Ross Cockrell’stook place in an IHOP.Cockrell remembers being “about 11or 12 years old,” when a then-youngCarolina Panthers kick returner/widereceiver named Steve Smith walkedinto the restaurant. Fans beganswarming Smith for autographs, andhe took time to acknowledge eachone.“He was with his family, but hewas taking time to appease the fans,”recalled the still-wide-eyed Cockrell,now a senior at Charlotte LatinSchool.“I loved the fact that he did that.Right then and there, I said, ‘I wantthat to happen to me. I want to be likethat.’ I just knew I wanted to be a footballplayer.”Since then, Cockrell has beenuncommonly driven to make his gridirongoal a reality.In the ensuing years, despite beingslightly undersized, he did everythinghe could to increase his strength to hithard with the big boys. And havinginherited the gift of speed from hisfather, he made certain he always wasthe fastest of the players his size.Last season, scores of people tooknotice.In his first season as a varsity player,Cockrell intercepted 11 passes fromhis cornerback position, taking fiveof them back for touchdowns – manyof them were of the “Wow!” variety,featuring runs that took him from oneside of the field to the other to eludewould-be tacklers.As a wide receiver, he caught 37passes for 693 yards – an average of18.3 yards per catch – and scored sixtouchdowns as talent-laden CharlotteLatin won its third consecutive statetitle.The attention from big-time collegeswas slow to come at first. But by thespring, things definitely had changed.Cockrell’s hard work and CharlotteLatin coach Larry McNulty’s insistencethat recruiters not ignore his versatileplayer’s talents paid off.“It was basically overnight,” Cockrellsaid. “I was talking to Coach Mac oneday, and he was telling me a couplecoaches were interested in me. Thenext thing I know, I was getting pulledout of class once or twice a weekby coaches from all over the place –Virginia, Duke, Yale, Western Carolina,Liberty. It was a lot of fun.”Duke, the Atlantic Coast Conferenceschool trying to get a fresh start withnewly hired coach David Cutcliffe, wasthe first to make Cockrell an officialoffer. He was thrilled, and it was hardfor him not to accept on the spot. Butafter talking with his father, McNultyand Charlotte Latin defensive coordinatorJustin Hardin, Cockrell decidedto let the recruiting process run itscourse.The next several months were a blur.More recruiting letters poured in beforethe end of the school year. Then,over the summer, Cockrell attendedfour college camps: Michigan, Illinois,Virginia and Duke. He acquittedhimself well at each one.“Michigan was a large camp,” hesaid. “It was great to be out there withthe best of the best. They had a lot oftheir recruits there. It was just great togo out there and show what I could doagainst them.“The first day, I worked at receiver;the second day, I was at cornerback. Ifelt pretty good.”Virginia and Liberty eventuallyjoined Duke as schools to offerCockrell scholarships. But by late July,Michigan and Illinois had not; eachschool said it wanted to see him playthe first game of his senior year, andCockrell was content with that.Then, another epiphany.In early August, Cockrell sat downand reevaluated things. His goal wasto play in a highly respected footballconference, and two schools offeringscholarships played in the ACC.Having parentswith Ivy Leaguepedigrees, Cockrellhad alwaysmade academicsNamea high priority inLandon Adamshis life, and oneWalt Aikensof the schoolsJames Hickswas regarded asTravis Ingrama Southern IvyLarry KennedyLeague school.Ty LintonCockrell wentDamon Magazuon and made hisLawrence Martinchoice: Duke.Scoot Simmons“At the endTucker Windleof the day, I based my decision onacademics and the level of trust Ihad in the coaching staff,” Cockrellsaid. “And no school beats Duke’sacademics. Duke football is on therise, and I think I’ll have the best ofboth worlds.”It says a lot that Cockrell decidednot to wait for an offer from Michigan.He was born in Detroit and grew up aWolverines fan.The family moved frequently duringCockrell’s childhood because of dadKieth’s career with Bank of America.Cockrell, who attended middle schoolat Charlotte Latin, even lived insuburban Washington, D.C., for a yearas a ninth-grader. When the Cockrellsmoved back to Charlotte, Ross beggedhis parents to let him finish high schoolat Latin because he felt it would givehim the best chance of getting into aprestigious college – with or withoutfootball.(more on page 34)Other Top Playmakers to Watch in 2008SchoolHickory Grove BaptistHarding UniversityBerryVanceSouth MecklenburgCharlotte ChristianProvidenceIndependenceWest CharlotteCharlotte Catholic14 Fall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly www.thecharlotteweekly.com


The afterglow of tying for first placein the Southwestern 4A conference lastseason was dampened in July whenEast Mecklenburg learned it had toforfeit the campaign and suspend headcoach Greg Hill because of a recruitingscandal.That, though, hasn’t kept the playersfrom maintaining their focus on thefield and in the weight room.“The kids’ work ethic is showingthrough,” said assistant head coachJason Fowler, who is filling in for Hillduring the five-week suspension.“The kids have wrapped their armsaround everything we’re doing andembraced it. They’ve really workedhard, and we’re proud of them.”Quarterback Olen Little came onstrong last season after missing the firstmonth with a broken foot. He appearsprimed to pick up right where he leftoff in 2007. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounderhas a strong arm. And because of hisintelligence, Fowler said, Little has thefreedom to change any play sent fromthe sidelines.Fortunately, he has one of the strongestand deepest receiving corps inthe city, led by two-time All-Conferencechoice NickBratton. Therealso is senior TheoJones, juniorsBrandon Andersonand Anthony Goreand sophomoreQuan McCleary,who Fowler calls“a very specialplayer” and “aburner.”Although theteam lost 1,000-yard rusher MikeMayhew to graduation,it gainedtalented sophomoreRonald Howard, a transfer fromDade County, Fla. Despite being just5-5 and weighing 150 pounds, Howardbench presses 260 pounds.“And he brought some of that southFlorida speed with him, too,” Fowlersaid.The offensive line has one returningstarter in junior tackle Devin Moore,who is switching from guard.This most likely will be the strengthof the team, and it will be carried byfootball night in charlotteEast Mecklenburg EaglesOFFENSEEast Mecklenburg’s Olen Little could emerge as one of thecity’s top quarterbacks this season. Wade Nash/CW photoDEFENSEthe secondary,which returnsfour startersin seniors TimSanders, TreySanders, SterlingSmith andJamario Sinclair.Trey Sanders wasan All-Conferencechoice at safetylast year, whilethe other safety,Sinclair, led theleague with seveninterceptions.Junior RockStone, an All-Conference nose guard in 2007, movesto linebacker this season, and he’ll bejoined by Mike Grannum.The defensive line returns twostarters, senior tackle Kyell Collins andjunior end Jay Mozee. Senior DonnieAiken will man the other end.SPECIAL TEAMSTim Sanders fuels the return game.He’s so good at it that colleges havebeen eyeing him as a return specialist.Soccer player David Costello will stepin to replace graduated All-Conferenceselection Mike Davis as the kicker.— C. Jemal HortonFAST FACTSHead coach: Greg Hill,fifth season (29-20)Returning starters:Offense, 5; defense, 7Conference: Southwestern 4A2007 record: 0-13, 0-72008 SCHEDULEAug. 22..............................WaddellAug. 29..................... West CharlotteSept. 5................. West MecklenburgSept. 12.........................at GaringerSept. 26...............South MecklenburgOct. 3.............................Ardrey KellOct. 10.........................WeddingtonOct. 17........................... .....at ButlerOct. 24........................... Myers ParkOct. 31................... at IndependenceNov. 7........................ at ProvidenceGaringer WildcatsThe slogan on the back of Garingerhead coach Chris Carter’s T- shirt saysit all: “Building a New Nation.”“We’re starting from the ground up,”said Carter, who believes his team’swinless streak is still alive and strong,despite the fact that the Wildcats weregiven three wins by forfeit last yearbecause of eligibility issues.“We’re building new ideas, conceptsand ways of thinking here,” saidCarter.By the way: The on-the-field winlessstreak is up to 57 games.OFFENSECarter will run a lot of “I” formationthis year, but he might show somelooks in the Spread Offense as well. Afour-year starter at several positions,Marquez Stanley has emerged as athreat at quarterback and should leadthe offense this year.On the ground, Carter is still lookingfor someone to step into the featuredrunning back role. Junior MauriceBetha is among the frontrunners andwill be pushed by Malik Keyes, a sophomore.The Wildcats just might have thebest line they’ve assembled in years,starting with juniors Chris Moore, atackle, and Enis Siloguvich, a center.Alex Brown holds down one of theguard spots, while Quinn Holloway,Garinger hopes to end a 57-game winless streak.Wade Nash/CW photoSergio Luvetea and Cullen McNeil willcompete for the last two openings.The wide receiving corps will be ledby four seniors: Chris Anderson, NigelSelossa, Emmanuel Munn and TravisWalker. DeShaun Grier has moved fromdefensive back to flanker. Look forfirst-year tight end Thomas Gooden tomake an immediate impact. Andersonand Selossa both are taller than 6 foot3, while Walker offers blazing speed.DEFENSEOffensive production will berendered moot if the defense allowsalmost 400 points, as it did last year.Carter’s 4-4 and 4-3 defensiveschemes will be led by a young line.West Charlotte transfer DemetriusHaskins will start at end, while seniorLarry Williams will man the interior.The city’s best name goes to sophomoreMaceo Tanks, who will line up atthe other tackle spot, flanked by seniorendS Quante DeQuorium and AmarioJackson. Willams and Tanks are theonly returning players on the line.The linebacking corps will consistentirely of new faces in 2008. EastMecklenburg senior transfer AveryBarksdale will join juniors KareemGoodman and Joseph Taylor there.Carter still is piecing together themost effective combination of playersin the secondary. Walker, CarltonRussell and Keyes certainly will be inthe mix, although it’s unclear whichposition each will play.SPECIAL TEAMSSiloguvich, the Wildcats’ startingcenter, returns to handle kicking dutiesin 2008. Siloguvich has nice rangeon punts, averaging between 35 and40 yards per try. Carter also believesSiloguvich’s range on field goals canstretch to 40 yards, which shouldhelp notch much-needed points as theseason goes on.Carter also is blessed with a surplusof athletes willing – and able – toreturn kicks, although it remains to beseen who will be the most effective inthis capacity.— Aaron GarciaFAST FACTSHead coach: Chris Carter,second season, (3-8)Returning starters:Offense, 3; defense, 3Conference: Queen City 3A/4A2007 Record: 3-8, 0-62008 SCHEDULEAug. 22....................... at Myers ParkAug. 29................................. VanceSept. 12.................East MecklenburgSept. 19...........at North MecklenburgSept. 26............... West MecklenburgOct. 3........................... at HopewellOct. 10.................................at BerryOct. 17..............at Charlotte CatholicOct. 24.............................. OlympicOct. 31........................... at HardingNov. 7...............................Waddellwww.thecharlotteweekly.comFall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly15


The MaestroWith Jennings orchestrating offense,anything’s possible for BucsBecause of his versatility, Charlotte Country Day’s Hedley Jennings is one of the city’s bestquarterbacks. Tim Steadman/CW photoOther Top Quarterbacks to Watch in 2008NameSchoolStuart AhlumWalt AikensJustin AveryLuke BardJosh ByrumAnthony CarrothersTravis IngramOlen LittleDayne PickettMarquise WilliamsMyers ParkHarding UniversityHopewellCharlotte ChristianVictory ChristianIndependenceVanceEast MecklenburgHickory GroveMallard Creekby C. Jemal Hortonjemal@thecharlotteweekly.comHedley Jennings didn’t need an officialdiagnosis from the doctors – he knew hisclavicle was broken.Minutes earlier, he’d been finishing aplay he ran countless times last season, hisfirst as the starting quarterback on CharlotteCountry Day’s varsity team: runninga sweep with big ole tackle John Bensonleading the way.Jennings stiff-armed Charlotte Christiandefensive back Brandon Robinson. AsRobinson fell, he grabbed Jennings’ feet,and the quarterback went down with all his190 pounds on his left shoulder.“When I hit, I thought, ‘Dang! That reallyhurts!’” Jennings recalled. “But I knew Ihad to get back to the huddle for the nextplay. But on the next play, I couldn’t movemy arm.”Jennings trotted to the sidelines, hunchedover in pain, so trainers Monica Erb andStephanie Miller could take a look. No officialword came. Later, team physician DonD’Alessandro examined Jennings, and he,too, didn’t give a diagnosis.But Jennings already knew his fate.“Dr. D’Alessandro and the others knewmy clavicle was broken, but they didn’t tellme,” Jennings said with a smile. “Wheneverthey don’t tell you, you know it’s bad.”It was really bad, actually.The Bucs already had lost several startersbefore Jennings went down, but they alsohad managed to battle to a 7-0 record andposition themselves for another state championshiprun. With Jennings suddenly outfor the season, the road got a lot morecomplicated.After the loss to Charlotte Christian in agame the Bucs were winning 14-3 in thefirst half, two different underclassmen,Justin Avery and Tate Bloomer, wound upstarting at quarterback over the Bucs’ lastthree games; they lost two of them.The consummate team player, Jenningsrefuses to say his injury was the reason theBucs didn’t go on to a title. “I don’t look atit that way,” he said. “We’re a team, and alot of other guys had gotten hurt last year.”But now that he’s healthy and back forhis senior season – and, yes, more determinedthan ever – people know much ofthe Bucs’ hope for another strong seasonrests on Jennings’ sturdy shoulders.“He means a lot to us,” Charlotte CountryDay coach Bob Witman said. “He’s anoutstanding athlete. He’s fearless. He’sexplosive, and he does a lot for us.“Besides quarterback, he also punts for usand can play defense. He could also be ourreturn guy, but we’re trying to figure outwhen we can get him off the field. With ourschedule, though, I don’t know how that’sgoing to work.”Jennings is one of the top dual-threatquarterbacks in the city. In less than eightgames of action last year, he completed 72of 126 passes (57 percent) for 881 yards andeight touchdowns. He also rushed for 567yards and a team-leading 10 touchdowns.Jennings’ running ability might have kepthim from getting as much attention as otherCharlotte quarterbacks, but several collegeshave thought enough of his passing abilityto give him a look. This summer, Jenningscompeted at the University of South Carolinacamp led by head coach and quarterbackguru Steve Spurrier. Jennings also wasinvited to camps at Wofford College andPrinceton University.He gained valuable experience and confidencewith each stop.“At South Carolina, there were a lot ofreally tall guys who could throw it as wellas I could,” said the 6-foot Jennings. “I feltthings went well, but I didn’t get to runthe 40 and show my speed. We did pocketpresencedrills.“At Wofford, I felt things went really well.When I’m around other people who canplay, it makes me raise my level of play. Ifelt like I was on fire at Wofford. I was in agroove, just having fun. I threw really well.I got invited back down.”Jennings also has received interest fromsmaller schools such as Middlebury Collegein Vermont, Amherst College in Massachusettsand Colby College in Maine. Whileplaying for a major program would be nice,Jennings simply wants to be on the field.“I’d just like to play football in college,”he said. “I don’t want to just sit around andbe a frat boy.”He laughs.“Yeah, that’d be fun, but I want to beactive,” he said. “I want to be motivated.”He’s definitely motivated to lead the Bucsto their first N.C. Independent SchoolsAthletic Association title since 2004.Jennings has attended Charlotte CountryDay since first grade. He grew up watchingthe Bucs fortify a winning tradition. Whilehe didn’t always envision himself one dayleading the Bucs, he has been called to thatrole this season.“Years ago, I was young and didn’t thinkabout responsibility, but now I do,” he said.“I try to be here at the school as much asI can, be it passing after practice or justworking out.“All the seniors are leaders on this team,but being the quarterback is added pressure.But I like it. I’ve known a lot of theseguys since first grade, because a lot of us arelifers. We’re all really close, and that’s whywe play well together. Each of us knows theother guy isn’t going to give up on a play,because we’re here for each other.“I don’t think I’m the leader of the team,but I’m definitely one of the leaders. So Ireally want to finish the season on the fieldwith my teammates.” q16 Fall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly www.thecharlotteweekly.com


football night in charlotteHarding University HawksFirst-year Harding University coachJohmar Barrington winces a little whenhe tells a reporter that his team’s 2007record was 8-4.In actuality, only six of those winscame on the field after both SouthMecklenburg and West Charlotte hadto forfeit their seasons because ofeligibility issues. That said, the Hawksstill made it to the playoffs, and seniorquarterback Walt Aikens thinks thatsimply was a stepping stone.“I really think we can win our(Queen City 3A/4A) conference,” saidAikens.Added offensive tackle MarkusLawrence: “We’ve seen it’s possible.”Does Barrington expect any inflatedegos based on a misleading record?“Not with this team,” the coach saidwith a smile.OFFENSEAikens returns as one of the mostgifted athletes in the city, and heshould put up major numbers, throughthe air and on the ground. Running outof multiple sets, the Hawks often willemploy a power-I, and bruising seniorfullback Jordan Patterson will clear apath for tailbacks Marquette Brownand L.C. McCray.Patterson won’t have to open holesFirst-year Harding University coach JohmarBarrington, front, hopes to get strong play fromtalented players Walt Aikens, left, and MarkusLawrence. Wade Nash/CW photoby himself as the Hawks returnperhaps the best lineman in the cityin the highly recruited Lawrence.Atlantic Coast Conference programDuke University is among the DivisionI schools to offer Lawrence a scholarship.Other than Lawrence, however,the offensive line is inexperienced.“(Lawrence) will become almost acoach by extension when it comes tothe linemen,” said Barrington of thefour-year varsity player.Lawrence will have help, however,at the tight end spot from senior ChrisBridges.The Hawks’ weak spot, at leastearly in preseason camp, was the widereceiver position, where Barringtonsaid he has a “potpourri” of playersvying for the starting nods. But he isunsure which players will step up.DEFENSEOn the other side, the Hawks returnsix starters from last year, and almostevery position includes an experiencedsenior. Barrington will switch between5-2 and 4-3 defensive sets, which willneed strong contributions from seniorlineman Reon Jones and end AmazeLusompa. Barrington said there are ahandful of players looking to step intothe other two or three spots.Marcel Blair returns to start at linebackeras a senior and will be regularlyjoined by Matt Moore.The secondary will feature a host ofnew starters from top to bottom, saidBarrington. Seven or eight players arein the mix for the four spots.“We’re working on that secondary,”said Barrington. “It’s not as solidifiedas the other spots.”SPECIAL TEAMSKevin Fair will have to shoulder theload this season as the punter andkicker, although Barrington notedFair will need to see significant repetitionsin practice to be as effective asthe Hawks will need. McCray andBrown will resume their kickoff returnresponsibilities, with McCray fieldingthe punts.— Aaron GarciaFAST FACTSHead coach: Johmar Barrington, firstseasonReturning starters: Offense, 5;defense, 6Conference: Queen City 3A/4A2007 record: 8-4, 4-22008 SCHEDULEAug. 22..............................WaddellAug. 29..................... West CharlotteSept. 5................. West MecklenburgSept. 12.........................at GaringerSept. 26...............South MecklenburgOct. 3.............................Ardrey KellOct. 10.........................WeddingtonOct. 17........................... .....at ButlerOct. 24........................... Myers ParkOct. 31................... at IndependenceNov. 7........................ at ProvidenceHickory Grove LionsConsidering his name, it’s easy toassume Hickory Grove Baptist’s DanDevine was predestined to becomea football coach. After all, when youshare a name with the man whocoached the University of Notre Dameand the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, whatelse do you do?“Absolutely!” Hickory Grove’sfirst-year mentor said with a laugh.“Some years ago, my dad bought DanDevine’s book. Then I saw that he wasthe bad guy in (the movie) ‘Rudy,’ sothat was tough.“But reading his biography, he was agood coach. That’s what I want to be.I love having this name.”While no one is expecting the31-year-old Devine to instantly winFirst-yearcoach DanDevinelooks tomake aname forhimself andhis teamat HickoryGrove.Wade Nash/CW photochampionships for a team still in itsinfancy as a varsity program, the newcoach hopes it doesn’t take too long.Born in the Bronx, N.Y., Devine spentfour seasons as offensive line coach atHopewell before landing the HickoryGrove job. He helped coach Chris Rustdevelop a winner in Huntersville, andhe doesn’t believe it’s impossible withthe Lions.“I look forward to the challenge,”said Devine, who played along theoffensive line at Chowan Universityin Murfreesboro, N.C., “I’ve set goalsfor myself and the team. I’m definitelyliving the dream.”OFFENSEDevine will call the offensive plays,employing the rugged Veer Offense outof the power-I – a drastic change fromthe Lions’ former Spread attack.There’s plenty of talent on offense,starting with senior quarterback DaynePickett, a three-year starter. Juniorrunning back Josh Lewis will “dot theI” in the offense, and senior fullbackColin Pollinger, a Charlotte Christiantransfer, will lead the way.Landon Adams is a superb athleteexpected to lead the receiving corps.He’ll be joined by fellow seniorsPatrick Baker and Seth Phipps.Leaders on the offensive line arejunior guard Ethan Booksh, juniortackle Jordan Hughes and senior tightends C.J. Phipps and Chase Cox.DEFENSEThe Lions will run a base 3-5designed to maximize their athleticability – and defensive coordinatorTodd Alexander has lots of it at hisdisposal.Adams is the team’s leading returningtackler, and (the) senior strong safetyalso makes big plays. Hughes was theteam’s third-leading tackler last year.SPECIAL TEAMSBy now, it’s clear: Adams rarelycomes off the field. He is the Lions’punter and also handles returnswith Marcus Burton. Steven Beard,Chase Cox and Addison Haddad arecompeting for placekicking duties.— C. Jemal HortonFAST FACTSHead coach: Dan Devine,first seasonReturning starters:Offense, 7; defense, 8Conference: Carolina Piedmont 2A/3A2007 record: 4-7, 2-42008 SCHEDULEAug. 22................. at Wake ChristianAug. 29..................... Derita ChristianSept. 5............... N. Raleigh ChristianSept. 12............... at Asheville SchoolSept. 19...............SouthLake ChristianSept. 26..............Forsyth Country DayOct. 3......................at First AssemblyOct. 10............ .at Northside ChristianOct. 24........................ Christ SchoolOct. 31............Westminster Catawbawww.thecharlotteweekly.comFall 2008 • Charlottte Weekly17


The Boy ScoutDedicated McCreary wants to make difference for himself, othersby Aaron Garciaaaron@thecharlotteweekly.comThis summer, Hopewell High School senior centerAl McCreary did something very few of his counterpartsacross the city can claim to have in commonwith him.On July 8, McCreary completed work toward earninghis Eagle Scout. A member of Troop 19 in Huntersville,McCreary had been working on the projectfor the last 10 years.The feeling of accomplishment has made the taskwell worth the considerable effort.“I’ve become a better person because of it,” saidMcCreary. “I try to be (a good example). Being inScouts and being in football – and all the dedicationI try to show for both – is really hard.”As further proof of his dedication, many of thetroop’s camping outings begin on Friday afternoon,but McCreary generally has to wait to leave on thefollowing Saturday morning – because of a littlething called Friday night football.“I’m hoping to be a role model to these kids,”McCreary said. “If they’re going through somethingrough and they’re trying to decide whether to stickwith it or drop out, look at me. I can do it, and socan you.”McCreary’s leadership role isn’t simply based onexperience, he said. He has a title.“I’m currently serving as a junior assistant scoutmaster,”said McCreary. “It’s a role for older boyslike me, so that way we can help show the youngerguys how to do things and give them the knowledgeand different skills that we’ve learned.”Other Top Offensive Linemen toWatch in 2008NameSchoolMichael BoehmJohn BensonKelby BrownJustin CampbellKeith CrowderAdam GuessMichael HowardMarkus LawrenceRyan ThompsonPete WesselmanProvidenceCharlotte Country DayCharlotte ChristianVictory ChristianWest MecklenburgCharlotte CatholicArdrey KellHarding UniversityIndependenceProvidenceSuch skills translate to any facet of life, but especiallyto a Hopewell football team that is replacingthe majority of its starters after posting a schoolrecord11-1 mark.“He’s the only senior on the offensive line,” Titanshead coach Chris Rust said of McCreary. “We’reexpecting a lot as far as leadership this year. He’skind of like the father figure to all the young guysplaying under him.”Scouting isn’t the only brand of camping McCrearytook part in during the offseason, however. Hemade his rounds of the college football camps, witheight stops in the first month-and-a-half of summeralone.“Starting on June 8, the week after school let out,I went to Marshall,” McCreary began. “Then Woffordon the 10th, Georgia Tech on the 14th, (Appalachian)State on the 15th, Gardner-Webb on the 16th,University of Virginia on the 21st, Furman on the23rd, and then I went to Wake Forest on the 13thof July.“I think that’s it.”Although taxing, it’s a necessary evil of sellingyourself as a viable college player, explainedMcCreary.“I think if you don’t go to camps, you have topretty much be a phenomenal athlete to get recognized,”he said.The experience wasn’t all fun, though. At onefootball camp, McCreary was shining on the field.The coaches used his technique and footwork asexamples of how the other campers’ feet shouldlook, and he was even singled out in team meetingsfor his hard work.After the camp, McCreary approached the coachto thank him for the time and to gauge the coach’sinterest in him as a prospect.The result was earth-shattering.“The coach flat out told me, ‘You’re too small toplay here’,” recalled McCreary, who stands 5 feet,11 inches.“It’s a big reality check. Coming from Hopewell, Iwas one of the biggest guys on the team. Going upthere and having them tell me, ‘You’re too small toplay here’ was just unbelievable.”Rust has seen this before and worked withMcCreary to make sure his spirit didn’t take too bigof a hit.“(These players) just have to realize that therecruiting process is what it is,” explained Rust.“There are certain things that colleges look for –certain sizes, certain heights, speeds. You can’t getdown on yourself; you just have to go out there andperform and let things fall where they happen to.“Something good is going to come out of it. Itmight be a little bit longer than he wanted it to be,but in the long run, he’ll get the chance to go somewhereand play.”Considering he has a core GPA of 3.88 and a penchantfor helping others, someone will not just wantMcCreary, they might just be thrilled to get him.Until then, McCreary will control what he can andmake sure he doesn’t leave college recruiters anyexcuse not to take a chance on the kid who isn’t tallenough. qHard-working Hopewell senior center Al McCreary, who also is an Eagle Scout, rarely has time to stay in one place. Tim Steadman/CW photoArdrey Kell junior defensive end Prince Shembo has the confidence to excel at whatever he pursues in life. Tim Steadman/CW photoThe TrendsetterStarting with names, Knights linebacker isn’t afraid to be differentby Aaron Garciaaaron@thecharlotteweekly.comIf it were up to junior defensive end Prince Shembo,the mascot name on his jersey would read somethingentirely different.Not that he would rather play for a differentschool.As an eighth-grader at J.M. Robinson MiddleSchool in south Charlotte, Shembo was chosen totake part in an advisory committee made up of parents,administrators and students who would beinvolved in the school that would eventually becameArdrey Kell High.“Everyone had to turn in votes,” Shembo recalledof the planning meeting. “Personally, I didn’t pickthe Knights. I think I picked the Ballantyne Bucs.”Fast-forward three years and Shembo still is oneof those kids whose opinion matters. Not only is hea stellar student, he has garnered interest from collegerecruiters after a 13-sack performance duringthe 2007 season. Throw in the facts that he alreadystands 6 foot 2 and wears a size 15 shoe, and thoserecruiters hail from schools like Clemson Universityand the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.It can be easy to get stuck on Shembo’s smile andgood nature, but don’t forget he’s a legitimate threaton the football field, said Ardrey Kell head coachMarty Woolbright.“He’s a great kid,” said Woolbright. “He’s alwaysgot a big smile on his face. He’s always hugging onyou and shaking your hand, and he gets along wellwith (his classmates).“But when he puts that helmet on, he’s a differentguy. He’s really intense when he plays, no matterwhat (he’s playing). He changes.”Woolbright went on.“He’s got a lot of potential,” the coach said. “He’s6-2, 220 (and he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds).His biggest thing is that his motor never quitson the field. That’s what everyone likes about him. Hedeveloped early, so you want to make sure he’s nottapping out all that potential too soon. But he’s madebig improvements in the weight room, and he wasalready real strong.”With the amount of attention that’s sure to followthe junior, Woolbright warns that it can be difficultfor a teenager in such a situation to not get aheadof himself. As long as Shembo continues to keep hisintensity up on the field, everything else will work outfor his star, the coach explains.“He knows he’s got to have a big year. He has a lotof people looking at him, and they’re waiting to seehow he does his junior year,” said Woolbright. “I tellhim it’s going to come down to how he’s going tolook on the film while on the field. You can do greatat combines and be fast and stuff, but if you don’t doa good job on that film, that’s what the coaches aregoing to watch. The film doesn’t lie.”Other Top Defensive Linemento Watch in 2008NameSchoolKortne BriggsSylvester CrawfordJustin FoxKip HaddockBrian JohnsonDerek JohnsonDeShaun McCutcheonC.J. MontgomeryCurtis PorterNick SellaIndependenceNorthside ChristianVictory ChristianCharlotte Country DayMyers ParkHopewellButlerWest CharlotteVictory ChristianCharlotte LatinGiven his track record, don’t expect Shembo to fallinto the trap of complacency after experiencing a littlebit of attention. The key, explains Shembo, is to lookat his recruitment the way he looks at everything:with his brain.He has started looking at things with the same judgmentand industriousness that makes him strive tobe an entrepreneur when he grows up. Although heexpects to start receiving scholarship offers on Sept. 1,the first day college teams can do so with high schooljuniors, he plans to take his time and make sure hemakes the right decision.“Things can change,” explained Shembo. “Therecould be a new coaching staff. You have to check outthe people you are going to play with or (who) gotrecruited the year before you or after you. You have tocheck out the environment.”Although his Division I interest mainly has comefrom Atlantic Coast Conference schools, Shembowants to make sure his horizons remain wide enoughto ensure he lands in a good situation.“I’ve been hearing that the (Southeastern Conference)is the strongest, so I’m not going to commituntil I check out two SEC schools,” said Shembo, whoadmits he grew up a University of Notre Dame fan.So even though he might have failed at providingsouth Charlotte’s newest high school with a name,he’s done a pretty good job building his. q18 Fall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly www.thecharlotteweekly.com www.thecharlotteweekly.comFall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly 19


20 Fall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly www.thecharlotteweekly.com


John Dykstra/CW photoHopewell TitansIt would be a bit of a stretch to sayHopewell coach Chris Rust’s cupboardis bare.Yes, the Titans have to replace 15starters. But after their most successfulseason in the program’s young history,Rust thinks pointing to last season’s11-1 record will help transition his newplayers into their starting roles.“They should see what it takes to besuccessful,” said Rust.OFFENSEIn light of H-back Stephen Rust’sdeparture, the Titans will go to asingle-back Spread Offense capitalizingon speedy receivers. CharlotteCountry Day transfer Justin Avery, ajunior, takes the helm at quarterback.Rust is happy with Avery’s potentialbut believes experience will be his bestally.Sophomore junior varsity call-upDeAndre Lewis will carry the rushingload, while several transfers will adddepth.Senior center Al McCreary andjunior guard Jonathan Jones are thelone returning starters in the trenches.Despite the lack of experience, sizewon’t be an issue, said Rust.“It’s probably going to be the biggestoffensive line we’ve ever had,” hesaid.Things have changed for the IndependencePatriots.The team took an emotional hit aftera lengthy eligibility investigation byCharlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Theprogram, once teeming with players, is“down” to about 135 players on varsityand JV.There even are whispers that thePatriots, who fell in the 4AA state titlegame last year, won’t be as dominantthis season as they’ve been in thepast.But things haven’t changed thatmuch at Independence.The Patriotsstill havetalent – andcoach TomKnotts.W h a t ’ smore, Indepe n d e n c emight be playingwith a bitof a chip onits shoulder.“We’ve gota bad taste inwww.thecharlotteweekly.comThe receiving corps might be theTitans’ deepest unit. Junior MichaelHeffner joins seniors Tyler Farrell, DarrenMatthews and Alex Caver, but otherplayers could see time as well.DEFENSEBecause of their size, Rust’s defensewill adapt to a 4-2 scheme this season.Defensive end Derek Johnson, a 2007All-Conference selection, is joined byfellow senior Wes Reber, who transitionedfrom nose guard to the otherend spot.“We’re hoping the two defensiveends will cause some problems becausethey’re very quick and very strong,”said Rust.The two linebacker spots shouldbe a strength, led by seniors HarrisonChristian, an all-conference pick, andWill Privette.Chris Rust has high expectations for histeam in this, his fourth season at thehelm at Hopewell.our mouthsabout (theinvestigation),”Knotts said. “And we do rememberour last loss because it came in thestate championship.“Hopefully, our last loss will be abig motivator. Of course, every year atIndependence, the goal is to win thestate championship. Anything lessthan that is an unsuccessful season.”OFFENSEWade Nash/CW photoKnotts said the offensive leader willbe junior Ryan Thompson, who willplay multiple positions along the offensiveline. He’ll be shoulder-to-shoulderwith senior left guard Steven Wall,senior left tackle Xavier Montague andsenior tight end Sebastian Green.The front line will be critical forjunior quarterback Anthony Carrothers,the second-year starter Knotts expectsto show marked improvement.Lawrence Martin is the featuredreceiver, while Kierre Brown and ChrisFarley also will get passes. The mostballyhooed receiver is 6-foot-6, 208-pound senior Michael Rhynes, whohas become a major recruiting target.He’ll get plenty of work in the red zone– once he recovers from a high anklesprain.Watch out for talented sophomorerunning back Nyjee Fleming, whofootball night in charlotte“We’re putting a lot of emphasison our defense,” said Rust. “(Johnson,Reber, Christian and Privette) aregoing to have to do a lot of work earlyto keep us in games.”Strong safety Christian Rocker,a backup in 2007, will be the lonefamiliar face in the secondary. Juniorcornerbacks James Shipman and CameronHughes both showed promiseduring the summer, but the inexperiencewill put further emphasis on thefront six.SPECIAL TEAMSHeffner returns as one of the best kickersin the city after earning All- Conferenceaccolades in 2007. Not only will Heffnerbe relied upon to give the Titans gooddefensive field position and take pressureoff the young defense, he’ll needto score points with field goals. Unlesssomeone else takes the punting duties,Heffner will chip in there as well.Rust is unsure who will handle kickand punt returns, but he’s been encouragedby Lewis’ speed. Shipman and firstyearplayer Anthony Bynum might contributeas well.“We’ve got some potential and speedto have a pretty good return game,” saidRust.– Aaron GarciaIndependence PatriotsSenior middle linebackerJayme Watson is the leader ofIndependence’s defense thisseason.Knotts said reminds him of formerWest Charlotte star Brian Knuckles.Junior Jaylan Harden, senior HaroldBlythe and senior linebacker TaylorCaldwell also will get carries.DEFENSEKnotts is high on senior middlelinebacker Jayme Watson, anAll- Confer ence choice in 2007. Heshould be even more effective playingbehind senior defensive tackle KortneBriggs, who bench-presses a mindnumbing420 pounds.Senior defensive end Aaron Gloverwill provide energy and toughness,and senior Jerrian Vaughn could be aforce on the other end.Senior cornerback Breon Thorntonis getting looks from major colleges, inpart because of his 4.5 speed.SPECIAL TEAMSKicker Robbie Ward is a threeyearstarter, and should be even betterthis year. Martin and junior KyleGreg will handle most of the returnresponsibilities.– C. Jemal HortonHead coach: Chris Rust, fourth year(21-14)Returning starters: Offense, 3;defense, 4Conference: ME-CA 7 4A2007 record: 11-1, 6-0Head coach: Tom Knotts, eighthyear, 22nd overall (273-58)Returning starters: Offense, 6;defense, 2Conference: Southwestern 4A2007 record: 13-3, 6-1Fall 2008 • Charlotte WeeklyFAST FACTS2008 SCHEDULEAug. 29 ................ at Berry AcademySept. 5..........................Myers ParkSept. 12................... at ProvidenceSept. 19...................... East GastonSept. 26...................West CharlotteOct. 3............................. GaringerOct. 10............. at Central CabarrusOct. 17................. at J.M. RobinsonOct. 24.................... Mallard CreekOct. 31............................... VanceNov. 7........... at North MecklenburgFAST FACTS2008 SCHEDULEAug. 29 ............................. OlympicSept. 6...............at Madison CountySept. 12............... at West CharlotteSept. 19...........................at VanceSept. 26........................Myers ParkOct. 3................South MecklenburgOct. 10......................... Ardrey KellOct. 17......................... ProvidenceOct. 24.......................WeddingtonOct. 31................East MecklenburgNov. 7...... Butler (Memorial Stadium)21


Tim Steadman/CW photoPowerful South Mecklenburg senior fullback Spencer Shuey is firmly in the gaze of opposing players, not to mention major-collegefootball recruiters.The PunisherTough-guy Spencer Shuey epitomizes South Mecklenburg footballby Aaron Garciaaaron@thecharlotteweekly.comIn many ways, Spencer Shuey perfectly embodiesthe South Mecklenburg football team. It’s not justthe fact that he plays the all-important position offullback in head coach James Martin’s vaunted DoubleWing Offense. It’s not even the fact that Shueyhas two S’s in his name, just like his school.At 6 foot 4, 250 pounds, Shuey plays the game ashard-nosed as they come. And loves it.“I’m basically going to be the short-yardage guy,”Shuey said, describing his role on the 2008 SouthMeck team.“(I’ll be playing) short-yardage to ‘power back’ –and every once in a while, they’re going to be slottingme out to wingback to give that extra push. I’llbe the base of the offense, as I like to think of it.”Throw in the fact that he doubles as the team’smiddle linebacker, and maybe the Sabres shouldhave a picture of Shuey on their helmets.“It’s exhausting, but I wouldn’t have it any otherway,” he said with a smile. “I love hitting.”Martin knows the importance of Shuey’s toughguyrole on the team.“It has to be his No. 1 priority,” Martin said whenasked about Shuey’s penchant for providing andreceiving hits.Martin obviously has noticed the fire Shuey playswith, and it reminds him of another guy who waswidely known for his toughness.“I think of Spencer a lot like (NFL Hall of Famefullback) John Riggins,” Martin said. “(Shuey)doesn’t care who’s in front of him; he wants to punishyou, whether he’s (a fullback) blocking you or alinebacker making a tackle. He only knows one gear,and that’s to hurt somebody.”College recruiters have noticed. Judging from thevolume of letters and visitors Shuey has received,there’s a good chance the senior could become theSabres’ first major-college football scholarship recipientin quite some time. The likes of the University ofKentucky, Marshall University and others have takenhigh interest in him.“This spring he got a lot (of recruiting attention),said Martin. “So many colleges were in here. Thissummer, (interest) has tapered off a little bit, but asthe season goes on, it’ll pick up. Kentucky’s offered,Western Carolina, Marshall and Duke have offered.”College coaches will be pleased with more thanhis on-the-field production, said Martin. For a guywho likes to beat opponents into submission withhis shoulder pads, he sure is nice.“He’s a ‘yes sir, no sir’ type,” Martin said of Shuey.“He likes to have fun in the locker room, but he doeswhat we ask in practice, and that’s what I like. Wecould ask him to be a water boy, and he’d do it. Weask him to play a different position becausewe need to get a look at something (anotherteam might be doing that week). He’s veryunselfish when it comes to being on the fieldfor us.”As big and intimidating as Shuey is, whenyou see a group of South Mecklenburg playersstanding together laughing, the fullback/linebacker usually is in the middle of it. Itseems he is approachable enough that theother guys gravitate toward him.“To be able to do what he can athletically,playing both sides of the ball, and to do itwith proficiency, I think that says a lot – andthe kids see that,” Martin said. “They lookup to him.”As much as he likes it, Shuey expects atleast a partial reduction in his Saturdaymorning bruising since Providence Day School transferLarry Kennedy joined the Sabres this season. Theteam has an intimidating backfield with Shuey, Kennedyand Tim Palmer.And more rushing threats means fewer players todefend Shuey.“Last year, no matter where I was or where theball was, I had someone out to get me,” Shuey saidwith a laugh. “I had one or two players out to get meevery single play, so I think that opens up a lot of therest of the field for our wingbacks. If (the defendersare) thinking (about) me every time, we can run thefly with Tim or Larry, and they’re off to the races.They can move. ““I think, as far as our backfield goes, we’re goingto be incredible,” said Shuey. “I don’t think anybodyin the (Southwestern 4A) conference or any otherteam we play will be able to stop us.“Period.” qOther Top Running Backsto Watch in 2008NameJoseph FeltsNyjee FlemingXavier JoplinLarry KennedyTy LintonMarkel MooreTim PalmerScoot SimmonsMichael StatonEric WilliamsSchoolCharlotte CatholicIndependenceNorth MecklenburgSouth MecklenburgCharlotte ChristianButlerSouth MecklenburgWest CharlotteVictory ChristianMyers Park22 Fall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly www.thecharlotteweekly.com


A year ago, Mike Palmieri was so newon the job that he had trouble knowingmany of his players’ last names.Things are much different now.Not only does Palmieri know all hisplayers’ names, he knows each youngman’s strengths, weaknesses andneeds. He has cultivated a winningmind-set, developed college prospects,and many other players in the regionhave been desperate to become Mavericks.Wade Nash/CW photoNo wonder a team that won a singlegame last season has lofty expectationsas the 2008 campaign beckons.“We’re excited,” said Palmieri, whoarrived at Mallard Creek from Florida’sWhile trudging through a difficult seasonmarred by injuries, it’s easy to forgetwhy most people play football in the firstplace: to have fun.Myers Park coach Jim Ruark, a DavidsonCollege alum, has made it a pointto remind his team of that all summer.He even borrowed a page from his almamater’s basketball team“I got this from (Davidson) coach(Bob) McKillop – he talked about theirgoals being (to) have fun and makeprogress,” said Ruark.If the mantra works and the Mustangsstay healthy, expect the team to trot backinto the playoffs this year.Although the Mustangs hardly are aone-trick pony, Ruark’s “pistol” offense,which will feature Spread, single- andH-back looks, largely will rotate aroundsenior Stuart Ahlum, whom Ruark sayshas made the most progress of any quarterbackhe’s seen in the last five to 10years.Senior running back Eric Williams isback to full speed after battling injuriesin 2007 and should be a major factor inthe offense. Fellow senior Tyree Simpson,also a high-level college recruit as adefensive back, will offer a viable optionif necessary.Everglades High School in June 2007.“The kids have been lifting weightsand working out the whole summer,and we’ve seen improvement. All thecoaches are back, we know each other.Last year, we didn’t even use a footballuntil Aug. 1. Now, the kids are readyto compete.”Palmieri doesn’t mince words whendiscussing his sophomore quarterback,Marquise Williams.“Marquise is a monster!” Palmieri said.“He’s grown to (6 feet, 3 inches), 215pounds). He’ll be a lot better this year.“We expect big things from Marquise.He’s got 11 games under his belt, andhe’ll be a leader.”This year, Williams has a strong onetwopunch in the backfield with juniorTaylor Beamon and Victory Christiansenior transfer Edward Cherry sharingcarries. The receiving corps also looksgood, featuring seniors Taylor Sims,Shawn Bullock, Bertrum Dunn andCourtland Patterson, along with juniorRodney Pettis.The offensive line will be paced bytackles Devin Flowers and LangstonMcCay, along with guards Travis Lawsheand Jeff Collins, another VictoryChristian transfer.The line features four seniors: centerYates Marr, guards Elijah Johnson andGreg Medlin, and tackle Robert Nelson.Matt Goode will man the other tackleposition. Hunter Westphal, a 6-foot-6junior, or senior Andy Banks will roundout the line at tight end.The wideouts stand to see some goodaction in Ruark’s offense, and he likeshis weapons. Robert Waterhouse willsee time in the slot, and 6-5 junior BanksJenkins will offer a nice, big target on theother side.Expect the Mustangs to better theirtotal of 311 points allowed in 2007 witha 4-3 scheme that could be effective atfootball night in charlotteMallard Creek MavericksMallard Creek coach Mike Palmieri believes theteam’s second season of play could be special.OFFENSEOFFENSEDEFENSEDEFENSEThe defense boasts linebacker CameronDavis, a first-team member ofthe 2007 All-Conference team. He willbe joined at that position by GeorgeKramer, DeVonte Grant, Myron Grimesand Wesley Lucas, another VictoryChristian transfer.Up front, tackles Tumba Kantu, EthanElyasian and Terrell Holloway lead theway. Stephen Pitts and Terrell Walkerare the ends.In the secondary, highly recruitedJosh Hunter is a bona fide star, whilecornerback Austin Lewis has generatedcollege interest as well. Cayrone Farisand Craig Williams will see time atsafety, along with North Meck transferAnthony Meassier.SPECIAL TEAMSJunior John Tart is the punter andsenior Dominique Harrison is the kicker.But Palmieri, who is special teams coordinator,isn’t just interested in punts andkicks; last year, the Mavericks blockedeight PATs and four punts, including twofor touchdowns.“We’ve got athletes, and we try touse them on special teams,” Palmierisaid.– C. Jemal HortonMyers Park MustangsJohn Dykstra/CW photoSenior quarterback Stuart Ahlum will lead a Myers Parkoffense stocked with potential this season.every level. Senior Brian Johnson willgive offensive tackles fits this seasonwith his speed. The other defensive endposition, along with the two interior linespots, will be occupied by some combinationof seniors Banks and George Haddock,along with junior Justin Chang.Senior Teddy Hawk transitioned fromlinebacker to end to provide depth.Hard-nosed senior Gene Robinson isback at linebacker and will be accompaniedby junior Charlie Shumacher. Theother spot is up for grabs. Elliott Wyattand Butler transfer Chris Durant, bothseniors, are the front-runners.The defensive backfield will consistentirely of seniors in 2008, and all arereturning starters. Ruark calls strongsafety Simpson “probably the best safetyin the state.” Simpson will be joined byfree safety Alex Lang and cornerbacksJaterious Gill and Jeremy Dry.SPECIAL TEAMSFAST FACTSHead coach: Mike Palmieri, secondseason, (1-10)Returning starters: Offense, 5;defense, 4Conference: ME-CA 7 4A2007 record: 1-10, 0-62008 SCHEDULEAug. 22 .......................... Ardrey KellAug. 29... ............Harding UniversitySept. 5.............................. at BerrySept. 12........................Myers ParkSept. 19............. West MecklenburgSept. 26................ at J.M. RobinsonOct. 3...................Central CabarrusOct. 10............................... VanceOct. 17.......... at North MecklenburgOct. 24....................... at HopewellOct. 31....................West CharlotteThe kicking game will be in thecapable hands of Miller Schneider.Although he’s just a sophomore,Schneider got “a lot stronger and better”this summer, Ruark said.The Mustangs have no shortage ofplayers capable of making an impactin the return game. Specifically, lookfor Simpson, Williams, Dry, Waterhouseand sophomore Deonte Wrightto get opportunities.– Aaron GarciaFAST FACTSHead coach: Jim Ruark, sixth year(30-34)Returning starters: Offense, 8;defense, 7Conference: Southwestern 4A2007 record: 4-7, 2-52008 SCHEDULEAug. 22 .............................GaringerAug. 29............... Charlotte CatholicSept. 5........................ at HopewellSept. 12................at Mallard CreekSept. 26................ at IndependenceOct. 3..................... at WeddingtonOct. 10................................ ButlerOct. 17......................... Ardrey KellOct. 24............ at East MecklenburgNov. 7...............South Mecklenburgwww.thecharlotteweekly.comFall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly23


Tim Steadman/CW photoCharlotte Catholic senior tight end Tucker Windle will continue a family tradition by playing football at the University of Virginia.The LegacyHighly recruited Windle leaving state but definitely going homeby Aaron Garciaaaron@thecharlotteweekly.comWhen Charlotte Catholic High School seniorTucker Windle decided to accept a scholarship fromthe University of Virginia this spring, it was hardly asurprise to anyone who knew him.Sure, the other big-time college programs in therunning probably thought they had a legitimate shot,and maybe they did. But they were starting behindthe eight ball.You see, Windle’s dad, Al, was a standout player forthe Cavaliers in the 1970s. For pretty much all his life,the younger Windle had been around UVA football.Between player reunions and parties, Windle hadscores of surrogate fathers with ties to Virginia offeringadvice, picking him up, teasing him and makinghim feel right at home.“Ever since I was born, I remember growing upand watching (former Virginia stars-turned-NFLstandouts) Ronde and Tiki (Barber) play and (currentSeattle Seahawks defensive end) Patrick Kearney,”recalled Windle. “I remember going up for twoor three games a year and going with my dad to thealumni parties.“My dad graduated in ’78, so he’s been gone for awhile. Seeing him interact with his fellow teammates,they’re like brothers. They’d sit for hours and tell stories.Every time I heard that, it made me want to be apart of it even more.”As time went on, Windle himself developed intoone of the top players in the city. His blend of size (6foot 3) and explosive speed for a player his size (4.7seconds in the 40-yard dash) became highly soughtafter by college recruiters. Nearly every major team inthe Southeast showed interest in Windle.Surprisingly, Al was able to show impressiverestraint in influencing his son.“My dad chimed in a little bit,” Tucker explained,“but when the schools started rolling in and offering,he backed off. Certainly, he’s biased about UVA, buthe never expressed that.”Don’t forget about Mom, though.“My mom (Diane) went to Wake Forest University,and those were the last two schools I had it down to,”Tucker said with a laugh. “Both my parents stayedout of my decision and let me do my own thing and(determine) what was right for me. They said, eitherway, I couldn’t do the wrong thing, because they areboth super schools.“And they’re not paying for any of it,” Tucker addedwith a laugh.Despite his fanaticism, Windle approached hiscommitment with measured enthusiasm, at least fora while.“When (Virginia) came and offered, I almost knewthat I wanted to go there right away, but I figured Iowed it to myself to check out other schools and seeif there was anything else out there,” said Windle.“Being coached by Al Groh and seeing howmany linebackers he’s put out in the (NationalFootball) League, that’s something I wantto be a part of.”The reaction from his dad’s friends simplyreinforced he had made the right decision.“When they found out I had been offered,they were e-mailing me and doing everything,telling me to come,” Windle said. “Just seeinghow they turned out, that was somethingI wanted. I wanted to be these guys. It’s hardto explain. It’s been my dream since I wasborn.”Before he arrives in Charlottesville, he hassome work to do. After all, the last time hewas on the field, he had to watch his opponent,Greensboro Dudley, hoist the N.C. 3A statechampionship trophy Windle and his teammates hadworked so hard for last season. That, Windle said,has provided enough motivation heading into the2008 season.“Seeing Dudley hold up that trophy at the endof the game just motivates you so much to have ityourself,” said Windle, who caught 15 passes for 384yards and seven touchdowns in Charlotte Catholic’srun-oriented offense.Windle also registered 54 tackles and four sacks asa linebacker, which made him even more attractive tocollege recruiters.And, of course, choosing to attend Virginia waseasy.But there remains the little detail of Windle decidingagainst his mother’s alma mater.“She said when I play Wake Forest, she’ll be pullingfor Wake in her heart,” explained Windle, smiling.“But when I make a play, she’ll be the loudest one inthe stands.” qOther Top Pass-Catchersto Watch in 2008Name, positionBlair Boler, WRNate Charest, WRBraxton Deaver, WRColin Fadero, TEWillis Hall, TELawrence Martin, WRJohn Osborne, WRZico Pasut, TENigel Selossa, WRHunter Westphal, TESchoolOlympicButlerProvidenceSouth MecklenburgCharlotte ChristianIndependenceVictory ChristianArdrey KellGaringerMyers Park24 Fall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly www.thecharlotteweekly.com


North Mecklenburg coach GlennPadgett doesn’t need to do much tomotivate his young Vikings in 2008 –everyone else seems to be doing thatfor him.Adopting the mantra “Prove themwrong” has been easy since NorthMeck returns only 10 seniors and hasbeen projected by some to finish last inthe ME-CA 7 4A conference.Boasting nearly 100 percent participationin spring and summer workouts,Padgett likes what he sees so far.OFFENSEPadgett has installed a new offense:the one-back, shotgun Spread. BradleyClay, a junior transfer from Concord’sJ.M. Robinson High, is the early leaderfor the starting quarterback position.He will be pushed by underclassmenMichael Irvin and Ben Williams,Xavier Joplin returns as the team’sfeatured running back and will need tomatch or surpass his 2007 rushing totalof more than 1,000 yards. According toPadgett, Joplin has made significantstrides in the weight room and shouldbe even tougher to bring down.Fortunately for the Vikings, twoseniors will provide experience on theline. Blake Hart and Tyler Kratz mightnot have been full-time starters in 2007,but they’ll be critical to the developmentof the young unit. Hart and Kratzshould receive some help from sophomoreAndrew Yost and senior ThomasDeStefano.DEFENSEAnother Robinson transfer, ChrisMoon, will join Jeff Bolstr and JohnBest at receiver.Padgett won’t alter the defense in2008; instead, he’ll stick with the 3-5football night in charlotteNorth Mecklenburg VikingsJohn Dykstra/CW photoRunning back Xavier Joplin will be relied upon to carrythe load for North Mecklenburg this season.scheme. Junior free safety DonshayJoyce will be paramount to the defenseas he tries to surpass his 2007 total ofsix interceptions. Sean Barnes will manthe other safety spot, and Padgett islooking to fill out his cornerback positionas the season draws near.The secondary should receive a boostfrom the defensive line. Senior JohnMcDermott will line up at nose guardand be flanked by sophomore KentrilWashington and senior Andrew Bowker,who will double as a linebacker.Joining Bowker in the defensive midfieldwill be Cameron Joe on the strongside and junior Stephen Wells.SPECIAL TEAMSThe kicking game will be the team’sbright spot until the offense finds itsflow. Kicker Clark Sechrest has lookedimpressive and can handle all theduties. Padgett says Sechrest punts wellbeyond 40 yards and kicks the ball intothe end zone more than 75 percent ofthe time on kickoffs.Return duties will be handled by somecombination of Joyce, Moon and Joplin.– Aaron GarciaFAST FACTSHead coach: Glenn Padgett, 10th season,67-54Returning starters: Offense, 1;defense, 1Conference: ME-CA 7 4A2007 Record: 6-6, 4-22008 SCHEDULEAug. 22 ..................................BerryAug. 29.............................at ButlerSept. 5.......................... ProvidenceSept. 19.......................... GaringerSept. 26............ at Central CabarrusOct. 3.................. at West CharlotteOct. 10.............. West MecklenburgOct. 17.................... Mallard CreekOct. 24............................... VanceOct. 31................. at J.M. RobinsonNov. 7............................HopewellWade Nash/CW photoNorthside Christian KnightsDuring a 12-year career as a defensivetackle in the National FootballLeague, including five with the CarolinaPanthers, Brentson Buckner becameaccustomed to taking on challenges.Now, he’s faced with another toughtask.Only this time, he can’t go on thefield and make the plays himself.Buckner is in his first season as headcoach at Northside Christian.“It’s a school that really hasn’t beenknown for its football team,” saidBuckner, who spent one year as defensivecoordinator at Victory ChristianFirst-year coach Brentson Buckner looks to rebuild at Northside Christian.before taking the Northside job. “But Ireally feel good about it. It’s a buildingprocess.“The kids are working hard, andthey’re open to what we’re trying todo. I get to build a program how Iwant. God opened doors for me to goto Northside. These kids play footballin a godly way; they do everything inChrist. That’s what it’s all about.”OFFENSEIt helps that there is some talent atNorthside this season. Threeformer Victory Christianplayers now are Knights, andone of them is senior DaryleGrier, who Buckner said is a“1,500-yard type of runningback who can play in college.”Buckner expects 270-poundsenior guard Stephen Beck tobe adept at opening runninglanes for Grier and fullbackAndy Venerble, a returningstarter. The quarterback positionshould be held down byGrant Rutledge, a transferfrom Hopewell who brings“swagger.”DEFENSEBy the end of the season, Bucknerpredicts everyone will be familiar withthis name: Sylvester Crawford.The 6-foot-5, 230-pound end isanother Victory Christian transfer andone of the top-rated seniors in NorthCarolina. The list of schools interestedin him includes Auburn, North Carolina,Clemson, West Virginia, N.C. Stateand Mississippi State. Crawford had 18sacks in nine games last season.Grier, who led Victory Christian intackles last season, also will play linebackerat Northside alongside Rutledge.Venerble will play defensive end.Junior Nick Viole is penciled in atcornerback, while freshman phenomChris Caton will see time at cornerback,safety and outside linebacker.SPECIAL TEAMSBuckner laughs when he’s askedabout this area of the team.“We’re waiting for the soccer playersto get going so we can find a kicker,”said Buckner, whose coaching staffincludes fellow NFL veterans Mo Collins(Oakland Raiders) and Myron Bell(Pittsburgh Steelers).Caton will be the main return man,although several players will haveopportunities.– C. Jemal HortonFAST FACTSHead coach: Brentson Buckner,first yearReturning starters: Offense, 6;defense, 6Conference: Metrolina AthleticConference 2A/3A2007 record: 1-7, 1-52008 SCHEDULEAug. 22 ..............Bishop McGuinnessSept. 5....................... Christ SchoolSept. 12.............. at Wake ChristianSept. 26............. at Asheville SchoolOct. 3........ at Westminster CatawbaOct. 10.......... Hickory Grove BaptistOct. 17.............Forsyth Country DayOct. 24.......... at SouthLake ChristianOct. 31..................at First Assemblywww.thecharlotteweekly.comFall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly25


John Dykstra/CW photoWade Nash/CW photofootball night in charlotteOlympic TrojansEntering his second season as Olympic’shead coach, Barry Shuford hasseen some encouraging signs. First andforemost has been the participation ofhis players in summer workouts, whichwas nearly 100 percent this year. Suchcommitment should take the Trojans along way.“I’ve got good kids, and they wantto come and work out and do the rightthings,” said Shuford. “We’re going tobe better all the way around for it.”OFFENSEShuford and the Trojans will put aheavy emphasis on the run in 2008,utilizing a tricky-to-defend multi-setWing-T Offense. Junior quarterbackWith 10 starters returning on defense, Olympic coachBarry Shuford is optimistic the Trojans will have arenaissance in 2008.Providence coach Randy Long and his 2008 captains.Lucas Beatty will be called upon to bethe composer in the backfield. Afterstarting six games last season, he shouldbe accustomed to the playbook.Junior Mike Huff will join halfbackseniors Brandon Rickett and Jason Cookin the backfield. Huff ran for more than450 yards last season.Despite an offense geared toward therun, split end Blair Boler should shineagain in 2008 after catching 59 passesfor 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns lastseason.“Not only is (Boler) the best receiverin Charlotte,” said Shuford, “I think he’sthe best in western North Carolina.”Expect seniors Antonio Cureton andKyle McNohan to contribute as well.A relatively new offensive line willhave to gel quickly this summer. Sophomoretackles Huff Jenkins and TaylorWade will bookend guard Brett Patrickat one of the guard slots, but Shufordwill need some other guys to fill theremaining spots.DEFENSEThe Trojans lost linebacker leadingtackler Jared Seate to graduation, buteveryone else returns, and Shufordhopes the experience makes a difference.Senior Keith Witherspoon, afterseeing limited time in 2007, will lineWhen Providence coach Randy Longspeaks about his team these days, oneword keeps popping up: unique.The fifth-year mentor loves the wayhis team has shown unity on and offthe field, and he marvels at the selflessnessthe players have exhibited asthe squad tries to rebound from a disappointing4-8 campaign last year.“It’s just a unique group of kidswho are very close,” Long said. “Theyspend time together, and they all havegreat work ethic. Any time you havethat, you know you have a chance tobe successful.”But do the Panthers have what ittakes to find their way in the roughand-tumbleSouthwestern 4A conference?OFFENSEIt’s a major positive that the offensiveline returns four of last year’sfive starters, and they’re all seniors:right tackle Michael Boehm, left tackleNathan Bernstein, right guard PatrickShannon and center Pete Wesselman.The Panthers also have major depthin the receiving corps, led by potentialstars Braxton Deaver and Damon Magazu,both juniors. Seniors Justice Shawand Matt Hickson will see their shareof passes.At quarterback, sophomoreChauncey Concepcion is theearly favorite to replace graduatedJustin Siems.Long said as many as fiveplayers will share the runningduties, and he doesn’t see it asa negative.“Maybe it will be good,”Long said. “We’re not goingto have a selfish team, and therunning back position is goingto be a microcosm of our team.We’re not going to worry about(statistics) at the running backposition. We’re going to worryup at defensive tackle and has the sizeto clog rushing lanes. Former defensiveend Elijah Brown will move inside, whilesenior John Stradford and speedy juniorDarian Adams will man the ends.Shuford has held an open competitionat linebacker. Spencer Solomon, whomoved from defensive tackle, has lookedgood at middle linebacker. On the outside,senior Kevin Kilgore returns, whilejunior Sean Hubbard is leading the racefor the other outside position.After starting three different positionsas a freshman last season, Shufordthinks Dominique Brown has found ahome at safety this season. He will bejoined by senior Jamon Huff.Senior Anthony Hooks and juniorKenneth Elmore both return as experiencedleaders.SPECIAL TEAMSThe Trojans have only one “kickerboy,” as Shuford calls them – but he’sa good one. After starting last seasonon junior varsity, Tyler McNohan hasshown consistency on field goals lessthan 40 yards, which should be goodenough to score some points.Boler will provide good hands andexception field vision as a punt returner.Cook will look to surpass his 400 kickreturnyards from a year ago.– Aaron GarciaProvidence Panthersabout success.“And to the kids’ credit, they’refocusing on that.”DEFENSEJunior defensive ends Trevor Hicksand Jake Hall, and senior nose guardBrian Roth will head the Panthers’ 3-4scheme. Alex Bear, Michael Rudisill,Matt Pickett and Dallas Vandenburgwill fill out the linebacking unit.In the secondary, Magazu is a playmakerat safety, while Long also is highon junior Brandon Braxton, a transferfrom Ohio, on the other side. Severalplayers were competing for time at cornerback,including Hickson, GeorgeJackson and J. Vaughn Klutts.SPECIAL TEAMSThe Panthers have a pair of strongkickers in junior Bryce Thompson andsenior Blake Carlson. They could alternatekicking and punting duties eachweek.Magazu and Shaw will see time asreturn men, but six others also are incontention to get time on the job.– C. Jemal HortonFAST FACTSHead coach: Barry Shuford, secondseason, (4-7); 21 st overallReturning starters: Offense, 9;defense, 10Conference: Queen City 3A/4A2007 Record: 4-7, 2-42008 SCHEDULEAug. 22 ..................................BerryAug. 29.............................at ButlerSept. 5.......................... ProvidenceSept. 12.......................... GaringerSept. 19............ at Central CabarrusSept. 26............... at West CharlotteOct. 3................ West MecklenburgOct. 10.................... Mallard CreekOct. 17............................... VanceOct. 24................. at J.M. RobinsonOct. 31...........................HopewellFAST FACTSHead coach: Randy Long, fifth season,(28-21)Returning starters: Offense, 7;defense, 8Conference: Southwestern 4A2007 record: 4-82008 SCHEDULEAug. 22 ..........................at OlympicAug. 29...........at West MecklenburgSept. 5........... at North MecklenburgSept. 12..........................HopewellSept. 26......................WeddingtonOct. 3...............................at ButlerOct. 10..............South MecklenburgOct. 17.....................IndependenceOct. 24..................... at Ardrey KellOct. 31..................... at Myers ParkNov. 11...............East Mecklenburg26 Fall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly www.thecharlotteweekly.com


Bruce Hardin has made six stops in 28years as a high school head coach. Butfrom the enthusiasm in his voice andthe pep in his step during ProvidenceDay preseason practices, you wouldthink this was his first job.This is Hardin’s first season at ProvidenceDay, though, and he’s clearlyinvigorated.“We’re young, but the kids havegrasped everything and bought into whatwe’re doing,” said Hardin who takesover for Keith Flynn after one season atUnion County’s Marvin Ridge High.“Our numbers are (low), and we’reyoung, but we’ve got some really goodplayers and coaches.”Hardin said he’s pleased ProvidenceDay headmaster Jack Creeden and athleticsdirector Barbara Fricke allowedhim to bring in “the best football coachingstaff in the state.” The staff includesformer NFL player Hardy Nickerson(linebackers), Adam Hastings (offensivecoordinator) and Bobby Collins (defensivecoordinator).“We’ve got two goals,” Hardin said.“No. 1, we want to win right now forthese seniors; they’ve given us leadershipand played hard. Two, we want tobuild a program with our young kids.“We don’t want to be a football team,we don’t want to be a football program– we want to be a football family. Withour coaching staff, if youngsters lovefootball, this is the place to be.”Senior quarterback Gary Scott lookspoised to engineer the offense. Hardinbrags on the left-hander’s leadership,intelligence and ability. But junior PaulFitzgerald challenges each day.Hardin also dotes on receivers Blakefootball night in charlotteProvidence Day ChargersJohn Dykstra/CW photoLook for return man Blake Wylie to run away fromthe competition often in 2008.OFFENSEWylie and Evin Tilson, who have beendynamic in practice. “I think they’re asgood as anybody around,” the coachsaid.Running back will be manned by apair of West Mecklenburg High transfers,senior Terrell Tyrance and sophomorePayton Landrum. Junior fullbackBo Stack adds ruggedness and savvy.Scott Sattizahan is the line’s onlyreturning starter.DEFENSELinebacker Kevin Sherrill will be criticalto the defense. Michael Paul Chernega,Scott Taylor and Alex Zimmermanlead the defensive ends.A freshman, Hardy Nickerson Jr., isthe starting middle linebacker, and Hardinbelieves he’s ready to excel. AggressiveWill Smith is another linebacker,and senior Brandon Hluck shows a lotof promise.Brad Shugall and Hunter Elliott pacethe secondary, along with another WestMeck transfer, senior cornerback DougMayo-Tapp.SPECIAL TEAMSTilson, a kicker, and Wylie, a returnman, are among the best specialists inthe county. They’re perfect equalizersfor a thinned-out roster.– C. Jemal HortonFAST FACTSHead coach: Bruce Hardin, first season,28th overall (287-94)Returning starters: Offense, 2;defense, 4Conference: Charlotte IndependentSchools Athletic Association2007 record: 6-4, 0-32008 SCHEDULEAug. 22 .........McCallie (Tenn.) SchoolAug. 29.............. at Victory ChristianSept. 5..............Forsyth Country DaySept. 12....................at Davie HighSept. 26............Cheraw (S.C.) HighOct. 3...................... East RutherfordOct. 10................. at Charlotte LatinOct. 17................ at Carrboro HighOct. 24..........Charlotte Country DayOct. 31...............Charlotte Christianwww.thecharlotteweekly.comFall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly27


The Good SonEarly lessons from father, football paying dividends for BellTim Steadman/CW photoWhen Hawatha Bell was a child, his father believed he needed help with self-esteem. Now, theButler linebacker oozes confidence.Other Top Linebackers to Watch in 2008NameSchoolTrevor BlackJack CarrollCameron DavisBrandon GrierDaryle GrierChikaobi ReidGene RobinsonAlex RoysterRock StoneJayme WatsonWest MecklenburgCharlotte Country DayMallard CreekWest CharlotteNorthside ChristianVictory ChristianMyers ParkArdrey KellEast MecklenburgIndependenceby C. Jemal Hortonjemal@thecharlotteweekly.comIn the beginning, Hiwatha Bell simply waslooking for a way to help his son gain someself-esteem.A former Marine who went on to a successfulcareer as an educator and businessman,Bell had seen firsthand the benefits of beingan assertive man. He believed that besidesbeing gifted, a person had a better chance toflourish if he were confident and proactive.And he was certain of one place that couldhelp his then-9-year-old son find those qualities.The football field.But what started as a training ground forself-assurance soon became a haven for theboy, whose father had given him a variationof his own name, Hawatha.On the football field, young Hawatha beganto combine aggressiveness and disciplinewith his size, speed and power.“He met, as well as exceeded, expectationsat an early age,” said his father, an Oak City,N.C., native who played defensive end in theMarine Corps.“Hawatha was 6 when we moved to Charlottefrom Atlanta in 1997, and I just wantedto work on some virtues that would help himthroughout his life. He had always been apolite kid, but I wanted to see him developsome leadership possibilities. I wanted himto have every chance to excel.”Although Hawatha himself admits he’s stilla work in progress, it appears his father’splan is paying off.Now a senior linebacker at perennial powerButler High School, he’s the unequivocalleader for the 2008 Bulldogs. Not only doeshe have physical attributes – he’s 6 foot 1,227 pounds, runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 secondsand power cleans 360 pounds – he hasthe self-discipline to do pushups and sit-upsduring TV commercial breaks at home.What’s more, Hawatha is a thoughtful,respectful young man who uses terms suchas “yes, sir” and “no, ma’am” when addressingadults.There’s no wonder virtually every majorcollegefootball coach in the Southeast wantshim to join their program.The universities of Miami, Michigan, SouthCarolina, Illinois, North Carolina at ChapelHill and N.C. State and Wake Forest universities,not to mention Virginia Tech – they,along with so many other programs, are pursuingBell with fervor.“I honestly can’t remember them all –sorry,” Bell tells a reporter who asks him forhis list of scholarship offers.Butler coach Mike Newsome, who startedBell on the varsity squad as a freshman, isn’tsurprised Hawatha is such a hot commodity.“Hawatha’s a special kid – you feel blessedto have a kid like him in your program,”Newsome said. “Our defense starts with him,and we’re expecting some great things fromhim this season.”Bell said he loved football long before heever joined the N.C. Youth Football League asa 9-year-old, and he loved it for one reason.“My daddy,” he said in his smooth baritone.“We’d watch pro or college games on TV, orI’d even watch his highlights from when heplayed in high school. Then we’d go outsideand throw the football around. I loved that.“But when I first started playing my fifthgradeyear in the (NCYFL), I didn’t think Icould play that well. I’m glad my daddy putme in it to build up my self-esteem. I realizedI was good at it. I was bigger and strongerthan everybody else, and I learned to use thatto my advantage. It’s why I’m where I amtoday.”Back in those youth football days, though,Bell mostly played running back, a positionhe kept for three years at Mint Hill MiddleSchool. When he got to Butler as a ninthgrader,though, the Bulldogs had Ryan Houstonin the backfield. Houston, who will be asophomore for the North Carolina Tar Heelsthis fall, went on to break county and staterushing records.Bell had to find another position if he wantedto get on the field, and he found a homeat linebacker.Last season, Bell tallied 100 tackles and oneinterception as the Bulldogs became the firstNorth Carolina team in seven years to defeatthe mighty Independence Patriots. And latein the campaign, Bell got to return to his runningback roots.“That was fun!” he said.This year, Bell will share time with MarkelMoore in the offensive backfield, but his firstpriority is at the three linebacker positions.It seems he’s on a mission to prove that, justbecause the Bulldogs lost megastars like RobertBlanton (Notre Dame), Spencer Adams(Clemson), Jacob Charest (Illinois) and JarrettBoykins (Virginia Tech) to graduation lastyear, Butler’s winning tradition didn’t leavewith them.“We’re definitely trying to keep the traditiongoing on defense,” Bell said. “Peoplethink since we lost (Blanton), Spencer andEddie (Whitley, a defensive back also at VirginiaTech), our defense isn’t going to be thesame. But I’m going to make sure we showeverybody we’ve got the same tradition. Wecan still get it done.”There it is – that self-assurance his fatherdreamed of all those years ago.“He is a very confident boy now, and I’mproud of him,” Hiwatha said. “I think everyparent wants (his) child to become (a) critical-thinking,assertive teenager, and I’m fortunateto have one. Of course, I want morefor him – I want him to apply those samephilosophies and the energy he uses in footballto his academics as well.“But I think he’ll do very well.” q28 Fall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly www.thecharlotteweekly.com


Aaron Garcia/W photofootball night in charlotteSouthLake Christian EaglesLast year marked a great season for ateam that was competing in eight-manfootball just four years ago.After finishing with a 9-3 record in2007, SouthLake Christian coach RichLandis saw his largest turnout everfor summer workouts, and he thinkshis relatively new team realizes it hasa chance to set the tone for the program’sfuture.“One of the themes this summer is‘Creating a tradition,’” said Landis.“We’ve already started to do that infive years, and it’s really neat to see.”OFFENSELandis will use a “kitchen sink”approach to the offense this season,SouthLake Christian coach Rich Landis with DwayneSeegars, left, and Matt Thebeau.employing everything from an I-formationto the Spread. Senior John Larson is competingwith his brother, David, a junior,at quarterback. Landis is comfortablewith either Larson at the position.The ground game should be a strongsuit for the Eagles behind seniorDwayne Seegars, a bruiser with surprisingspeed. Senior Kolby Doughertyalso will contribute. He’ll be joined bysophomores Zak Johnston and SamRemick.The offensive line isn’t especiallydeep but should be effective. SeniorsMatt Thebeau and T.J. James will sandwichthe line at the tackle spots, andfellow senior Caleb Furrow will line upat center. Junior Dylan Stevemer andsophomore Jonathan Lane might occupythe guard spots. Senior Joe McCabereturns at tight end, and whicheverLarson brother doesn’t win the quarterbackbattle will aid McCabe.Senior Keith Nevel is back at receiverand will be helped by 6-foot-4 juniorEvan Arthur, senior Dylan Smith andjunior Tyler Lloyd.DEFENSEThe Eagles will line up in a modified4-4 scheme, which Landis refers to asan “under-8.”The front will consist of Seegars atend, with Stevemer and James workingas the down linemen.The linebacking unit gets a boostthis season as Thebeau, an All-Statedefensive end in 2007, transitions tothe middle, which will keep opposingoffenses from game-planning aroundhim.Dougherty will man the other insidespot, while McCabe and Arthur bothwill see significant action.Although just a sophomore, Remickwill be counted on to lead the secondaryat free safety.At corner, Landis will platoon Nevel,Smith, Lloyd and Johnston.SPECIAL TEAMSThe kicking duties will be shared.Lloyd returns to handle kickoffs, fieldgoals and extra points; he was 31 of 33on points after touchdowns. Remickmight be asked to handle puntingduties this season after showing goodability in relief last year.Johnston and Remick will handle thereturn duties, with Remick likely takingthe punts.— Aaron GarciaFAST FACTSHead coach: Rich Landis, sixth season,(34-18)Returning starters: Offense, 6;defense, 4Conference: Metrolina Athletic 2A/3A2007 record: 9-3, 5-12008 SCHEDULEAug. 22 .............. at Harrells ChristianAug. 29.....at North Raleigh ChristianSept. 5....................Wake ChristianSept. 12..... at Westminster CatawbaSept. 19............... at Hickory GroveOct. 3....................Asheville SchoolOct. 10.................. at Christ SchoolOct. 17........ Concord First AssemblyOct. 24..............Northside ChristianOct. 31......... at Forsyth Country DaySouth Mecklenburg SabresIt’s difficult to take the good from thebad.On the surface, South Mecklenburgwas held out of its first playoff gamein 13 years after school administratorswere told one of their players’ residencypaperwork didn’t follow guidelines.They were then forced to forfeit theirseason, but head coach James Martindoesn’t want to dwell on the negative.“Last year’s season is last year,” saidMartin. “During the season, we went7-4. We build off that.”OFFENSEThe Sabres’ offense starts and endswith the run. Simply put, they returnthe city’s best backfield, and they evenadded a component that might makethings very scary for opponents.Fullback Spencer Shuey returnsto not only provide blocking but gainyards in chunks. Senior halfback TimPalmer could challenge for the city’srushing title. Palmer provides a mixof speed and elusiveness that hasallowed him to total nearly 3,000 yardsthe past two seasons. The addition ofProvidence Day transfer LarryKennedy, a junior, means the Sabreswill have more than a capable thirddimension; he has bona fide starpotential.Tim Steadman/CW photoWhen they do throw the ball, theSabres have some legitimate threats.Tight ends Colin Fadero and NathanGallum both provide big red-zone targets.Newcomers Cody Keith and CodyHodges will both look to replace quarterbackJey Yokeley.Most important in Martin’s offense,the Sabres have a line loaded withexperience. Senior Tyler Starnes willprovide power at right tackle and bejoined by seniors Corey Burnstein, andTripp Pazuko. Juniors Curtis Martin andAndrew Lightsey round out the unit.DEFENSEMartin utilizes a multi-set 4-3 defense,which should be tough this year. ShueyAfter the 2007 season ended in disappointing fashion,South Mecklenburg coach James Martin hopes for areturn to happier days in 2008.headlines the group at linebacker, andcollege recruiters see him at this position.He will be joined by strong tacklersat the position, including seniorColin Fadero, among others.The defensive line will need severalslots filled, but look for senior defensiveend Robby Baer to disrupt quarterbacks.Keep an eye on the secondary, whichlost most of its starters. Kennedy, however,could wind up among the leadersin the Southwestern 4A conference ininterceptions this season with exceptionalcover corner skills. He joinssenior Dequan Chambers at the position.Safety Chris Tran has looked goodduring 7-on-7 drills, as have fellowseniors Gallum and Derek Meacham.Palmer could emerge as a startingdefensive back as well.SPECIAL TEAMSKyle Shipp split time with last year’skicker, Preston Couch, handling kickoffduties for the Sabres. This year, hewill be expected to handle all kickingresponsibilities.Kennedy brings unparalleled speedand quickness to the return game, butexpect any of Martin’s capable runnersto show up in the role.– Aaron GarciaFAST FACTSHead coach: James Martin, third season,(2-20)Returning starters: Offense, 6;defense, 5Conference: Southwestern 4A2007 record: 0-11, 0-62008 SCHEDULEAug. 22 ................ Charlotte CatholicAug. 29........................ at WaddellSept. 12........................... OlympicSept. 19.............. Harding UniversitySept. 26........... at East MecklenburgOct. 3.......................IndependenceOct. 10..................... at ProvidenceOct. 17................... at WeddingtonOct. 24................................ ButlerOct. 31......................... Ardrey KellNov. 7...................... at Myers Parkwww.thecharlotteweekly.comFall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly29


Wade Nash/CW photofootball night in charlotteVance CougarsVance coach Jeff Simpson, center, believes hard workand defense will help the Cougars overcome odds.The Vance Cougars have two majorobstacles working against them thisseason: They’re really young andextremely inexperienced.No, that doesn’t mean the Cougarsare expecting a dismal season but theywill have to work extraordinarily hardexecuting a time-tested philosophy toovercome their tremendous obstacles.“For us, I guess it’s going to startwith our defense,” Vance fourth-yearcoach Jeff Simpson said. “We’re notreally big, but we’re pretty quick, sowe’ve got to really preach getting 11people to the ball. We’ve got someexcitement over there. The coachesfeel good about the prospects.“I’ve always been a defensive-mindedcoach, so we’re going to try to get asmany people to the ball as possible. Ifwe do that, I feel good about what wecan do.”OFFENSEAn offensive player will get most ofthe attention for the Cougars this season,though. Senior Travis Ingram willbe the starting quarterback for the secondconsecutive season.“Travis did a really good job managingthe offense last year,” Simpsonsaid. “He’s a receiver or a safety, buthe’s our best quarterback. He throwsthe ball well, but he’s not a dropbackguy, so we try to tailor the offensearound his strengths.”That means plenty of running. Fortunately,the Cougars have depth in thatdepartment. Junior Antonio Beltonand sophomore Tremaine Whitlock,a pair of call-ups from the JV squad,both should get plenty of repetitionsthis season.Will they have running lanes?The linemen are talented but inexperienced– of the five starters this year,one was hurt last season, one played JVand three didn’t play football in 2007.Still, Simpson hopes Myers Thomas,Lionel Williams, Emilio Cantu, JarrettTaylor and Laron Kelly adapt quickly.Also watch for Kenan Richardson.The receivers are gifted. The groupincludes Tyler Hamilton, Calvin Hunter,Gary Lewis, Hopewell transfer O.J.Burch and Mallard Creek transferJoseph Hazen.DEFENSEThe secondary will be critical. Thephysical Dechane Durante leads agroup featuring Justin Beatty, DwayneBrown and Darius Williams.The linebackers are Malcolm Bryant,Casey Ifedi, William Watson and MalcomKindell.Up front, Herbert Monroe was anAll-Conference choice in 2007. MarcusScott and Codera Bracey have earnedplaying time.SPECIAL TEAMSSimpson said this area is “a big questionmark.”Joel Fernandez is expected to be thekicker, and Simpson hopes someonewill step up and replace Ingram as thepunter.– C. Jemal HortonFAST FACTSHead coach: Jeff Simpson, fourthseason (20-16)Returning starters: Offense, 2;defense, 4Conference: ME-CA 7 4A2007 record: 3-8, 3-32008 SCHEDULEAug. 22 .................... at West ForsythAug. 29........................ at GaringerSept. 5................................. ButlerSept. 12...........at Harding UniversitySept. 19....................IndependenceOct. 3.......................J.M. RobinsonOct. 10.................at Mallard CreekOct. 17.................Central CabarrusOct. 24.......... at North MecklenburgOct. 31....................... at HopewellNov. 7.....................West CharlotteWade Nash/CW photoVictory Christian KingsFinish the drill.It’s an easy enough concept butone that often gets overlooked in highschool sports, especially with the kindof talent the Victory Christian footballteam has. Even if they hadn’t receivedstandout transfers from across the city,the Kings’ group of returning playerswould have been impressive.But now they should be downrightscary.“We set the ultimate goal for ourselvesthis year,” Victory Christiancoach Frank Crockett said. “A statechampionship is what we’re lookingVictory Christian coach Frank Crockett knows the football is in good hands when hegives it to quarterback Josh Byrum, left.forward to this year. Anything lessthan that, and we think we’d be underachieving.”OFFENSECrockett has installed a SpreadOffense that should capitalize on theKings’ superior speed. Senior quarterbackJosh Byrum has emerged asa serious threat through the air, butseveral others, including East Mecklenburgjunior transfer James Harvin,should provide ample support in abackup role.West Charlottesenior transferMike Statonwill be asked tokeep defenses offbalance, whichshouldn’t be aproblem for thediminutive runningback.Two key playersalong the offensiveline are senior centerJustin Campbelland tight endJeff Stone. Campbellhas a strongfootball IQ to goalong with anacademic transcriptthat’s getting him recruited byIvy League schools. Crockett thinks hisoffensive line will give opponents fitswith its blend of size and speed.Perhaps most important in a spreadoffense, Victory has a group of capablereceivers. Senior Tehvun Brantly,another transfer, has game-breakingspeed and will line up opposite fellowsenior John Osborne, who has startedfor the last three years.DEFENSE“Very aggressive” is the way Crockettdescribes his 4-3 defense. Anchoringthe middle of the line is Universityof Miami signee Curtis Porter, whoalong with linebacker Chikaobi Reid,also transferred from West Charlotte.On the end is Justin Fox, a senior whocommitted to Duke University. Reid isanother major-college recruit.But it doesn’t stop there.Look for senior cornerback QualynShipp to benefit from a strong defensiveline that is sure to terrorize quarterbacks.SPECIAL TEAMSStaton and Brantley will shoulder thereturn responsibilities, and both shouldbe very elusive with the ball. Staton probablywill handle punt returns as well.“I don’t think you’ll want to kick toeither of those guys” laughed Crockett.FAST FACTS– Aaron GarciaHead coach: Frank Crockett, fifthseason (31-12)Returning starters: Offense, 7;defense, 5Conference: NCISAA Independent2007 record: 7-42008 SCHEDULEAug. 22 .................Northern GuilfordAug. 29...................Providence DaySept. 5................ at North HamptonSept. 12...... Florida Christian InstituteSept. 19............ at Eastern RandolphSept. 26....................Charlotte LatinOct. 3........ at Charlotte Country DayOct. 10............................Got KidsOct. 17.................at Highland TechOct. 24.................Durham Mt. Zion30 Fall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly www.thecharlotteweekly.com


The Standard-BearerKnight Kamin only has one goal in mind: Achievingby C. Jemal Hortonjemal@thecharlotteweekly.comWil Kamin has a secret.No, it’s not the kind of secret you’d find on the“Jerry Springer Show,” but Kamin knows somepeople might look at his as offensive and selfish,nonetheless.Either way, today Kamin is trusting us with hissecret, and it is this:There have been times during his career as CharlotteChristian School’s kicker when he’s stoodalong the sidelines and privately wished the Knightswouldn’t get a first down or a touchdown.“Yes,” Kamin says, almost apologetically. “Justlast year against Country Day, I was kicking well thatgame, and I wanted another chance. I knew a longone would really boost the team’s confidence.”As it turned out, Kamin was correct. He kickedfive field goals against the Bucs that night, includinga booming 52-yarder that started a run of 27unanswered points to close out a 30-14 victory forCharlotte Christian.The 52-yarder was the fourth-longest kick inMecklenburg County history, although Kamin evenmade one from 53 yards last year, good for third alltime,and another from 51.Who wouldn’t want to kick every time if they hadthat ability?Charlotte Christian coach Jason Estep laughedwhen told of Kamin’s secret.“That’s Wil,” Estep said, shaking his head. “ButI don’t mind. He makes things a lot easier for us asa team, so I know his thoughts are coming from agood place.“As a coach, in the back of your mind, it’s niceto know you have a guy who can put three pointson the board, even if you’re on the 40-yard line. It’shuge.”Entering the 2008 season, Kamin is one of the topratedhigh school kickers in the nation. The senioralready has two scholarship offers in hand – fromthe U.S. Air Force Academy and Presbyterian (S.C.)College – and more are expected to come before season’send.And, of course, he has his sights set on moreaccomplishments. First, he wants to see the Knightsreturn to the N.C. Independent Schools AthleticAssociation Division I championship game – andwin it this time. Along the way, he’d like to assaultthe record book.Kamin’s former kicking coach, Charlotte Christiangraduate Brett Speakman, set the MecklenburgCounty record with a 55-yarder in 1994. Kaminbelieves he can surpass that.“I want to show this year that I’m just as strongas, if not even better than I was last year,” he said.“I’ve had some good experiences going to differentcolleges and kicking this summer, and I feel like I’veimproved so much since last year.“That’s just a big goal – I want to break the record.But the main goal is to win a state championship. Alot of my buddies last year were seniors, so I wantto win it for them, too.”Kamin said he’s made kicks from 60 yards “threeof four times” in practice while kicking off a 1-inchtee, which he has used in games during his highschool career. But since attendingthe college camps this summer– Wake Forest, Duke and NorthCarolina were among his stops –he’s begun kicking directly off theground more frequently.“It’s a little bit harder, but I gotback to 57 (yards) pretty easily(during practices),” Kamin said ofkicking off the ground. (The recordof 55 yards during a game) is a longkick, but I think I can do it.”Kamin has made a habit of pullingoff impressive physical feats.Take, for instance, his performancesin the weight room. Despitecarrying just 160 pounds on his5-foot-8 frame, Kamin bench-presses285 pounds, making him one ofthe strongest players on the team.He squats 420, territory typicallyreserved for burly linemen andwrestlers.“He’s stronger than your normalkicker,” Estep said. “I think he hasa good gene pool. He’s gifted, obviously.Sometimes it comes a littlenaturally to him, but he just doesa good job working in the weightroom. That’s what I like abouthim.”Kamin works just as hard inother aspects of his life. He’s oneof the top-rated students at CharlotteChristian, carrying a 4.7 GPAand scoring 1830 on the three partsof the SAT.He’s an accomplished soccerplayer, too, having drawn interestfrom college coaches in that sport.He would like to play both sports incollege, but football recruiters have seemed uneasyabout the idea. At traditional gridiron powers suchas Notre Dame and Auburn, a pair of schools thathave Kamin on their radars, football typically takesprecedent.“After talking to all these football coaches, I’mlearning that football is more of a job,” he said.“There’s a lot more risk of me getting hurt in soccer.But I try to sell myself as a soccer player and afootball player as much as I can.”The idea of focusing on football exclusively isn’texactly easy for Kamin. Until his freshman year atCharlotte Christian, he’d always imagined he’d playsoccer in college. Then, the team’s quarterback,childhood friend Luke Bard, suggested he try outfor the football team.“I had just started kicking about two weeks beforethe season started my freshman year,” Kamin said.“I had only played soccer until then. But that year,I started on the (football) varsity. People were veryencouraging. Halfway through the season, I startedthinking I could do this.“Now, I believe I can make every kick.”That, of course, is no secret. qCharlotte Christian senior kicker Wil Kamin has his sights set on breaking theMecklenburg County field-goal record of 55 yards.Other Top Specialiststo Watch in 2008Name, positionMatt Cornelius, PSam Myers, KMike McLendon, KTim Sanders, KRClark Sechrest, P/KAnthony Short, KREnis Siloguvich, PEvin Tilson, KRobbie Ward, KBlake Wylie, KRSchoolButlerCharlotte LatinCharlotte CatholicEast MecklenburgNorth MecklenburgButlerEast MecklenburgProvidence DayIndependenceProvidence DayTim Steadman/CW photowww.thecharlotteweekly.comFall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly31


football night in charlotteWaddell RaidersAs the fourth head coach in fouryears at Waddell, Quentin Hinesknows his task will involve much morethan simply getting his team ready toplay.Instead of searching for a new coachafter every season, Hines wants theWaddell community to know his teamwill be ready to go on Friday nights –consistently.“We want to start anew,” said Hines.“We want to be able to rebuild. As longas we’re consistent with what we’redoing, we’re going to be OK.”Wade Nash/CW photoAlthough he had fewer than 20 players involvedin preseason workouts, first-year Waddell headcoach Quentin Hines believes the Raiders canstart a tradition of winning.Last year, West Mecklenburg rodea stingy defense and a potent passingattack to the state playoffs. But thingslook much different this season on TuckaseegeeRoad.For starters, first-year head coachMark Harman takes over for RockyWhite. Luckily for his players, Harmanis no stranger to the program – he servedas the junior varsity head coach last yearand was an assistant on varsity.The first order of business this yearhas been to foster the kind of environmentthat harbors success.“We’re trying to create a more positiveenvironment,” Harman said. “We’reworking on building each other up as ateam (and embracing the idea) that youcan be a competitive, aggressive footballplayer. But at the same time, you haveto achieve your goals with the guys nextto you.”OFFENSEThe Hawks might be low on experience,but Harman will employ a multifacetedSpread Offense to take advantageof their athleticism at the skill positions.That approach is similar to what theHawks took last year.Harman is looking for a quarterbackto capture the starting position, and thebattle seems to be between dual-threatjunior James Barber and junior pocketpasserDanny Helms. The Hawks will beOFFENSEHines will use a multifaceted Spreadformation this season to capitalize onthe Raiders’ athleticism and to masktheir lack of size. Junior DonteriusDawkins will take over as quarterbackand should give the team a good presencein the pocket.DeAngelo Carter returns to take thebulk of the carries at running back. At170 pounds, the senior offers more cutbackand pass-catching ability than hewas able to display last season, and heshould be the top rusher on the team.To complement Carter, senior widereceivers C.J. Miller and Sedric Little willstretch the field. They’ll be joined byjunior Raheem Young.For the offense to move, Hines willhave to get major contributions fromhis offensive line, which returns littleexperience. Sophomore Shane Richardson,who impressed Hines early incamp, will man the all-important centerposition. Sophomore Jovan Dudley isexpected to fit in at tackle, while freshmanDylan McClure has shown a willingnessto “mix it up,” as Hines puts it.DEFENSESenior Tyler Fleming will set thepace for the unit, which has used theable to run by committee with seniorsDonavus Williams and Reggie Whiteproviding the punch, while junior SantarioLockhart offers a speedy change ofpace.The line undoubtedly will be anchoredby Keith Crowder, a 6-foot-3, 280-poundreturning starter who figures to land atleft tackle.The Hawks will have to replace alltheir starting wide receivers from lastyear. Senior Carl Funny and junior TerrellTisdale both offer field-stretchingspeed and will factor prominently inthe Spread. Lockhart could see time atrallying cry “11 (helmets) to the ball”this summer. Blessed with a good mixof size and speed, Fleming is a prototypicallinebacker in Hines’ 3-5 scheme.Trey Crawford and Josh Clark will manthe end slots, while McClure and Richardsonshould alternate at nose guard.Sophomores Antwan Gaston and RyanHerbin will help fill out the linebackercorps, but Hines still is looking for twoother players.The Raiders return All-Conferencecornerback Sydney Crooms, who willmatch up with their opponents’ bestreceiver. Crooms will be aided by Little.Miller and Young, who will act as ahybrid linebacker/safety, will round outthe secondary.SPECIAL TEAMSSince many of the Raiders will playon both sides of the ball, special teamswill be especially important.“We really need to excel at specialteams,” said Hines. “We need to findthose hidden yards and, hopefully,gain a little bit of leverage. We willtruly treat it as a third of the game.”Fleming returns to punt in 2008,while Young will handle the kickoffs.There will be a battle at camp to determinethe placekicker.Crooms will field the punts and willflanker, while White might double as atight end.“We have to be able to attack the wholewidth of the field,” said the 28-year-oldHarman, who expects to see productionfrom a number of players.“We have to be able to play witheverybody.”DEFENSEDefensively, the Hawks will run a3-5 or a 3-3 stack scheme to capitalizeon their team speed. Junior DeAngeloJohnson returns on the line and will bebacked by a pair of senior linebackers:Trevor Black and Tim Ellerbe. Black ledthe team with 112 tackles last season.If a team has to enter a season withonly three returning defensive starters,senior Darrell Johnson is a good one tohave leading the way. An All-Conferenceselection last year, Johnson has the footballIQ to lead the secondary at free safetybut also possesses the coverage skillsto be a productive cornerback. Seniorcornerback Darius Taylor will step inand play a major role in the secondaryas well.SPECIAL TEAMSHarman still is looking to fill most ofthe special-teams roles. The only positionthat Harman believes might alreadybe filled is kick returner, as Williams’be joined by Little in returning kickoffs.– Aaron GarciaFAST FACTSHead coach: Quentin Hines, first season;16-6 in two seasons in MarylandReturning starters: Offense, 0;defense, 0Conference: Queen City 3A/4A2007 Record: 5-7, 2-42008 SCHEDULEAug. 22 ............. at East MecklenburgAug. 29..............South MecklenburgSept. 5.........................Hunter HussSept. 19.........................ForestviewSept. 26........................ at HardingOct. 3................. Charlotte CatholicOct. 10.........................at OlympicOct. 17.................................BerryOct. 24................. at J.M. RobinsonOct. 31.............. West MecklenburgNov. 7......................... at GaringerWest Mecklenburg HawksWade Nash/CW photoThe youth and enthusiasm of head coachMark Harman, standing, should provebeneficial for the West Mecklenburg program.speed should offer him an edge at theposition. The competition still is openfor kicker, punter and punt returner.– Aaron GarciaFAST FACTSHead coach: Mark Harman, first seasonReturning starters: Offense, 4;defense, 3Conference: Queen City 3A/4A2007 Record: 7-5, 5-12008 SCHEDULEAug. 29......................... ProvidenceSept. 5............. at East MecklenburgSept. 12 .......................at Ardrey KellSept. 19................... Mallard CreekSept. 26....................... at GaringerOct. 3...................................BerryOct. 10.......... at North MecklenburgOct. 17.........................at OlympicOct. 24............... Charlotte CatholicOct. 31........................ at WaddellNov. 7................ Harding University32 Fall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly www.thecharlotteweekly.com


Tim Steadman/CW photoJosh Hunter is the strong, silent type.Although he’s witty, Hunter doesn’t waste that talentfiring off one-liners to make friends and familyerupt with laughter. Even though he’s observant andwell-read, he doesn’t use what he learns to give youhis views on everything under the sun.For the most part, Hunter’s done an impeccablejob of looking like any other member of the MallardCreek High School student body.“He’s always been quiet,” said his mother, NatalieMcKinney. “It’s like pulling teeth to try to get him totell us anything. He’s just a laid-back, casual guy.”Until he steps onto the football field.After that, it’s simply impossible to not noticeHunter.From his blazing speed to his bone-jarring hits tothe way he high-steps after scoring a touchdown,Hunter hasn’t been able to avoid the spotlight sincemoving from wide receiver to defensive back for theMavericks last season.While opponents try to avoid Hunter, collegecoaches have pursued him in droves. Weeks beforethe 2008 season, the senior had at least a dozenscholarship offers, most of them from major-collegetraditional powers such as Miami, Florida, VirginiaTech, Colorado and West Virginia – although he certainlywasn’t limiting his options to those schools.Because of his on-the-field exploits, it mightbe quite some time before Hunter’s world is quietagain.“It’s been weird,” he said in his typically softspokenfashion. “The whole recruiting thing threwme for a loop. I think it shot off after the last game ofthe (2007) season against West Charlotte, when I hadtwo (interceptions).“I didn’t anticipate people knowing so much aboutme. I got switched from wide receiver because weMallard Creek senior defensive back Josh Hunter had a knack for getting to the football last season.The Quiet LeaderHunter lets his play do the talking – most of the timeby C. Jemal Hortonjemal@thecharlotteweekly.comwere running short on DBs, but I hadn’t played theresince Pop Warner. I just happened to become goodat it.”Good is an understatement. At 6 foot 2 and a powerfullybuilt 172 pounds, Hunter has great size for acornerback and the frame to be an impressive collegesafety. Then there’s the speed: He runs the 40-yarddash in 4.4 seconds and was a key member of MallardCreek’s successful track team.He used all the aforementioned attributes to registerfive interceptions and 15 pass breakups last year,even though the Mavericks endured a 1-10 record intheir inaugural season of play.“It felt good to get some individual recognition ata new school,” Hunter said. “But I want the wholeteam to succeed. We should take a big step this yearbecause we have all the positions and good depth.”Mallard Creek coach Mike Palmieri wasn’t surprisedto see Hunter start getting so much recruitingattention. Having spent time as a coach in southFlorida, where Division I recruits are as plentiful aspalm trees, Palmieri knows a top prospect when hesees one.“Josh had played quarterback at North Meck beforehe came to Mallard Creek, and he played some widereceiver here early; I knew he understood the game,”Palmieri said. “Once we tried him at DB, he was prettymuch a natural, plus he worked hard. We sent hisfilm out to several people. I knew once wegot him out there, he would blow up.“Off the field, you won’t even know he’sin the room. But between the lines? Hey, he’san aggressive guy.”Hunter’s mother and stepfather, ChuckMcKinney, enjoy both sides of the teenager.“I’ve seen aggressive football players –guys who have more attitude than what a lotof people can deal with,” Natalie said. “ButJoshua’s very quiet, and we’ve never triedto challenge that. We thought his personality wouldtake him just as far as his skill.”But the first time she saw him celebrate on thefield, his mother was shocked.“I said, ‘Is that my Josh?’” Natalie said, laughing.“He doesn’t do much to surprise me – I saw himwalk at 7 months old, so I knew he was special. Butthe celebrating is different.“When he puts on a helmet, it’s like he’s a wholedifferent person. I don’t know if that’s because peoplecan’t see him and he can be someone else. Buthe definitely knows when he puts on that helmet, it’sgame time.”So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised to learnthe introverted Hunter’s all-time favorite player is“Primetime” himself, Deion Sanders.“He was flashy, and I just wanted to be like him,”Hunter said of Sanders, allowing a momentary grin.“I’m only like that when I score. I try to celebratea little bit, but not enough to get a penalty. Usually,it’s a pat on the chest or a team jump.”Are people surprised when they see such demonstrativebehavior from Hunter?“Yeah,” he said. “They say, ‘I never knew you wereso loud!’ But I assert myself out there. When I put onthe helmet, it’s a different Joshua Hunter.“When the lights come on, I feel that I turn into amonster.” qOther Top Defensive Backsto Watch in 2008NameSchoolDequan ChambersSydney CroomsDechane DuranteDarrell JohnsonDonshay JoyceJohnny O’BoyleTrey SandersMarcel SargentQualyn ShippTyree SimpsonSouth MecklenburgWaddellVanceWest MecklenburgNorth MecklenburgCharlotte CatholicEast MecklenburgButlerVictory ChristianMyers Parkwww.thecharlotteweekly.comFall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly33


Wade Nash/CW photofootball night in charlotteWest Charlotte LionsAfter a tumultuous 2007 that sawWest Charlotte ultimately forfeit itsentire 13-2 season, including a regionalfinals appearance, and lose its coachamid allegations of ineligible players,new head coach Aaron Brand justmight be exactly what the embattledteam needs.Brand doesn’t just bring the enthusiasmof a first-year coach – he alsobrings clout. After all, he has spent thelast four seasons as Independence’soffensive coordinator, and he neverlost to the Lions.Not surprisingly, Brand knows whereto start with his new squad.“The biggest thing is going to begetting back after it,” said Brand, theLions’ third coach in as many years.“We’ve made a conscious effort to getFirst-year coach Aaron Brand hopes to continue astrong tradition at West Charlotte.busy living. We don’t want to dwellon the past; there’s nothing these guyscan do about it. Our motto has been‘Control the controllable.’”OFFENSEBrand will keep the Lions’ familiarsingle-back Spread Offense, the sameone he ran at Independence. But theLions’ should lead the way on theground in 2008. Sophomore runningback Jalen “Scoot” Simmons returnsand should emerge as one of the city’smost electric players.Junior quarterback Mike Sansbury,an athletic, dual-threat player, haslooked good in the spring but will haveto prove he can manage the offenseafter limited time in 2007.Junior C.J. Montgomery and seniorMorris Mitchell will provide muchneededsize and strength to the interiorline, while juniors Carl Swain andGerald Hudson will battle sophomoresJaquan Mobley and Deron Goodmanfor time at tackle and center, respectively.Junior Javaris Massey will start attight end after playing linebacker lastseason. Brand said Massey will bepushed hard by Darius Robinson.A new group will comprise the startingreceiving corps in 2008. SeniorsDerek West, Rossi Brown and StanlyWright, all speedsters, will look to keepWest Charlotte’s passing attack potent.DEFENSEThe Lions will employ a multi-front4-3 scheme to capitalize on a strongdefensive line expected to pressurequarterbacks. Junior Josiah Davis willjoin Montgomery inside, but Brandis looking for someone to emerge atdefensive end opposite sophomoreBritton Grier.Brandon Grier, one of the state’s topprospects at linebacker, will anchor thedefense at middle linebacker. He’ll bejoined by senior Ricky Williams, butthe other spot will be won by eitherjunior Barrett Blue, senior Marcus Milleror sophomore Nick Richardson.Outside linebacker-turned-strongsafety Travis Crosby, a junior, will leada secondary that Brand said is youngbut aggressive. Sophomore cornerbacksBrandon McCauley, Ardy Holmesand Brandon Sansbury, along withfreshman Davion Hart, all must learnon the fly since none has much experience.SPECIAL TEAMSBrand hopes to borrow a West Charlottesoccer player to handle all kickingduties, an important detail given theLions probably won’t be able to outscoreopponents 558-211 as they didlast season.The return game seems to be ingood hands with the speedy tandemof Wright and sophomore Josh Covington.– Aaron GarciaFAST FACTSHead coach: Aaron Brand, first seasonReturning starters: Offense, 1;defense, 4Conference: ME-CA 7 4A2007 Record: 0-15, 0-62008 SCHEDULEAug. 22 .........................at AshbrookAug. 29............ at East MecklenburgSept. 5.............at Harding UniversitySept. 12....................IndependenceSept. 19............................... ButlerSept. 26..........................HopewellOct. 10.....................J.M. RobinsonOct. 17.................Central CabarrusOct. 24.................at Mallard CreekOct. 31...........................HopewellNov. 7................................ VanceThinker(continued from page 14)The fact that his son always hadforesight to see academics and footballwent hand in hand spoke volumes forhis parents, Kieth and Serena.“Serena and I are extremely proud ofhim,” said Kieth, who for the last yearhas commuted to Detroit while servingas BoA’s Michigan market presidentand region executive.“He’s given a great effort, both inthe classroom, as well as with hissports interests. We’re delighted withhis selection – the right choice forhim. Ross was the one who researchedthings and found out Duke has thestrongest graduation rate in NCAAfootball.“We’re just grateful for Coach Macand everyone at Charlotte Latin. Theyhave been wonderful, and Ross hastaken advantage of his opportunities.”An honor student, Cockrell said he’sconsidering majoring in biochemistryat Duke.“The academic prestige of the schoolis key to me,” he said. “As much as Ilove football and want to play in thepros, let’s be honest, that isn’t toolikely. I want to go to a place where IRoss Cockrell is considering majoring in biochemistryin college. Tim Steadman/CW photograduate and make $100,000 a year.“I love the sciences. Maybe that anda Duke degree will get me where Iwant to be.”One thing’s certain: Wherever Cockrellends up, he will have thought itthrough very carefully. q34 Fall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly www.thecharlotteweekly.com


A Fan’s Guide2008 week-by-week schedulefootball night in charlotteFRIDAY, AUG. 22Mount Zion at Charlotte ChristianMcCallie (Tenn.) School at Providence DayArdrey Kell at Mallard CreekBerry at North MecklenburgWaddell at East MecklenburgGaringer at Myers ParkProvidence at OlympicCharlotte Catholic at South MecklenburgWest Charlotte at AshbrookVance at West ForsythBishop McGuiness at Northside ChristianHickory Grove at Wake ChristianNorthern Guilford at Victory ChristianSouthLake Christian at Harrells ChristianFRIDAY, AUG. 29Providence Day at Victory ChristianAugusta Christian at Charlotte ChristianEast Gaston at Charlotte LatinCharlotte Country Day at Marvin RidgeNorth Mecklenburg at ButlerHopewell at BerryWest Charlotte at East MecklenburgHarding University at Mallard CreekOlympic at IndependenceCharlotte Catholic at Myers ParkProvidence at West MecklenburgSouth Mecklenburg at WaddellVance at GaringerDerita Christian at Hickory GroveSouthLake Christian at North Raleigh ChristianFRIDAY, SEPT. 5Charlotte Country Day at Charlotte CatholicWestminster Catawba at Charlotte ChristianForsyth Country Day at Providence DayRaleigh Titans at Charlotte LatinButler at VanceProvidence at North MecklenburgMyers Park at HopewellWest Charlotte at Harding UniversityMallard Creek at BerryArdrey Kell at OlympicWest Mecklenburg at East MecklenburgHunter Huss at WaddellChrist School at Northside ChristianNorth Raleigh Christian at Hickory GroveVictory Christian at North HamptonWake Christian at SouthLake ChristianSATURDAY, SEPT. 6Independence at Madison (Fla.) CountyFRIDAY, SEPT. 12Charlotte Latin at Charlotte CatholicCharlotte Christian at Asheville High SchoolIndependence at West CharlotteProvidence Day at Davie High SchoolHopewell at ProvidenceMyers Park at Mallard CreekVance at Harding UniversityWest Mecklenburg at Ardrey KellBerry Academy at ButlerEast Mecklenburg at GaringerOlympic at South MecklenburgNorthside Christian at Wake ChristianHickory Grove at Asheville SchoolFlorida Christian Institute at Victory ChristianSouthLake Christian at Westminster CatawbaSATURDAY, SEPT. 13Charlotte Country Dayat McCallie (Tenn.) SchoolFRIDAY, SEPT. 19First Presbyterian Day at Charlotte LatinBluefield (W. Va.) at Charlotte Country DayCharlotte Catholic at North GastonButler at West CharlotteIndependence at VanceMallard Creek at West MecklenburgGaringer at North MecklenburgEast Gaston at HopewellPorter Ridge at Ardrey KellHarding University at South MecklenburgAshbrook at OlympicForestview at WaddellDavie at BerrySouthLake Christian at Hickory GroveVictory Christian at Eastern RandolphFRIDAY, SEPT. 26Charlotte Latin at Victory ChristianCharlotte Country Day at RavenscroftJireh Prep at Charlotte ChristianCheraw (S.C.) at Providence DayWest Charlotte at HopewellNorth Mecklenburg at Central CabarrusMallard Creek at J.M. RobinsonArdrey Kell at ButlerSouth Mecklenburg at East MecklenburgWeddington at ProvidenceMyers Park at IndependenceOlympic at Charlotte CatholicWest Mecklenburg at GaringerWaddell at Harding UniversityNorthside Christian at Asheville SchoolForsyth Country Day at Hickory GroveFRIDAY, OCT. 3Victory Christian at Charlotte Country DayCharlotte Latin at Charlotte ChristianEast Rutherford at Providence DayGaringer at HopewellNorth Mecklenburg at West CharlotteCentral Cabarrus at Mallard CreekJ.M. Robinson at VanceEast Mecklenburg at Ardrey KellProvidence at ButlerIndependence at South MecklenburgMyers Park at WeddingtonBerry at West MecklenburgCharlotte Catholic at WaddellOlympic at Harding UniversityNorthside Christian at Westminster CatawbaHickory Grove at First AssemblyAsheville School at SouthLake ChristianFRIDAY, OCT. 10Boiling Springs Crest at Charlotte Country DayProvidence Day at Charlotte LatinCharlotte Christian at Northern GuilfordHopewell at Central CabarrusJ.M. Robinson at West CharlotteVance at Mallard CreekArdrey Kell at IndependenceButler at Myers ParkWeddington at East MecklenburgSouth Mecklenburg at ProvidenceGaringer at BerryHarding University at Charlotte CatholicWaddell at OlympicWest Mecklenburg at North MecklenburgHickory Grove at Northside ChristianGot Kids at Victory ChristianSouthLake Christian at Christ SchoolFRIDAY, OCT. 17Charlotte Christian at Charlotte Country DayCharlotte Latin at Church Christ EpiscopalProvidence Day at CarrboroHopewell at J.M. RobinsonMallard Creek at North MecklenburgCentral Cabarrus at VanceArdrey Kell at Myers ParkEast Mecklenburg at ButlerIndependence at ProvidenceSouth Mecklenburg at WeddingtonBerry at WaddellGaringer at Charlotte CatholicWest Mecklenburg at OlympicHunter Huss at Harding UniversityForsyth Country Day at Northside ChristianChrist School at Hickory GroveVictory Christian at Highland TechFirst Assembly at SouthLake ChristianFRIDAY, OCT. 24Charlotte Country Day at Providence DayRavenscroft at Charlotte ChristianCarrboro at Charlotte LatinMallard Creek at HopewellVance at North MecklenburgCentral Cabarrus at West CharlotteWaddell at J.M. RobinsonProvidence at Ardrey KellButler at South MecklenburgMyers Park at East MecklenburgWeddington at IndependenceHarding University at BerryCharlotte Catholic at West MecklenburgOlympic at GaringerNorthside Christian at SouthLake ChristianMt. Zion at Victory ChristianFRIDAY, OCT. 31Charlotte Latin vs. Charlotte Country Day(Memorial Stadium)Charlotte Christian at Providence DayVance at HopewellNorth Mecklenburg at J.M. RobinsonWest Charlotte at Mallard CreekArdrey Kell at South MecklenburgButler at WeddingtonEast Mecklenburg at IndependenceProvidence at Myers ParkBerry at OlympicGaringer at Harding UniversityWest Mecklenburg at WaddellNorthside Christian at First AssemblyWestminster Catawba at Northside ChristianSouthLake Christian at Forsyth Country DayFRIDAY, NOV. 7Hopewell at North MecklenburgWest Charlotte at VanceIndependence vs. Butler (Memorial Stadium)East Mecklenburg at ProvidenceSouth Mecklenburg at Myers ParkWeddington at Ardrey KellCharlotte Catholic at BerryWaddell at GaringerHarding University at West Mecklenburgwww.thecharlotteweekly.comFall 2008 • Charlotte Weekly35

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines