Sunday, September 28, 2008

Q&A with the Observer's Langston Wertz Jr.

Observer staff writer Langston Wertz Jr. answers your sports-related questions. To ask one, go to the bottom of this blog post or email

Q. Why is everyone postponing games? – "SteelerMark"

Mark, high schools don’t have the budgets for field repair due to torn up fields after heavy rains, and they cannot afford short gates due to bad weather.( But some schools have homecomings or games when they expected to make big bucks. You know some people just aren’t going to show up and sit in the rain. Just not gonna happen.”

Q. Not a fan of Country Day, just curious about something: How do they beat a 2A public school defending state champion by three touchdowns and fall from No. 13 in the Sweet 16 all the way to the fourth team receiving votes?

When you lose a game, especially in weeks when lots of other teams remain undefeated, you can slip out. Our poll is a vote and I can’t tell you what other guys are thinking. To me, that would be it. If the Bucs get back to winning a lot, they’ll move back in, I’m sure.

Q. Wanted to ask you about two games this week: Ardrey Kell-Butler and East Mecklenburg-South Mecklenburg.

I think Kell probably wants to show that the Mallard Creek 46-17 thing was a little bit of a fluke. Not that Mallard Creek isn’t good, they’re for real, but I think Kell probably thought something like, ‘They were 1-10. We don’t have to even show up.’ This will be Kell’s chance to show that they were a 9-4 playoff team last year with lots of talent back. Butler better not look past this one. East and South should be low-scoring, though East could bust it open. South Meck is going to have to play its studs both ways, but I’m not sure I would want to do it all the time and risk injuries. I think the Sabres need to be realistic. They’re not going to win the SW4A, but they could make a real run at a 4A state title. But to do that, they need everyone healthy. It’s a thin line.”

Q. Is this really Tom Knotts' last year at Independence. I saw him on TV and read him in the paper and he sounds like it. Give me a school(s) where you think he ends up. Can Myers Park hang with us Friday? I'm a little worried.

His last year at Independence? Could be. I wouldn’t say he’s there in 2010 regardless. But if he wins state this year and the retirement numbers work out and a good job opens, I’d say yes. Where does he end up? That’s hard to say. You don’t know who will have an opening. I know of a few schools that would like to have him, given a few assurances, but it’s not fair to mention them because those jobs are filled. Another wrench in this: Knotts has a home at the beach now. He could coach there. ...Can Myers Park hang? Depends on which Indy shows up.”

Q. What do you think of (Charlotte Latin basketball player David) Chadwick? I thought he was going to North Carolina.

I was surprised he chose Washington State, given it’s a whole country away, but the Chadwicks are close to Washington State coach Tony Bennett, a former Charlotte Hornet, and David will have a chance to play early. I think he’s a great kid. I enjoy talking to him and his father. It’s unfortunate he’s had so many injuries. Last year, I thought he was really making a metamorphosis into a sterling Division I kind of player and he got hurt again. Obviously Bennett likes him as a Division I guy and I think D-Chad, if he stays healthy, is set for a tremendous senior year at Latin.

Q. We were talking about the highlight shows over at CarolinaVarsity. I know you're on GameTime, but step away and tell me strengths and weaknesses of each one. Also, could gametime go to an hour?

I haven’t seen Channel 9’s show since Harold Johnson retired, so I can’t comment. I think Mike Solarte’s crew at News14 does a great job and has statewide highlights, and they’re on earlier. I can tell you to do that kind of show as early as they go is crazy hard.

Of course, Delano Little and the crew at WBTV have been doing this the longest and they’re an hour long now. I miss the glory days of the show with Paul Cameron and Delano (and Harold flying around on a helicopter on Channel 9). I grew up with that stuff. I am biased, but I think HS Game Time is the best now. It’s more polished and Greg Bailey is the best local anchor around here. I call him Mr. ESPN. Gametime needs to be longer – say from 11:15 to midnight -- and if it were me, I’d air the roundtable part they put online with the main show for the Saturday morning replay. If the show went longer, I’d add in as the final segment of the show on Friday nights. It gives you that Fox/CBS pregame kind of thing for high schools. And I still think the first station to do this kind of show with basketball (even during the week or on Saturday mornings) is going to be a ratings-winner.

Q. Langston, speaking of the GameTime show. We can see it down here at Byrnes. C'mon dude, NW above us in the Carolinas rankings and Indy? 31-14 ring a bell? You used to show us some love.

You’re right, and I know better. Sometimes when you’re sitting under the hot lights and have to go all stream-of-consciousness, you lose a little common sense. Right now, Byrnes is the King Daddy in the Carolinas.

Q. Langson, you know Knotts pretty well, right? I read people on here who say he doesn't care about his kids. True or false? Recruit? True or false? Overboard? True or false?“

I’ve known Knotts for 19 years. Does he care about his kids? Yes. I’ve seen him go way out of his way for his kids. Do some coaches do more? Sure. Some less? Ditto. Does he recruit? CMS investigated his program for months and nearly spent $100,000 doing it. Nothing concrete turned up. That’s the only fact I can offer. I think sometimes when people hear something enough and they repeat it to somebody else who repeats it to somebody else, it becomes true simply because the story has been told so many times.

Q. Is Butler really No. 2 in the state? I was shocked when I read that and I'm a dawg fan.

I was surprised, too. I think ’09 is the Butler year, but who knows, maybe ’08 is, too. I don’t vote in the AP poll. Cliff Mehrtens votes for us, but apparently lots of writers across the state smell what Butler coach Mike Newsome is cookin’, if you know what I mean.

Q. Dude, they are roasting you over at CarolinaVarsity. You don't know much. You only say what you're told. You don't research. What's up? You slippin?

Everyone has an opinion. I can only report that I try hard and I do have some idea of what I talk about. Of course, I am regurgitating what I’m told. It’s what reporters do, in a sense. We ask questions, get answers, get the facts, marry them together and write stories. I’ve covered Charlotte sports for 20 years. I’ve got a tad bit of perspective, I think.”

Q. I'm a middle school coach from up east and we were having an argument about the best teams. Could you tell us who you think is in the state finals all classes this year?

All classes? Hmm. Private schools? Charlotte Christian over Charlotte Country Day; 1A: Thomasville, Warsaw Kenan and Mount Airy, in that order are the best teams. I’m not sure who goes little and big. So I can’t pick a winner. In 2A: I can see Newton-Conover getting there, and Reidsville – by far – is the best team in 2A, but I’m not sure of geographic big-little breakdown either. That’s why this is hard to do.

3A, Dudley is the class of the field. They’ll be big 3AA. I like Belmont South Point and Eastern Alamance, too. And Catholic should finish strong and be there with Sun Valley and Kannapolis in the West.

4AA? I’d say Independence over Fayetteville Britt. Small 4A? Wilmington Hoggard (if they stay small) against some combo of Asheville Reynolds, South Mecklenburg or East Forsyth (assuming all are small).


Anonymous said...

I understand the logic of falling in the polls when you lose, it just seemed odd to me that they fell out of the polls after winning a game against a state champ after only falling 3 spots after losing the previous week to a school in Tennessee.

Anonymous said...

Langston, what do you think about Mooresville and their chances this season?

RockHillfan!1! said...

L-Dub, who you got in NW-South Pointe game Thursday. Is this the best game of the year?

Anonymous said...

LW, we pay CMS bureaucrats six figures to create the mess of two games in 48 hours? There were so many alternatives to this and it looks like they didn't even pay attention to the calender....We would probably have a city championship, private-public matchups, and other improvements if we got some new blood in there. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Hey I'm all for a city championship too especially in foot and basket-ball. I'm from Pittsburgh, PA, and we have them there at Heinz Field. It's huge! My question is this: thanks for the great suggestion about playing Wednesday then Monday. Why CMS didn't think of that? They should hire you. I thought Shelby was the best program around here. Someone is telling me that Indy is better. Your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Langston, Wednesday-Monday makes to much sense not to do it....Seen you have been covering soccer (your favorite sport) lately. Why no love for South Meck? We do have a big game coming up this week, you know. You covering?

Anonymous said...

what does dale ross have against you?

Anonymous said...

Hey Langston,last year you guys posted an article with all the state records for football. Where can I find that and are you going to put up an updated article sometime this year?