Published: Nov 23, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Mar 05, 2012 06:45 PM
Roses to Margo Richardson and the East Chapel Hill High School field hockey team, who won a championship last week that was more than just a championship.
Everyone would have understood if Richardson, a senior at East, had sat this one out. Her father, Wayne Richardson, died after a long illness just 72 hours before the Wildcats' North Carolina High School Athletic Association championship game against Winston-Salem's R. J. Reynolds on Nov. 12.
But Margo knew her dad would have wanted her to be with her team. "My dad told me he would be watching the game, and he had the best seat in the house," she said afterward.
So she suited up. Her family made the trip to cheer her and the team on, and the Wildcats dedicated the title game to her father.
It was a tough game. Although East controlled most of the action, the Wildcats couldn't find the net, and the game remained scoreless as the clocked ticked into the final minute of regulation.
Then East's Marissa Creatore found herself briefly open with the ball to the right of the Reynolds goal. Reynolds goalkeeper came out to block her, and Creatore flicked the ball to a teammate in front of the momentarily open net.
It was Richardson. She took Creatore's pass and knocked it in for the only goal the game, the goal that gave East its third straight state championship.
Her teammates mobbed her, and a few moments later, when the clock reached zero, her family surrounded and embraced her.
Somewhere, we're sure, her dad was cheering, too.
Roses, while we're on the Sports page, to the Chapel Hill High School football team, which put together one of its best seasons in history.
The Tigers, under coach Issac Marsh, went 9-2 during the regular season (including a thrilling 17-12 victory over Southern Vance, on a 55-yard scoring strike on the last play of the game) to earn a berth in the NCHSAA playoffs for the first time since 2007.
In the first round of the playoffs, CHHS stopped visiting Asheboro by a score that would have been more likely in a baseball game, 7-2. That victory set two school records: It gave the Tigers the first 10-win season in the school's long history, and it marked the first time Chapel Hill had ever won a playoff game at home.
The Tigers ran in to a juggernaut in the second round. Undefeated Douglas Byrd ended Chapel Hill's season, 47-12, but even in that loss CHHS distinguished itself. The Tigers posted two touchowns against a defense that hadn't given up that many TDs in two months.
Chapel Hill returns most of its top players at the key positions, including quarterback T.J. Johnson and running back Darius Allen. So, as Marsh said, the Tigers' "future looks bright."
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