Monday, August 31, 2009

Durham Co. Stadium has come a long way

DURHAM - As a member of the Rocky Mount Senior High marching band, I got my first look at Durham County Memorial Stadium in Sept. of 1973 when the Gryphons made a trip there to play Durham Hillside in football.

I remember that the slopes on the side of the stadium were so steep that we almost had to slide by the seat of our black wool pants to get down to the field to perform at halftime.

Has that place come a long way since then!

Now primarily the home of Northern Durham's football teams, Durham County has plunked down $8 million for some major renovations to the 50-year-old stadium - coming in three phases. Rocky Mount's football fans, who last saw the Gryphons play there in 1999, observed much of Phase I's upgrades Saturday evening when they arrived to watch the Gryphons take on the Knights.

Phase I, which began this past April, consists of an artificial turf football and soccer playing field, new scoreboard, storage facility and a high school level track and field facility. The scoreboard and field are in and it was played on for the very first time Saturday night.

It is the only artificial turf (field turf) high school field in eastern North Carolina. They are several in the western part of the state - including every high school in Buncombe County (T.C. Roberson, Asheville, A.C. Reynolds, Enka, Owen, Erwin, North Buncombe).

Phase II will consist of new outbuildings for the south grandstand containing public restrooms, concessions buildings and ticket booths. Also, this phase will implement landscaping improvements and new paved ADA parking spaces for both north and south grandstands.

Phase III, which begins after the conclusion of the 2009 football season, will see the renovation of the existing locker rooms, public restrooms and concession stands within the north and south grandstands as well as the construction of a new, expanded press box facility.

The press box will be ADA compliant and include elevator access, open and enclosed viewing areas, two coaches’ boxes, media/broadcast booth, announcer/scoring booth, and video deck. All enclosed spaces will be heated and air conditioned.

Amen to that! It was quite a steep climb to get to that current press box.

With all the changes due to be completed by the beginning of next season, the 8,000-seat facility would make a fine site for a state championship football contest(s) should the NCHSAA want to bring it back to Durham.

Duke University dropped out of the current rotation to host state championship games a few years back, but this cozy and future state-of-the-art stadium would be just perfect for the 1-As or 2-As state finals.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Former Gryphon on Campbell's roster

Emmanuel Davis, one of Rocky Mount's most prolific defensive players the last few seasons, is on the roster at Campbell University and he is expected to contribute to the Camels' program at linebacker.

Davis, who now prefers to be called Manny, will see plenty of action. The 5-foot-11, 230-pound redshirt freshman transferred from Elon, where he was hoping to play with former Gryphon Terrell Hudgins.

But that didn't work out.

To refresh your memory, he was a two-year varsity letter winner and a two-time All-Conference and All-Area selection. He won the 2007 Rocky Mount Telegram and NEW 6 Conference Defensive Player of the Year. His senior season he tallied 106 tackles with five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He concluded his career with 258 tackles, 11 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and two interceptions.

Davis was also an All-Conference wrestler and he was named Rocky Mount's Male Athlete of the Year as a senior.

Campbell opens its season at home Sept. 5 against Methodist.

Winningest N.C. high school football programs

I found this big high school football tidbit on a message board recently.

Someone compiled, percentage-wise, the 30 winningest high school football programs in the state. There should be no surprise that the No. 1 spot belongs to Richmond County. Charlotte Independence is not listed, which surprised me.

But I am not surprised that new Big East Conference member Wilson Hunt is on the list at No. 24. B.W. Holt's old stomping ground Starmount made the list at No. 20. Well over half of the Rams' wins are on Holt's ledger.

The record in parenthesis is the school's 2008 football season mark.

Where does Rocky Mount fall in relation to all this?

Well, after the Gryphons' win Saturday at Northern Durham, which is No. 3 on the all-time list, to start the school's 56th season of football, Rocky Mount's all-time record is 366-217-13 with a winning percentage of .6241.

I imagine we'd make the top 50, if the list went that far - not bad considering that over 350 schools play football in this state!

N.C.'s Winningest High School Football Schools

1. Richmond Sr., NC---(12-2)------.8224: 387-82-5
2. Clinton, NC---------(8-6)-------.7366: 490-173-7
3. Durham Northern, NC----(5-7)---.7325: 449-164-0
4. SW Onslow, NC------(9-3)------.7313: 283-104-0
5. A.L. Brown, NC------(13-3)-----.7303: 463-165-19
6. Wallace-Rose Hill, NC---(2-10)---.7239: 435-165-3
7. Brevard, NC---------(6-6)------.7151: 476-186-12
8. Shelby, NC---------(9-4)-------.7053: 677-268-51
9. Chrltte Cntry Day, NC---(8-3)---.7047: 398-165-6
10. Greensboro Page, NC---(9-5)---.7028: 379-158-8
11. T.W. Andrews, NC----(8-4)-----.7012: 343-145-4
12. Tuscola, NC-------(11-2)-------.6947: 566-244-17
13. Fuquay-Varina, NC----(11-2)----.6811: 359-167-4
14. Sylva-Webster, NC---(closed)---.6803: 205-95-5
15. Forest Hills, NC------(11-4)-----.6796: 339-159-3
16. Brlngtn Cummings, NC----(4-8)--.6755: 341-163-3
17. West Craven, NC----(15-1)-----.6754: 258-124-0
18. Swain Cty, NC--------(5-7)-----.6753: 448-211-17
19. Mt. Airy, NC-------(16-0)-------.6749: 562-266-18
20. Starmount, NC-----(11-4)------.6728: 329-159-4
21. Reidsville, NC--------(16-0)----.6726: 628-296-38
22. Maiden, NC----------(6-6)-----.6689: 478-231-22
23. Thomasville, NC------(16-0)----.6681: 586-283-32
23. Farmville Ctrl, NC-----(1-10)----.6670: 295-147-1
24. Wilson Hunt, NC------(4-8)-----.6628: 230-117-0
25. Hickory, NC---------(6-6)------.6606: 603-304-24
26. Belmont South Point, NC-----(13-2)-----.6554: 295-153-9
27. Havelock, NC---------(8-4)----.6553: 372-194-7
28. Charlotte Cth, NC----(11-3)----.6523: 391-207-6
29. Swanannoa Owen, NC-------------(4-7)----.6504: 364-195-3
30. Concord, NC---------(3-7)-----.6459: 556-298-30

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Big East Football Roundup - Week 1

New Northern Nash head coach Mickey Crouch listens to quarterback Tavis Richardson. (Photo/David Hahula)

(NOTE: I will run this each weekend while the Big East 3-A Conference teams are playing non-conference opponents.)


Wilson Beddingfield scored 23 unanswered points in this season-opening contest at Death Valley for both squads.

Beddingfield senior quarterback Lance Price was 12-for-25 for 198 yards and three touchdowns, while Bruin back Monteith Lucas ran for 126 yards on 18 carries.

Kris Horton led the Northern rushing attack with 68 yards on 15 carries including a 16-yard TD run in the first period. Knights QB Tavis Richardson was 2-of-4 for 25 yards.


The passing game and some crucial Nash Central turnovers early got Tarboro a 27-0 lead at halftime in the Dawg Pound Friday.

Tarboro QB Markel Pettaway hit Lekevious Battle with scoring passes of 57 and 43 yards in the second period to push the Vikings to their big lead at intermission.

Pettaway added a 60-yard keeper for a score before halftime.

Nash Central managed just 137 yards of offense on the night and just six first downs. Dequan Battle led the Bulldog rushing attack with 42 yards on 12 carries.


The Firebirds' Terron Huffman ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns (40, 45) in a contest that was marred by a fight on the field between the two teams. Southern piled up 379 yards of total offense. Tracy Coppedge also scored twice in the game (8, 15).

Southern's fumbles cost them their large lead in the contest. The Firebirds layed the ball on the ground nine times and they lost it four times.

Penalites also made a mess of the contest. All told, a combined 233 yards of penalites were flagged on both squads.


Fike trailed 8-0 at halftime, but got solid running performances from Tyler Newman and Lawrence Hardy to get the victory in Greenville.

Newman ran in from 12 yards out and Fike's DeAndreye Hill threw a two-point conversion to tie it at 8-all in the third period.

Hardy capped the comeback later in third when when he bulled his way in from a yard out.

Newman, a sophomore transfer from Kansas who had earlier in the week been on the JV sqaud, led Fike with 77 yards on 11 carries, while Hardy had 19 carries for 73 yards.


Hunt head coach Randy Raper, in his 19th season, said he wanted more from his running game this season with his salvaged Pro-I offense and he got in Goldsboro Friday night.

Junior Caleb Bass rushed for a career-high 201 yards - 128 of it coming in the first half, in the battle of the Warriors. Behind Bass' running, Hunt led 20-0 by the end of the first quarter.

He had 14 carries and scored three touchdowns - including a 90-yard scoring bolt.

Cameron Williams helped out Hunt's running attack with 117 yards on 14 carries and two scores.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Goodwin doesn't sign with White Sox

Area high school baseball fans may have gotten mixed signals about the baseball fate of former Gryphon center fielder Brian Goodwin Sunday evening.

On FSN's broadcast of the 2009 Aflac All-American All-Star Baseball Game in San Diego, the commentator, when a list of former game MVPs were listed in a graphic on screen, said "Brian Goodwin of the White Sox."

It got one thinking - had Brian, the Game's MVP in Los Angeles in 2008, been one of those last-minute signees with the Major League Baseball signing deadline set for Monday?

I got a few calls asking me if Brian had indeed made a deal with Chicago.

So I went to the No. 1 source on all-things Brian - his dad Sylvester.

He and his wife Brenda saw the All-Star game and also heard the "White Sox comment" from the broadcast. And they were slightly puzzled, too. Why didn't they say " North Carolina or UNC"?

The elder Goodwin told me that Brian had not signed with anyone and was headed to Chapel Hill the next day.

Goodwin, considered unsignable by most clubs due to his solid commitment to UNC and the possible high signing price tag being suggested to clubs by his advisor Scott Boras, went in the 17th round of the MLB Draft back in June to the White Sox.

I guess that case is closed!

GOODWIN HELPS MIDLAND TO TITLE - Brian spent his summer playing for the Midland (Oh.) Redskins - one of the top amateur teams in the nation. Midland proved that last week as it won the Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, N.M. with a 7-1 victory over the Dallas DBAT Mustangs.

The American Amateur Baseball Congress is the sponsoring organization of the Connie Mack World Series. The A.A.B.C. provides activities for youth and young adult baseball players through seven league divisions in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Connie Mack regular season play allows players ages 16 to 18 to participate.

The World Series has been played in Farmington (pop. approx. 44,000) since 1965 and is played at the 5,000-seat Ricketts Park.

Goodwin went 1-for-3 in the title game and scored a run, though he reached base four times (hit, hit by pitch, error, walk). He was one of six Redskin players to make the event's All-Tournament team.

Midland claimed its 11th national championship with the victory and its second in the last three years.

Perhaps it's only right that the CMWS is played in Farmington. Farmington High School, a 4-A school with about 1,500 students, has won 13 baseball state championships - including four straight from 2005 to 2008. The school has won 47 state titles overall.

WZAX 99.3 FM will carry a few Nash County games

- RM head coach Dickie Schock

Looks like WZAX 99.3 FM will be carrying high school football games this season, after all.

I had heard the station wasn't going to do a "Game of the Week" this season, but apparently my sources were wrong. I ran into its play-by-play guy Paul Andre at the Big East Conference's coaching meeting last week and he provided me a list of games the station, now known as Jammin' 99.3, will be broadcasting.

As a great number of its advertisers are in Wilson County, a great many of the 12 games it will carry will involve Wilson County high schools.

Here is the schedule, which includes three Rocky Mount games with new head coach Dickie Schock. All the Nash County games are in bold:

WZAX 99.3 "Game of the Week" Schedule

Aug. 21 - Tarboro at Nash Central
Aug. 28 - Wilson Fike at Wilson Hunt
Sept. 4 - Wilson Beddingfield at Southern Nash
Sept. 11 - Wilson Beddingfield at Wilson Fike
Sept. 18 - Wilson Hunt at Wilson Beddingfield
Sept. 25 - Eastern Wayne at Wilson Fike
Oct. 2 - Greenville Rose at Rocky Mount
Oct. 9 - Wilson Beddingfield at SW Edgecombe
Oct. 16 - Wilson Hunt at Rocky Mount
Oct. 23 - Rocky Mount at Wilson Fike

Oct. 30 - Nash Central at Wilson Hunt
Nov. 6 - Wilson Hunt at Wilson Fike

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

WHIG-TV releases "Game of the Week" slate

WHIG-TV will carry a full slate of high school football games this fall as part of its "Game of the Week" series.

Here is a list of the Friday night contests that you can see taped-delayed each Saturday morning following the game. If you can't get WHIG-TV (Suddenlink Ch. 17), then tune in on line at

Mike Hennen will provide the play-by-play, while Chris Mitchell will handle the color analyst duties.

Rocky Mount, which will appear on the show four times, has its games bold faced on the schedule.

Aug. 28 - Smithfield-Selma at Nash Central
Sept. 4 - North Edgecombe at SW Edgecombe
Sept. 11 - Tarboro at North Edgecombe
Sept. 18 - SW Edgecombe at Rocky Mount
Sept. 25 - WHIG-TV Studio Show - season recap/conference preview
Oct. 2 - Southern Nash at Nash Central
Oct. 9 - Nash Central at Rocky Mount
Oct. 16 - Northern Nash at Southern Nash
Oct. 23 - Tarboro at SW Edgecombe
Oct. 30 - Southern Nash at Rocky Mount
Nov. 6 - Rocky Mount at Northern Nash

As for live radio broadcasts of county teams, only Rocky Mount's football games will be on the air this season.

For the second straight year, WEED "Old School" AM 1390 will carry all Gryphon games each Friday at 7 p.m. beginning Aug. 28. Wes Bradshaw will provide the play-by-play action while Tony Doughtie will handle the color duties.

Post 58 Baseball Awards

Coleman-Pitt American Legion Post 58 honored its baseball team Sunday evening with a banquet to celebrate the success of the team and to dole out awards to some of its deserving players.

Post 58 (20-6), Area I champions for the first time since 1986, had five of its players honored.

The team's pitching award went to Brandon Denton. Denton will be a senior at Northern Nash this fall.

The hitting award went to Tyler Clark. He hopes to follow in the Hall of Fame footsteps of his dad Greg as he will enter N.C. Wesleyan in a few weeks.

Cameron Ramsey was honored with the team's Coaches Award. Ramsey will be a part of Wake Tech's first-ever baseball team next spring.

The MVP Award was shared by Xavier Macklin and Ben Fish. No surprise there. The "Bash Brothers" provided the power that led to the team to score nearly 13 runs a game in its run to the N.C. State Championship tournament.

Macklin will return to N.C. A&T for his sophomore season, while Fish will start his freshman campaign at Campbell University.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Whit at work!

Wake Forest freshman center Whit Barnes works out with QB Ted Stachitas during the Demon Deacons' first day of practice Friday. Notice the buzz cut Whit is sporting. Wake's barber took this shot of the former Gryphon All-Stater.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Schock replaced at Orange High

Rocky Mount head football coach Dickie Schock's shoes have been filled at Orange High School.

And they didn't have to go far to find him. Just 17 miles down I-85.

Former Graham head coach Pat Moser has accepted the head football coaching position with the Panthers.

Moser, 44, has suffered through several years of health problems since stepping down at Graham in 2004. He led Graham to consecutive NCHSAA 1-A state championships in 1999 and 2000.

He was 71-24 in his eight seasons at Graham.

New men on campus

(Photos/David Hahula) - click on pictures to enlarge

Here are Rocky Mount's new men on campus - or should I say, gridiron.

In the top photo, new head Gryphon football coach Dickie Schock gives out some instruction during Monday's practice - Day 2 of the 2009 preseason. The offense will get most of Schock's attention this season as offensive coordinator Jason Battle will not be returning to the staff this season.

In the bottom photo, new assistant coach Elbert Thomas (red shorts) has a talk with potential offensive linemen. Thomas, who most recently was the head coach at West Montgomery, will guide the offensive line.