The week's games

Friday's Focus

August 21, 2013 

East Chapel Hill at Northwood: East Chapel Hill has been a burr under the Chargers’ saddle since the Wildcats upset Northwood 20-18 in 2010. That was East’s only win that season, while Northwood went on to a 9-5 finish, 4-0 in conference games, and reached the third round of the state playoffs for the fourth straight time. Even after that last playoff game, the Chargers were still talking about East.

This year, the Wildcats have been thinking about Northwood all summer. Former Wildcat head coach Bill Renner, retired from teaching last spring, headed down U.S. 15-501 to Northwood, where he’s helping head coach Bill Hall with the Chargers’ offense. Northwood struggled with a new Flexbone Offense in 2012, so fans will be eager to see how much of Renner’s “Five-Wide” passing attack is used effectively Friday in Pittsboro.

Carrboro at Cedar Ridge: This looks like a matchup of two programs headed in different directions. Carrboro has finished better in the state playoffs each of the last four years, reaching the state finals last year, while Cedar Ridge went 3-8 in 2011, a year after it reached the 2A playoffs’ fourth round, and then 1-10 last year.

Carrboro lost a boatload of all-conference players from last year’s 15-1 state finalist, but they’ve got almost as many potential all-conference players coming back. Most teams would be happy to have either running back Trai Sharpe or wide receiver Marlin Johnson. Carrboro has both, making them one of the most lethal offenses in the Triangle.

Sharpe is the quickest back in the area, and he has that extra top gear that separates a Div. I athlete from everyone else. Johnson is a threat to score every time he goes deep. Having both of them on the field at the same time drives defenders to distraction.

Riverside at Chapel Hill: Riverside has high hopes for improving on last year’s 1-9 record, but Chapel Hill will be a place to start.

Riverside hasn’t beaten 3A Chapel Hill since a 27-22 decision in 2009 and haven’t won in Culton-Peerman Stadium since 2005, when Riverside won 25-23 in what was then a 4A PAC-6 Conference game for the rivals. Chapel Hill has won six of the last seven meetings.

Chapel Hill will be going with a new quarterback for the first time in three years, with Grant Deselm getting the start after the graduation of T.J. Johnson, now at St. Augustine’s in Raleigh. But Deselm got some good experience against a 4A team during a game scrimmage at powerful Hillside. “We held our own against a 4A team with a lot more players than we had,” CHHS coach Issac Marsh said.

Roxboro Person at Orange: Expect Orange to run Friday against the Rockets. The Panthers graduated 13 players off a team that went four games deep into the 3A state playoffs, but they’ve got enough talent back that even taciturn head coach Pat Moser admits that they could be “pretty good.”

Patrick Pettiford should be the player who makes Roxboro worry the most. He rushed for 1,200 yards. Wingback Tay Jones and 240-pound blocking back Michael Bolden should help Orange’s ground game. Junior Garrett Cloer, who some coaches think is Orange’s best all-around athlete in years, takes over at quarterback after leading the Panther JVs to an undefeated season.

NAMES & NOTES

Vrouwenvelder cycles to silver

Luke Vrouwenvelder, 18, of Chapel Hill, was selected last week by USA Cycling as a member of the USA team competing at the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships http://www.mtbworldchamps.co.za/ from Aug. 26-Sep. 1 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

Vrouwenvelder earned the spot by winning silver at the USA Cycling National Mountain Biking Championships last month in Pennsylvania. After Nationals, he took first place at the Catamount Classic Pro XCT race in Burlington, Vt., and fifth at the UCI World Cup at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec.

Vrouwenvelder is currently ranked No. 1 by USA Cycling for both the cross-country and super-D disciplines.

A 2013 graduate of East Chapel Hill High, Vrouwenvelder will begin his freshman year at Lees McRae College and will continue racing at a collegiate and professional level.

He’s currently searching for funds to head to the world championships. If you would like to help, visit www.lukevrouwenvelder.com and consider donating to the “Send Luke to Worlds 2013” fund.

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