Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Q&A with Langston Wertz Jr.

Observer reporter Langston Wertz Jr. answers your sports-related questions. Have one? Post it at the end of this blog or e-mail Some questions are edited for clarity and brevity.

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Q. Langston, I have to agree with you about the start time of prep basketball games. It’s a lot worse for those of us who have more cross-county games than in CMS. My son gets home sometimes after midnight on weekdays and they’ll have two games a week. It’s terrible. How can we get this changed?

“I think this is one of the biggest issues we need to fix in high school sports – and one of the most obvious. We can’t say we want kids to learn on the one hand and then have them playing road games that start so late. I’ve covered one game this year that didn’t start until after 9 p.m. Why? The boys' junior varsity game went to triple overtime. So fans arrive at 6:45 to see the girls' game and see boys junior varsity for 30 minutes. No one wants that. I wouldn’t want my son out to midnight on a school night. He’d be – guess what – sleepy when I woke him at 5:30 or 6 for school. And don’t forget the coaches and ADs and custodial crews who have to stay longer than the kids.
How to fix it? Write to your school board. In Charlotte, I would contact the school board, the schools’ athletic director and the superintendent. You can find their contact information here ( This, to me, is a huge issue. A coach wrote me this morning to tell me that an eastern conference has boys and girls separated. With junior varsity boys and varsity boys playing at one site and girls at the other. Junior varsity starts at 5:30 and varsity at 7. I’d love to see that here or have the girls varsity at 5:30 and boys at 7, as I suggested in the newspaper (”

Q. Langston, why do we have this crazy start time issue here? My son is in middle school and we just moved from Kentucky. Where I’m from girls and boys play on different nights and we don’t have these issues. I’m not sure I’d want my son to play and miss so much school time.

“It’s a legitimate and serious concern. Several coaches wrote me this morning to thank me for writing the column ( Like them, I’m tired of this going on year after year. Whether we split by varsity and junior varsity or split by girls and boys, we need to split. So if Independence and East Meck are playing at East, the jayvees play at Independence at 4 and 5:30 or 3:30 and 5. Varsity starts at 5:30 at East Meck.
“We’ve really got to make this change. Our kids get home too late. A coach from Cabarrus County told me a recent game of his in Union County began at 8:45 and was over at 10:30 on a Tuesday. Then after that, his kids get an hour bus ride home. A few weeks back, at Anson County, they got home at 11:50. Next year, I think Berry will have similar drive times and arrival times with things the way they are – and out of town teams that play at Berry. We need to fix this.”

Q. Langston, please stay on the game-start-time issue. As much as I’d like to see our girls play with the boys, I think your idea to split boys and girls and start earlier is better.

“Believe me, I am on this. This bugs me a great deal. It’s a simple fix, too.”

Q. Langston, I heard you ranked the whole state this week. I’m in Greensboro and didn’t see it. Did you rank Dudley? We’re giving it to Kinston this year.

“I’m not going there, bud. I think Kinston is the clear 3A favorite and I’d pick them to knock off Dudley in the Eastern Regionals. The West 3A could be interesting with Hickory and Lake Norman and West Rowan and Concord all figuring prominently in the mix. As for my rankings, I just named the 10 best regardless of class, but you had to play by the 8-semester rule, which eliminates folks such as ke Ardren’s Christ School and Word of God out of Raleigh.
Boys: 1. Hopewell (4A); 2. Kinston (3A); 3. Vance (4A); 4. Greensboro Dudley (3A); 5. Greensboro Day (Ind.); 6. Panther Creek (4A); 7. Lake Norman (4A); 8. N. Meck (4A); 9. Ch. Christian (Ind.); 10. Shelby (2A). Girls: 1. Butler (4A); 2. E. Meck (4A); 3. W. Charlotte (4A); 4. Raleigh Wakefield (4A); 5. Winterville S. Central (3A); 6. Hope Mills South View (4A); 7. E. Davidson (2A); 8. Bishop McGuinness (1A); 9. Providence Day (Ind.); 10. Hickory Grove (Ind.).

Q. We’re about halfway into the season. Who do you think the best players are right now for the boys?

“Funny you ask that. I’ll be naming a midseason All-Observer team on Friday, so I’ll ask that you wait and read my thoughts then. I will name this team not based on what I think might happen. It’s all about performance. How you’ve done. Missed some games or been hurt? Sorry. It’s about ballers balling on the court. See ya Friday. I’m sure y’all will have questions and comments. I’ll be around to answer.”

Q. Any word on Independence football coach Tom Knotts?

“Haven’t talked to Tommy Tindall in about a month. If I was guessing now, I’d say he’s coming back to Independence next year to coach Carrothers’ senior season. I think Indy is again a state title contender if he does and I think he’d like to leave there with one more ring. But I’ve heard his name come up with the Vance job. Coaches here feel like Vance and Myers Park are talent gold mines. It’ll be interesting to see who gets that job.”

Q. Who are the top 5 boys and girls programs in the Charlotte area? What about coaches?

“Man, you guys are always trying to get me in trouble with these type of questions. But since you’ve now asked by email five times, I guess I should give you a response. For girls, Providence Day is still the top program. I’d go Providence Day, Butler, East Meck, West Charlotte and, surprise, Hickory Grove. Hickory Grove has a good young coach in Crystal Rhodes, who I covered at Charlotte Christian when she was Crystal Carpenter. She was one of her school’s best-ever players and played at Wake Forest briefly.
Boys: East Meck, North Meck, Vance, Hopewell and Charlotte Christian. You could rearrange the order, but East Meck and North Meck both have cut down the state championship nets in the past three years. Vance has been to a final and two semifinals in three seasons. Hopewell’s on the verge and Charlotte Christian is the top private school program around here.
“For coaches, we lost our three best when Providence Day girls' coach Barb Nelson took the job at Wingate and Jerry Faulkner of Charlotte Latin left for the beach and Gosnell White of West Charlotte left for Marvin Ridge. But we’ve got some good ones here still, some really good ones who are making names for themselves.”


Anonymous said...

Langston, are u coming back to Hopewell Friday? We've got something for your so-called No.1 team in waiting.

Anonymous said...

You didn't answer the part about your top 5 boys and girls coaches. C'mon Langston. Fess up. And besides teh big H-Dub (what is that anyway?) and North game, is there anything else to see Friday? I know I won't be able to get in up there because I get off work at 6, by which it'll be sold ou.t

Anonymous said...

what does your sweet 16 for football look like next year, and what do you think of Reggie Price at Lake Norman?

Aaron said...

Mr. Wertz,

I respectfully disagree with your pick as the best team ever out of West Charlotte. I am a Harding Alum (1988) so my opinion is not favorable to either. I think player for player (starting 5) the 85 or 86 team I can't remember was better. Hands down Jason Parker and Marcus were the best at their positions. But the other three, come on man. Dell Douglas and Jules Springs? Jules much better athlete and a better shot. AJ Morgan and Lance can't remember his last name vs whoever was left can't recall their names. The 86 team definitely better defensively than Parkers team. The competition they played against was way better. Every team back then was good and could beat you any night. Let's not forget that Raleigh Broughton was a far better team to deal with in the state finals than Fayetteville whoever. Gary Madison was a d1 recruit averaging 28 a game. I think this needs to be put to the people. I know it is your opinion but curious minds want to know.

Anonymous said...

Langston, have you heard why Jeff Simpson was let go or step down from the Vance job and if Knotts takes the job at Vance do you think Carrothers will transfer back to Vance for his senior year of football? And what's going on with indoor track this season?

Anonymous said...

Will Mr. wertz i have looked at some of the comments weekly form the beginning of the season and i would just like to add a comment about who you thought were the top 5 schools. You were right about vance and hopewell but east meck was blown out this season by west meck by 43 points and i did not see any comments about that tremendous victory or any comments about the best teams this year. Will you start reporting on what's going on know and give props to the schools that you leave out weekly and the player's in the charlotte area that are putting up the numbers and stats to prove they are the best and stop reporting on the school's that just have the name for past player's. Put the player's in the news that consistantly shine every game i haven't seen any in the news, especially the schools from the west side of Chatlotte. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Langston, is Ruark being fired at Myers Park? This is rumor going round, and what's going on at Indy with boys basketball? I heard Spaz is ill.