The Grid: Week Eight

Week eight of high school football action on WCHL features a battle for Hillsborough bragging rights between the undefeated Orange Panthers, 6-0 on the season, and the 2-4 Cedar Ridge Red Wolves. Orange starts as the heavy favorite, but in rivalry games like this one, anything can happen.

Paul Connell will have the call of the 7 p.m. Friday kickoff on 97.9 FM, WCHL. Live pregame coverage from Hillsborough will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Exclusively right here on, we’ll bring you live streaming of the local contest between struggling East Chapel Hill and Durham Riverside. Jeff Hamlin will be on the mic for that one.

And don’t forget to start your evening off with ‘The Grid with Matt & Matt’, WCHL’s exclusive high school football pregame show hosted by Matt Oakes and Matt Paul.

At 6 p.m., the stage will be set with interviews from all the area head coaches, analysis and predictions from the night’s biggest games, the selection of The Grid Great of the Week, as well as the unveiling of the WCHL/Chapelboro Super Six rankings.

The Grid: Week 6

Week six of high school football on WCHL features a highly-anticipated showdown between two undefeated Big 8 conference schools. The collision between the 4-0 Northwood Chargers and the 4-0 Orange Panthers promises to be an absolute slugfest.

The Chargers, in head coach Bill Hall’s final season, have romped through their first four opponents, only surrendering 29 points in the process. The Panthers, meanwhile, are loaded with veteran experience and athleticism all over the field.

Paul Connell and Chris Casey will have the call of the 7 p.m. Friday kickoff right here on 97.9 FM, WCHL. Live pregame coverage from Hillsborough will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Exclusively on, we’ll stream the resurgent Cedar Ridge Red Wolves, sitting at 2-2 on the season, as they welcome an always well-coached Cardinal Gibbons squad with a 3-1 record.

Jeff Hamlin will have the call on at 7 p.m.

And don’t forget to start your evening off with ‘The Grid with Matt & Matt’, WCHL’s exclusive high school football pregame show hosted by Matt Oakes and Matt Paul.

At 6 p.m., the stage will be set with interviews from all the area head coaches, analysis and predictions from the night’s biggest games, the selection of The Grid Great of the Week, as well as the unveiling of the WCHL/Chapelboro Super Six rankings.

The Grid: Week Four

Week four of high school football on WCHL features an intriguing contest between the 2-1 Carrboro Jaguars and the undefeated Northwood Chargers, sitting at 3-0. The collision in Carrboro promises to produce a high-octane offensive shootout.

The Jaguars suffered their first defeat at the hands of the surging Chapel Hill Tigers last week, but the Chargers continued their dominant play with a 37-7 demolition of rival Jordan-Matthews.

Paul Connell and Chris Casey will have the call of the 7:30 pm Friday kickoff right here on WCHL. Pregame coverage will begin at 7 p.m.

In addition to that one, we’ll stream the high school gridiron showdown between the improving 2-1 Cedar Ridge Red Wolves and the 0-3 Riverside Pirates on our website,

The game will be broadcast exclusively on Jeff Hamlin will have the call for you at 7:30 p.m. live from Hillsborough.

And don’t forget to start your evening off with ‘The Grid with Matt & Matt’, WCHL’s high school football pregame show hosted by Matt Oakes and Matt Paul.

At 6:30 p.m., the stage will be set with interviews from all the area head coaches, analysis and predictions from the night’s biggest games, the selection of The Grid Great of the Week, as well as the unveiling of the WCHL/Chapelboro Super Six rankings.

The Grid: Cedar Ridge

We continue our weekly preseason high school football series with a return hop over to Hillsborough to check in on Cedar Ridge. The Red Wolves struggled through a 2-9 season in their first foray into 3A competition, but with freshly minted interim head coach Clay Jones now at the helm, will fortunes improve in 2014?

***Listen to the story***

Coach Jones received an unexpected call a few weeks ago from the Cedar Ridge principal and athletic director.

Now, he is knee deep in preparations for the 2014 season after stepping into his new role as the skipper of the Red Wolves. Last season, he served as the quarterbacks coach under head football coach Chris Casey and also fills a dual role as Cedar Ridge’s head basketball coach.

But his resume doesn’t stop there. In addition, down in Yanceyville, N.C., Coach Jones led the offense for two years at Bartlett Yancey High School and performed the duties of athletic director for another year all while serving as the head coach for the area middle school. He’s no stranger to the game.

Coach Jones (

Coach Jones (

Coach Jones says he’s looking forward to the opportunity that’s been afforded him with the Cedar Ridge football program.

“I’m very grateful to be here and am enjoying every minute of it so far,” Coach Jones says.

As far as the differences in coaching philosophy between himself and his predecessor, Coach Casey, Coach Jones says they are quite similar, but he tends to run practice on the gridiron much like he runs practice on the hardwood.

“I treat a lot of it like a timed practice in basketball. It’s very similar to how I’m doing it in football. It’s been pretty successful these last few weeks, and I think the kids are responding well. But there aren’t a lot of differences, just a few little changes,” Coach Jones says.

Coach Jones says summer workouts have been productive thus far with good turnouts for both morning and afternoon sessions.

But as most high school coaches can attest, Coach Jones says he faces an uphill battle with garnering optimal attendance. He says he wishes he could make the offseason practices mandatory.

“It’s not mandatory. That’s a battle that any high school program faces this time of year. You’d love to have fifty or sixty varsity guys all there, but kids have commitments on their time. That’s something I chose not to fight,” Coach Jones says.

The strength of the Red Wolves squad may rest in their dynamic duo of wide receivers. Coach Jones says he plans to distribute the ball early and often to returning playmakers Chris McCoy and Julius Walton.

“We have our two returning skill kids on offense. They are going to be big parts of our offense. They are going to touch the ball multiple times in multiple positions. They are going to be big in our return game – punt or kickoff. They are going to be two weapons we are going to try to utilize in several areas,” Coach Jones says.

Cedar Ridge football team (

Cedar Ridge football team (

The guy who will be throwing the football to McCoy and Walton is talented signal caller Peyton Pappas. Coach Jones says he’s expecting big things from his quarterback in 2014.

“It’s very good to have Pappas back under center. I think he’s matured a lot and understands a lot better what he needs to do as a quarterback. He’s grown a lot and got a little stronger. We’re looking for big things out of him,” Coach Jones says.

But although the offense appears to harness adequate firepower, Coach Jones says the biggest question mark may be the performance of the offensive line. He says the inability to get all five guys together over the summer worries him heading into the fall.

“Our biggest question mark right now is our offensive line. We haven’t had a consistent turnout of linemen on a daily basis, where they can all eat, sleep and breathe blocking,” Coach Jones says.

cedar ridge red wolf smaller

Now that the Red Wolves have a taste of what life in the 3A Big 8 conference is all about, Coach Jones says his kids are extra motivated to be up to the challenge this time around.

“We know the skill level of the teams in this area. We got a pretty good dose of it last year moving up to 3A football. It’s definitely a different animal,” Coach Jones says.

But for now, Coach Jones says Cedar Ridge’s state championship game is scheduled for Aug. 22 – the season opener at Carrboro.

WCHL Introduces Chapelboro Cup for 2014 High School Football

CHAPEL HILL – Chapelboro and WCHL are excited to announce the Chapelboro Cup, an award to be given annually to the Chapelboro-area high school football team with the best record.

“The competition among our six area schools is at a very high level every year,” says Ran Northam, WCHL’s News and Sports Director. “Each of the last two years, one or more of our teams has made it to the state semifinals after winning their conference tournament. Despite the teams being spread across multiple conferences, the strong cross-town rivalries make for consistently thrilling matchups.”

Chapelboro’s six area teams are the Chapel Hill Tigers, East Chapel Hill Wildcats, Carrboro Jaguars, Orange Panthers, Cedar Ridge Red Wolves, and Northwood Chargers.

The Chapelboro Cup shows WCHL’s and Chapelboro’s continued commitment to coverage of local high school athletics. Last year we created a second broadcast for high school football games each Friday night so that at least two and as many as four of our teams are on the air each week. We also have a page devoted to high school athletics on, which will get a makeover next year with the creation of the Chapelboro Cup.

Full details will be released before the kickoff of the 2014 high school football season.

HS Roundup: Orange Survives, Chargers Fall & Red Wolves Rise Up

CHAPEL HILL– What a night of high school football action we had. Week nine had it all as one local titan survived a grueling slugfest and another top-notch area school dropped a shootout.

In our WCHL game of the week, the Chapel Hill fans were treated to an unexpected nail biter. Depleted by injuries, Coach Isaac Marsh’s squad entered their contest against undefeated powerhouse Orange High School with a 3-4 record.

But on this night, the Chapel Hill Tigers played much better than their record suggests, matching the physicality and speed of the Orange “Crush” Panthers every step of the way. In a defensive battle, it wasn’t until two seconds left in the game that lightning struck for the Panthers.

And with the dramatic 55-yard touchdown throw by Garrett Cloer, Coach Pat Moser’s Orange Panthers survived 6-0 over a valiant Chapel Hill team.

Over in Durham, the 6-1 Northwood Chargers faced 5-2 Southern Durham in our exclusive game. And unlike the Orange-Chapel Hill affair, this one kept the scorekeeper busy.

It was a back and forth contest, but ultimately it was the home team, Southern Durham that pulled out the 56-54 win to improve to 6-2 on the season.

In other area action, Carrboro continued its struggles as the Jaguars fell to Cummings 37-20. East Chapel Hill was blown out by Northern Durham 42-6 to drop to 1-7 on the season.

And in the feel good story of the night, the winless Cedar Ridge Red Wolves nabbed their first victory of 2013 with 24-17 home win over Webb.

Hear all the action on the Grid with Matt & Matt

Hear all the action on the Grid with Matt & Matt

The Whole Nine Yards: Week 8

CHAPEL HILL – Northwood didn’t try to run the score up on Cedar Ridge on Friday night, REALLY it didn’t.

The Chargers utilized their reserves early and often in a 79-28 rout, but even many of those players were more talented than the undermanned and outgunned Red Wolves. Your heart goes out to classy coach Chris Casey and his squad, but credit the Red Wolves for not feeling sorry for themselves and staying positive in tough times.

It doesn’t get any easier for Cedar Ridge, which travels to 6-0 Orange Friday. The Panthers are EVEN better than the Chargers, which they showed in a dominant 41-21 win in Pittsboro the previous week.

WHO’S YOUR PAPPAS? – Everyone likes Jim Pappas, it’s just a matter of how much or how little. Pappas was an interesting figure again Friday night as Cedar Ridge hosted Northwood in what became a Chargers rout. Pappas, a Red Wolves assistant, is not only the father of Cedar Ridge sophomore quarterback Peyton Pappas, but has also had roles as Athletic Director at both schools.

The elder Pappas can be fiery and controversial, for sure, but he’s also a kind and decent man. The latter is my take, as Pappas gave me a shot to serve as his assistant AD for two seasons at Cedar Ridge. Anyone can also feel free to judge him as a father striving for excellence for his children, and it looks like he’s done a superb job in that department.

CARRBORO OUT OF GAS? – The mighty have fallen hard and fast at Carrboro, a state championship runner-up in 2012 that fell to 3-3 this season with three straight devastating defeats. Injuries to stars Trai Sharp and Marlin Johnson hurt the Jaguars cause for sure, but the team’s dearth of talent after the pair is still surprising.

Coach Jason Tudryn was reportedly pleased about how some youngsters played Friday but the result was still a double-digit home loss to Randleman. The Jaguars special teams certainly weren’t special in allowing a blocked punt return for a touchdown, a punt return for a touchdown and mishandling a punt return for a turnover in gifting 21 points to the visitors.

CH TRAMPLED UNDER FEET – Almost any football coach at any level will tell you they want to establish their running game in order to top their opponent. Southern Durham certainly did just that Friday in racking up 387 yards on 31 carries for over 12 yards per attempt in its 59-20 win over Chapel Hill. Despite the lopsided win, Southern didn’t appear to run up the score, either, with eight different players getting touches and no back piling up over 100 yards. It’s probably been a hard week of practice for Chapel Hill defenders, particularly on the D-Line.

SHAMELESS PLUG: Orange is No. 1 in the WCHL/ ‘Super Six’ High School Football poll, while Northwood is No. 2 and winless Cedar Ridge is at the bottom rung. Be sure to tune in to ‘The Grid with Matt & Matt’ Friday evenings at 6 pm on 97.9 FM as we reveal the new poll, talk to area coaches, analyze and predict games and select our ‘Grid Great of the Week’.

Matt Oakes is 4-0 with his picks the last TWO weeks, which he will hopefully be gracious about?! Perhaps he may even belt out another tune as he did during Friday’s show. Matt Paul is his usual humble, or humbled self, at just 5-3 over the same span. Thankfully for listeners, I have NO plans to sing.

The Whole Nine Yards

PITTSBORO — On WCHL/ we like to go the ‘whole nine yards’ with our sports coverage. With that in mind, here are some random observations/opinions about high school football teams in our area following Friday night’s action:
ORANGE YOU GLAD: Orange, which ripped Northwood 41-21, IS as good as advertised. The Panthers defense mostly stifled the Chargers passing AND rushing attacks Friday night … no easy feat to accomplish vs. a very talented group.
Orange’s Pat Moser is one smooth and classy coach, crediting his team for an impressive win while seeming to understand Northwood is better than it played.
Orange fans were late in arriving, similar to their Orange County CA. counterparts, but when they did arrive they were sizable in numbers, spirited and stayed until the end, unlike their Los Angeles-area namesakes.
HALL’S QUIET…: Northwood coach Bill Hall was LIVID toward officials near the end of the game about possible high and/or late hits by Orange defenders. That’s speculation though as Hall wouldn’t comment about what his shouting was about, saying only “I like my job” after the contest.
Hall was otherwise cooperative with the media though, and it’s hard to imagine he won’t get the Chargers back on track, especially next week at winless Cedar Ridge.
ROAD WORRIERS: These are tough times for the Red Wolves, who scored 28 points but managed to get doubled up at Cardinal Gibbons. That probably wasn’t a fun trip to or from Raleigh.
We have been a little tough on Cedar Ridge on WCHL’s prep pre-game football show ‘The Grid with Matt & Matt’ but as a former assistant AD there I’m hoping better times are ahead. If nothing else, they have home field advantage vs. Northwood Friday at their marvelous facilities in Hillsborough.
BOTH SIDES OF THE HILL: Good to see Chapel Hill build on its win over East Chapel Hill by toppling Webb Friday night. With an overtime loss and one-point setback on its slate, the Tigers could conceivably be 4-1 overall instead of 2-3.
Tough to see East Chapel Hill not bounce back from its loss to Chapel Hill. Expected a better performance vs. another previous one-win team in Ragsdale and 14 points in the last two games isn’t going to get the job done.
CAN CARRBORO REFUEL? Finally, could last season’s state championship runner-up Carrboro possibly drop three straight games and fall to 3-3 on the season? We’ll find out Friday with a home tilt vs. Randleman, a 4-1 team coming off a 10-7 overtime win vs. Thomasville. Much depends on the health of standout back Trai Sharp, who has been out with a knee injury.

The Grid w/ Matt & Matt: Week 7

CHAPEL HILL – Fall is in the air, and with it comes week seven of high school football action featuring two intriguing local match-ups that will certainly whet your football appetite.

***Click here to access The Grid w/ Matt & Matt podcasts***

On 97.9 FM WCHL and, tune in to the undefeated Orange “Crush” Panthers and Northern Vance Vikings. This game featuring the incredible defense of Coach Moser’s squad is sure to light up the Friday night sky.

Last week,Orange thumped a previously unblemished Northwood Chargers team, claiming a 41-21 victory. Northern Vance has been struggling this season, finding themselves still searching for their first win.

Tune in to pregame and live game coverage from Hillsborough with Paul Connell Friday night.

Exclusively on, you can catch the high-flying attack of Northwood as as they look to shrug off their first loss on the season as they take on struggling Cedar Ridge High School.

Tune in to pregame coverage and live game play-by-play streaming on our website,

Each week, WCHL’s Matt Oakes and Matt Paul will be breaking down all the big games, sitting down with the head coaches of all your favorite teams, releasing WCHL/Chapelboro’s Super Six rankings,  making some bold predictions, and unveiling The Grid Great of the Week. So don’t miss out on any of that!

This Friday, Matt and Matt will be hearing from Cedar Ridge’s Chris Casey, Orange’s Pat Moser, and Northwood’s Bill Hall.

You can follow all the latest on The Grid with Matt & Matt on our High School Football page by clicking the WCHL link on the navigation bar at the top of our website,

Conference Play Kicks Off In Week Six

CHAPEL HILL –  Conference matchups kick off in week six of high school football and a pair of undefeated teams highlights the contests.

The Northwood Chargers made the jump to 3A football this season, and have so far shown that the move was not unwarranted. With a 4-0 record, the Chargers have outscored their opponents 158-70. However, this week’s opponent is a heavy hitter. The Orange Panther defense has only allowed 22 points in four contests while scoring 155. In fact, Orange is coming off two shutouts and hasn’t scored fewer than five touchdowns in any of its games.

You can hear the call from Northwood High School Friday night on 97.9 FM WCHL and Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m.

And, be sure to tune in to The Grid with Matt and Matt at 6:00 p.m. to hear from the area’s coaches about this week’s matchups.

Cedar Ridge also made the jump to 3A football this year, and its conference opener won’t be an easy one. The Red Wolves travel to Raleigh to take on defending conference champion Cardinal Gibbons. Cedar Ridge is winless this season, but in three of its four contests, the average margin of defeat is less than a touchdown.

Exclusively on Friday, tune in to Cedar Ridge at Cardinal Gibbons; kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

The Carrboro Jaguars have the week off, and Chapel Hill and East Chapel Hill are on the road this week. The Tigers are coming off their first win of the year over the in-town rival Wildcats. Friday night, Chapel Hill opens conference play against Oxford Webb. East Chapel Hill has this week and a bye week before conference play begins. Friday, the Wildcats take on the Ragsdale Tigers.