Friday, June 6, 2008

Wertz Q&A: CMS seceding ?

Observer Staff Writer Langston Wertz Jr. answers your sports-related questions. To ask a question, e-mail lwertz@charlotteobserver.com or add a question as a post below.

Q. Langston, I've heard some rumblings that we could see Meck. County pull out of the NCHSAA in the next 10 years and form their own Meck. County league. A Queen City Championship if you will. They would be able to keep all the money in house. I believe that we have seen other larger metro areas do this. Could Meck. County be far behind with the number of schools in place and others on the way? Just wondering.

A. It’s interesting that this rumor comes around every five years or so. I guess I can see where folks might think something like that might work. In the 10- year window you talk about, assuming there’s funding, we could have 28 CMS high schools here, up from 18 today. Certainly you could form an "insular" group of local leagues – say four – and play down to a city championship in all sports.
But putting together schedules would be somewhat difficult, especially given travel issues with $4 gas.
Out of county games would be hard to schedule. Some systems don’t allow competition with non-NCHSAA teams and the NCHSAA covers some costs that CMS would have to bear under your secede scenario.
And I think kids do like playing for state titles. I think having city championships in football and basketball and softball and soccer and baseball – all very possible – should be played here.
But they should occur before the state playoffs begin.
A city championship in basketball, I’m pretty convinced, would be a huge hit here immediately, whether played after the regular season or over Christmas (a format that would probably be easier to put together given some coaches love of all things conference tournament).
But as for CMS leaving the NCHSAA, I don’t see that happening.

Q. Why is Charlotte Catholic allowed to be part of the NCHSAA? It is not a public school and can, if it chooses, recruit players to their programs. Why aren't they forced to be part of the Independent leagues (like Statesville Christian)? For CC to "claim" a 3a Tennis Title is absurd. Only NC public high schools should be allowed to compete in NCHSAA sanctioned or organized events.

A. Catholic is one of several non-boarding parochial schools that are members of the NCHSAA. Catholic has been a member for more than three decades. Catholic’s football team won an NCHSAA championship in 1977, for example.The non-boardings are held to high standards, given that they can, in a sense, attract students from across geographic boundaries. But given the majority of the school is Catholic, they are not naturally going to attract a wide variety of students.

This from the NCHSAA handbook:
"Parochial non-boarding schools, in addition to subscribing to the general rules of the NCHSAA, must agree to adhere to the following regulations: (a) an all-male student body shall have its enrollment doubled for classification purposes; (b) a student must have been in attendance for the two most recent semesters before being eligible for athletics; and (c) athletes shall not be given scholarship aid or other financial consideration."
I also know that the non-boarding schools, like Catholic, have transfer students heavily scrutinized. All that said, the majority of the school population moves up through Catholic feeder programs anyway.

Q. What are the restrictions about a football player transferring schools?

A. Pretty much in Charlotte, you’ll need to move to the zone for whatever school it is that you’re interested in. Here (http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/departments/athletics/committee.asp) is a great starting point to get information regarding eligibility and transfers in CMS and the NCHSAA. Best of luck.

Q. LW, thank you for the excellent coverage of the Lady Bulldawgs 3-Peat run this season! What a great season!!
In 2002, when I coached softball at Northridge MS and Constance Orr pitched for Northeast MS, she no-hit my team 2x at age 10. I knew back then this girl was something special. Thanks for all of your coverage of Butler Spring Sports and all of the area sports. You and your staff do a great job. You and your family enjoy your Summer, you deserve a break!

A. Constance Orr is a special player. I love her attitude. She doesn’t take herself too seriously. And she a few interesting superstitions about where she sits on the bench and not touching the ball at certain times. She’s the age of a high school sophomore dominating like a post-grad fifth year senior. She’s one of the best to play here.
And thanks for the kudos. I had fun covering Butler, as I have the past few years. The faces change a little but the team spirit remains.
As for summer, I plan to take a little time off to get revved up for football and chase that little white golf ball. My game’s suffering from not playing much.

Q. LW, hate to tell you this, but INDY will not be as good as this past year, 8 great years is a lot, and they just don't have the talent pool anymore, remember I told you first.

A. I think there’s enough coming back for another run. Remember coach Tom Knotts felt his team would have a real shot to reach 151 wins in a row. That would’ve meant another three years of winning.
I know Knotts doesn’t feel this team is as talented on paper as some of the rest, but the junior varsity last year was strong and having the state’s best player in safety Devonte Holloman doesn’t hurt. I would definitely install what should be a hungry Patriots team as one the state title faves.

Q. i played for indy 4 years and i got 4 rings. What people fail to realize is kids want to go to indy kids want to win championships and be apart of history. 4 state rings; 63 game straight no loss; 5-0 against butler (priceless); Indy is the best thing thats happened charlotte for football.

A. Indy’s success was great for Mecklenburg County and the state. Some people stopped thinking of us as a weak football state because of it. And you had a heckuva high school career. Can’t do any better than 63-0 with four rings. And yes, any school with that kind of success will attract interested parties. It’s human nature.

Q. Has Knotts lost his marbles playing a small 700 student 2A Madison out of rural Florida after flying to Cincinnati last year to allow a small 1,000 student Catholic school Elder to bust his national public school record 109 game win streak? So what happens when an even smaller school knocks off a weaker IHS this yr? Is TK drinking the Kool Aid and intentionally self destructive since his old adversary Bruce Hardin knocked him out of the Providence Day job he wanted? This must have been a slap in the face.

A. Well, I wouldn’t say Bruce knocked Tommy out of anything. Providence Day couldn’t lose with either guy.
But I would love to see Tommy and Bruce square off again. CMS cannot play NCISAA schools in non-tournament situations, however, so we won’t see it.
As for the rest of your question, I find this interesting: People used to crucify Knotts when he wouldn’t play out of state. Now he does, and he’s still on the wrong side of right.
He’s taking his team on a Labor Day trip down to football rich Florida to play a powerhouse small school team. The night will be electric and the Patriots will get a championship-atmosphere road game where the only people pulling for them will be their family and friends who they won’t be able to hear in the stands.
I think that would be a neat trip for a 16- or 17-year-old kid.

Q. What is going on at Vance basketball?

A. I think Vance should be state championship strong next year if everybody returns. Beyond that, I don’t know what’s going on at Vance basketball other than the same Johnny-might-go-here stuff that is going on everywhere else.

Q. Langston, you really think Ashton Ward is the best softball player you’ve seen? I think you had the right top five Sunday but not No. 1.

A. Since you signed your name as Viking 1, I would say you’re a Crystal Cox fan. The Central Cabarrus pitcher was special, no question. But Ward was a big strong pitcher, at 6-foot or so, who threw harder than anyone I’ve seen except Shaina Ervin at Hopewell.
With those two, it was like they were throwing down at you. That’s intimidating.
Ward was also the best position player I’d seen. It’s a devilish combo.
The performances Ward had in the biggest moments – game-winning catches, shutouts, big hits – are among the best I’ve seen from any high school player in any sport. I’ll have to come up with a list of top performances one day. I know Ward in her junior year state final and Jason Parker in the 1999 N.C. 4A basketball championship and Chris Leak’s sophomore year state final game come to mind.
What do you all think?

Q. Would Butler 2008 beat Butler 2007?

A. I think ’08 and ’07 pitching was equal but ’07 had slightly better sticks. ’06 fast-pitch squad would beat all of ‘em I think. Two dominant pitchers in Emily Jeffries and Ashton Ward.

Q. Why can’t CMS win a baseball championship?

A. Wish I knew. But it’s not like we dominate that sport. Last one was Providence in ’95. Harding and South Meck won in ’88 and ’89. Independence won in ’84, and then you go waaaayyyy back – to Myers Park in 1970.
Around here, I don’t see the interest in baseball that I used to see when I started at the paper in ’88. I think the concentration on football and basketball year-round has removed some skill players who might play baseball as a third sport and I know whereas we’re a basketball and football first town, places like Greenville, which has produced four state champs in six years, are baseball-crazy. Having good youth development helps.
I think we’ve got some great programs here at North and Butler and Providence and Kell, and Mecklenburg County teams will keep getting to the finals. This year, Kell led in both of its games against Greenville Rose. A couple bounces go a different way and you’re not asking your question. The key is to keep putting yourself in the championship round. I think local teams will.

Victory stars shine at football camp

Three Victory Christian football players had good showings last week at the one-day Missouri football camp. There were more than 600 players who showed up at Lindenwood University in St. Louis.

Kings quarterback Josh Byrum and receivers John Osborne and Tehvyn Brantley made the nearly 12-hour drive and played well. The players arrived on campus at 2 a.m. and worked out the next morning.

"When you've got a desire to go to the big schools, you've got to do what you've got to do to get where you've got to get," Brantley told recruiting website rivals.com.

Byrum, who threw for 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns, and Osborne both had strong camps, but Brantley apparently had the best day. Published reports had him running a 4.45-second 40-yard dash and leaping 37.7 inches in a vertical leap test.

The three players should figure prominently in the Kings new spread offense next fall.
-- Langston Wertz Jr.