Sometimes it seems like our local community is all about lines – the geographical and social lines that define us and divide us. On one side of sidewalk, “Town;” to the other side, “Gown.” Live in one house, and you’re in “the Southern Part of Heaven;” move two doors down, and you’re in what residents call the “Paris of the Piedmont.”
Rarely do the twain meet and join forces ... until now.
Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation youth football squads and Carrboro Recreation and Parks teams have merged in four of five age groups this season, and the teams’ records – a combined 13-2 halfway through the season – are reaping the benefits.
“I think consolidation has helped, but I also think numbers are up regardless of the combination of teams,” Carrboro recreation supervisor Charles Harrington said. “Still, those teams that are combined are definitely heading in the right direction this season.”
Chapel Hill athletics specialist Mike Troutman agreed: “Consolidation has helped both with the numbers and from a competitive standpoint. Having the talent combined has given us better teams in (several) age groups.”
Town youth football teams now compete in the Quad County Recreational Football League, which supports four age divisions ranging from ages 5-6 flag football to 11-12-year-olds. Numbers supported separate Chapel Hill and Carrboro rosters in the 9-10 division only.
Budding Titan talent
The 5-6 Carrboro/Chapel Hill Titans under coach Travis Lott have risen to the top of the division heap.
“We’re number one in our division this year at 3-0,” Lott said. “We’ve got about 14 kids on the team, and (in the flag football age division) we play seven at a time on the field.”
Lott had high praise for ballhandlers like Marcus Sharpe, Kaleb Lott, Jax Forrest, and Landon Laney. Laying down a path for the running game were linemen Johnniyus Sharpe, and Mason Hughes.
“If we win one more game ... we should be a number one seed in the play-offs,” Lott said.
Wealth in numbers
Also starting off 3-0 are the 7-8 Carrboro/Chapel Hill Falcons under coach Mark Cash and assistants Travis Alston, Markeith Gary and Steve Jones.
“We started out with 40 kids, and now we’ve still got around 35 players,” Cash said. “We didn’t allow any points over the first two games, and we allowed just 12 points in the third game, so our defense has been really strong.”
Cash said much of the ball-carrying duties are split between Isaiah Robertson, Malik Hill, and Jase Alston. Guard Colin Cash, center Kayon Brown, and Sam Hughes are holding down the line.
“Nathan Ludington has done a great job at tight end,” Cash added, “and Nasir Baldwin also is a great lineman.”
Cash also wished to thank his assistant coaches Travis Alston, Markeith Gary, and Steve Jones.
Remember the Titans’ (coaches)
After several years away from coaching, the venerable tandem of Oscar Holman and his son OJ Holman have returned to steer the Chapel Hill Titan squad to an impressive 3-0 start, but not without a bit of recruiting up front.
“We started out with just 12 players, so my son OJ and I started hitting the pavement,” Oscar Holman said. “We made fliers, and we even gave them to parents to give out.”
Holman’s grandson (OJ’s son) Isaiah Holman and Caleb French swap off quarterback duties and hand the ball off to capable ball carriers like Malik Alston, Jermaine Burnette, Shane Perkins, and Carlos Taylor.
“On the line, we’ve got Cai Jones and Jaiden Jones, and then we’ve got Torian Pope and Noah Munn, who plays defensive end,” Holman said. “Sean Whitted is also tough.”
Coach Lester Fortney said the key to his 9-10 Carrboro Cougar team’s 2-1 start is football smarts.
“This is one of the smartest and most engaged groups of football players I’ve ever coached,” he said. “Our football IQ makes up for lesser numbers, and we have some great athletes too.”
Fortney said paving the way for quarterback Caleb Kelley, running back Jamil Elbahzawan, and fullback Jackson Fortney were solid linemen Cooper Jackson and Ryan Stafford.
“We’ve also got Phoenix Tudryn at wide receiver,” Fortney added, “and he’s caught a couple nice touchdown passes for us.”
Filling Titanic shoes
Last year, the 11-12 Titan squad won the league championship, but many from that roster are now bolstering the rosters of local middle schools. Even so, the current Carrboro/ Chapel Hill Titans have earned a 2-1 start.
“We’ve got a nice mix of kids who’ve played before and kids who are learning,” head coach Scott Ragland said.
Ragland praised quarterback Patrick Johnson, fullback Ben Gleiter, and running back Rakim Heyson.
“Rakim is a veteran,” he said. “On the line, Jay Rivenbark at center is a stalwart. Jonathan Fenner is our … pulling guard: he’s fast and he’s tough.”
“On defense, we’ve got Tim Rogers-Neal, and we have twins: Anthony and Anthan Enoch who are athletic. They’re our ‘Bear Crawlers’ in the “A” gaps on defense.”
Come cheer two towns
All local teams are in action on Saturday, with games throughout the day at East Chapel Hill High School. Games begin at 10 a.m. with a 5-6 flag football game versus East Chatham. The 7-8 Falcons play East Chatham at 11 a.m., followed by a 12:30 p.m. East Chatham / Chapel Hill 9-10 contest, and the 9-10 Carrboro Cougars play Siler City at 2:00 p.m. Games conclude with the 11-12 Titans versus East Chatham at 3:30 p.m