Chansky’s Notebook: East Football Needs Creative Solution

This is today’s Art Chansky’s Sports Notebook as heard on 97.9 WCHL. You can listen to previous Sports Notebooks here.

It’s time for East Chapel Hill to drop football or merge its team with another school.

Here we are in July and less than a month away from prep football practice around the state. And East Chapel Hill High School has not officially named its new head coach. Supposedly, it is Ryan Johnson, the defensive coordinator on the Wildcats’ 0-11 team last season that had to forfeit three of its last four games due to a shortage of healthy players.

The team began last season with only 23 kids and was down to 16 when it forfeited the games that it would have lost anyway. Even the 35 who Johnson said showed up for the most recent spring workouts is not enough for a team that competes in the state’s largest-school category, 4-A.

Johnson will be at least the fourth head coach in the last 10 years at the prestigious high school that regularly produces state championships in soccer, tennis, golf, lacrosse and cross country. In fact, there is not another bad sports team practicing on the Weaver Dairy Road fields. Football, because so few kids go out for the team, has always been the exception for Wildcat athletics.

Since Bill Renner, Bryn’s father, coached East to a couple of winning seasons and built a respectable program, it has slid back into gridiron obscurity, where it will remain until more kids go out for football or the sport is dropped altogether. That would be unfair for those kids who want to play and play well. Drew Davis, son of Butch, threw for 4,000 yards on Renner’s teams and there is usually at least one Division 1 prospect on the squad.

Since proportionally fewer kids go out for football at all 3 Chapel Hill high schools, some sort of merger in the sport seems logical. Imagine how good a consolidated team would be, combining players from East, Chapel Hill and Carrboro High Schools. At the very least, if East were to drop football, its players should have the option to transfer to another school or, better yet, just be allowed to play for the Chapel Hill Tigers or Carrboro Jaguars.

That would save some money for the school system and actually improve the chances for the high schools off Homestead and Smith Level roads to post great seasons and go deep into the state playoffs. The traditional way of fielding a football team at East clearly is not working. It’s time for some creative thinking.

Civil War and WWI Lectures Offered by CHHS Teacher

The Civil War and World War I are still topics that generate interest today and an opportunity exists to brush up on your history knowledge – and learn something new.

Bill Melega is a history teacher at Chapel Hill High School and was named the 2010 Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Teacher of the Year. He is bringing his expertise to the community in the form of a weekly lecture covering portions of two of the most polarizing wars in human history.

Melega says the lectures will be broken into portions. “[We’ll do] five weeks on the Civil War,” he says, “and then we’re going to dispel myths of World War I.”

This is the third year that Melega has offered the community lectures; this year’s Civil War portion will cover the period from 1864 through the assassination of President Lincoln.

Melega says there are many interesting stories to tell from this time in American history.

The five lectures covering the final stages of the Civil War begin Thursday night, January 8 from 7 to 8:30. The cost of attending the lectures is $75 for the entire series or $20 per session.

The World War I portion of the lectures will take place the five weeks following the Civil War presentations.

All of the proceeds will benefit the PTSA.

More information is available here.

CHCCS Says 83% Of Lockdown Alerts Were Successfully Delivered

After Tuesday’s precautionary lockdown at Chapel Hill High, some parents are wondering why they didn’t get a phone call alerting them to the incident, but Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s Executive Director for Community Relations Jeff Nash says the majority of those calls were delivered.

“Eighty-three percent of the phone calls were considered successful deliveries; 17 percent were unsuccessful deliveries,” says Nash.

The school was placed on lockdown due to an altercation between students in which one student was reportedly pepper-sprayed by another student by accident.

Nash said it took approximately ten minutes to locate the pepper spray and confirm the incident was under control. Once that happened, the automated calls went out.

“The message went out at 2:48 p.m,” says Nash. “According to our stats it took eight minutes for the message to go out to all the phone numbers, so by 2:56 p.m. everybody had been called.”

1,151 calls were successfully delivered to either a live person or an answering machine. The 244 calls that were not delivered mostly went unanswered.

Nash says the call was an outreach call, a type of update that is usually delivered to a family’s primary contact number. Had the situation been more serious, Nash says the school would have sent out a message to all possible contact numbers.

“There’s also an emergency message that we can use in some situations where it would reach every phone number a parent has, up to six numbers per household,” says Nash. “In this case it was an outreach message so it was more of an update on ‘here’s what happened, it’s been handled.’ It went out quickly and it went out as a phone call.”

Nash notes that in some cases, families may have dropped a land line in favor of mobile phone service, but forgotten to alert the school system to the change.

If you are the parent of a child in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and you want to update your contact number,  you can contact the Data Manager at each school.

Here’s the full breakdown of how Tuesday’s outreach calls were delivered:

Successful Deliveries 83% (1151)
  Live Delivery 514
  Answering Machine 637
Unsuccessful Deliveries 17% (244)
  Hangup 5
  Busy 17
  No Answer 204
  Fax/Modem 5
  Phone Network Busy 6
  Opted-Out 4
  Bad Phone Number 9

CHHS Precautionary Lockdown Lifted

3:55 p.m. update: Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools spokesperson Jeff Nash confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the school was placed on lockdown due to an altercation between students. He said one student apparently pepper sprayed another student.

It took approximately ten minutes to locate the pepper spray and confirm the incident was controlled, according to Nash. He said the student said it was an accident.

Story originally posted September 23, 2014, 3:45 p.m.

A receptionist at Chapel Hill High School confirmed Tuesday at around 2:45 p.m. that the school was locked down as a precaution Tuesday but that the lockdown was no longer active.

The receptionist couldn’t give further details about why the school was placed on lockdown or when it occurred. She said Assistant Principal Kevin Kay could provide more information, but when forwarded to his extension, he did not answer.

News of the lockdown was initially shared by the parent of a student on Facebook. She posted that neither she nor her student knew why the school was locked down.

All NCHSAA Basketball Finals To be Played In Chapel Hill This Season

Commissioner Davis Whitfield of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association confirmed Wednesday that the eight NCHSAA basketball championship games culminating the 2014-15 season will all be played in Chapel Hill.

Four games will be played at the Smith Center and four games at Carmichael Arena, both on the campus of the University of North Carolina, all on Saturday, March 14. The 2-A and 4-A games for men and women will be played at the Smith Center while the 1-A and 3-A contests are slated fro Carmichael Arena.

2013-14: CHHS Wins 3A NCHSAA Girls’ Basketball State Title With Perfect Season

State basketball championship games have been held at the Smith Center and at Reynolds Coliseum on the North Carolina State University campus every year since 2003, with specific classifications for men and women alternating between the two sites. But major renovations scheduled for Reynolds Coliseum make it unavailable for use for state championship play.

“We look forward to contesting the 2015 NCHSAA state basketball championships on the campus of the University of North Carolina,” said Whitfield. “Since the NCHSAA moved to neutral sites for basketball championships, the Smith Center has figured prominently in that mix, with the first championship there in 1986 not long the after the Smith Center opened. Due to construction taking place at Reynolds, we have to make an adjustment and we thank UNC and its administration for its willingness to open its campus to all four classes of NCHSAA basketball.”

For a number of years, men’s games were played at the Smith Center and women’s at Carmichael Auditorium, and then for a couple of seasons all eight games were played at the Smith Center before the Raleigh-Chapel Hill rotation was developed.

NAACP Calls for Ouster of Assistant Principal at Chapel Hill High UPDATE: Assistant Principal Reassigned

NAACP members and local pastors are backing the angry mother of a 16-year-old boy in calling for the ouster of an assistant principal at Chapel Hill High School.

They’re calling Assistant Principal Julie Hennis “reckless” and “irresponsible” for the way she allegedly handled an alcohol-poisoning incident during summer classes.

“Had my son died, and I’d not even known it, what would they have been able to tell me?” asked Susan Headen, the mother of a 16-year-old African-American male high school student who, until recently, attended Chapel Hill High.

Headen told WCHL that on July 18, she arrived at Chapel Hill High School at 12:30 p.m. to pick up her son from summer school and take him to his part-time job at a veterinarian’s office.

She said he sat in the parking lot for about 20 minutes before she went inside to look for her son. There, she heard some frightening news from a school resource officer. Headen said the officer seemed surprised that she hadn’t received a call.

The officer told her that her son had suffered a seizure and bumped his head.

“I just stood there for a minute, and then I left and went to the hospital, where I found my son, with no name,” said Headen. “He was like a John Doe. They didn’t even know his name.”

She said she arrived at the Intensive Care wing of UNC Hospital to find her son unconscious, and attached to a ventilator. He had serious alcohol poisoning.

Even so, Headen said she had to drive back to Chapel Hill High School to pick up an incident report to bring back to hospital staff.

She said that when she arrived at the school, she spoke to Assistant Principal Julie Hennis, who was reportedly in charge that day.

Headen told WHCL that Hennis informed her that her son would probably be expelled for having alcohol on campus.

The worried mom spent the next 29 hours at the hospital, not knowing whether her son was going to make it. He did regain consciousness and recover, and has since transferred out of Chapel Hill High to Phoenix Academy High School.

Details have emerged since July 18. The student was reportedly found passed out in the school at around 9:50 a.m., three hours before his mom went looking for him. He was transported to the hospital by EMS technicians.

According to Headen, Assistant Principal Hennis did not notify her of the situation, but instead left a message with her other son to have his mother call the school. Hennis provided no details, said Headen.

Headen said that when she went back to Chapel Hill High days later for some explanations, she was told that that there was “no protocol” for handling such a situation during the summer.

News of the incident has outraged members of the local church community, and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP has gotten involved. They’re asking for Hennis to be fired.

Ten pastors recently signed a letter to that effect that was sent to the CHCCS Board of Education. One of the signers was Minister Robert L. Campbell, president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP.

The letter also demands an investigation into the school resource officer on duty that day. According to Headen, the officer told her that “if this were a real emergency I would have gone,” when she asked him why he didn’t accompany her son to the hospital. The unconscious boy reportedly arrived there without an adult from the school.

At Thursday night’s meeting of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education, two members of the public spoke out about the incident.

One speaker, former Board of Education member Greg McElveen, adhered to the Board’s policy of not naming administrators, faculty or students during comments.

He made it clear, though, that he was criticizing Hennis, and he expressed disappointment to his old colleagues that she still has her job.

“There were clear standards of behavior and conduct that, no one disputes, were ignored and not followed,” said McElveen. “So, many of the facts are not in dispute. And despite that, it appears that that staff member may still be considered a valued employee in the district.”

Another speaker at the meeting, NAACP member Michelle Laws, spoke to WCHL outside the meeting room after she made her comments to the board.

She said she wanted to go on record to say this about the incident:

“Had this been a white child, and a black principal, without question – or assistant principal – without question, she would have been fired on the spot.”

Chapel Hill High School Assistant Principal Julie Hennis is white.

WCHL has reached out to Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools for comments about the issue, and we’ll keep you informed about any developments, as they happen.

UPDATE: Executive Director of Community Relations for CHCCS Jeffrey Nash told WCHL in an email that the school system declined to comment on the matter “to protect the names/reputations of the student and others involved.”

UPDATE:The News & Observer reported Friday that Hennis has been removed from Chapel Hill High School and will be reassigned.

WCHL And Present The Chapelboro Cup

The Chapelboro Cup will be presented to the Chapelboro high school football team with the best overall record at the end of the regular season. Bitter rivalries have formed through the years between the teams of Orange and northern Chatham counties. Four of the six teams battle for a conference title each season now with Northwood and Cedar Ridge making the move to the 3A Big 8 conference.

Chapelboro Cup Standings

Orange made it deep in the 3A state title playoffs last season, but Chapel Hill may very well be the team to beat this season. And, you can’t count out Carrboro or East Chapel Hill to play spoiler in any matchup.


In the event of a tie, the following tiebreakers will determine a winner:

1. If two teams are tied, the winner of the head-to-head matchup will be awarded the Chapelboro Cup.
2. If more than two teams are tied, or the teams that are tied did not play each other, the best team’s record against other Chapelboro teams will determine the Chapelboro Cup Champion.

The Grid: Chapel Hill High Tigers

The high school football season is rapidly approaching. With that in mind, here’s the launch of a new preseason series to get you ready for all the exciting game broadcasts this fall that will kick off each Friday night with ‘The Grid with Matt & Matt’ on WCHL, 97.9 FM.

First up comes Chapel Hill High School and Tiger head coach Isaac Marsh.

***Listen to the story***

After a couple superb seasons in 2011 and 2012, the Tigers were never able to find their footing a season ago, stumbling to a 4-8 final mark in 2013.

Coach Marsh says the injuries and inexperience were just too much for Chapel Hill to overcome.

“We were never quite there. We were in several games, but we were never quite able to finish the games out. That comes from injuries and just having a young team,” Coach Marsh says.

But the Tigers were competitive. Most notably, in a 6-0 narrow defeat to then undefeated Orange High School that memorably ended on a last-second touchdown as time expired.

But Coach Marsh is looking for more. He says he’s liked what he’s seen in offseason workouts so far for a couple of positive reasons.

“The offseason has been an interesting one. I think we’ve improved greatly with the numbers of guys that are coming out to play football. That’s a positive. The next thing that we have noticed is the high energy in workouts,” Coach Marsh says.

The Tigers are getting it done on the scoreboard as well. Chapel Hill claimed the title at the 7-on-7 tournament in Pinecrest earlier this summer.

Who are the guys to watch out for in black and gold this season? Coach Marsh says he has two big-time players in mind.

“They have been playing up on varsity for a long time now. Logan Tisch is a top college prospect with offers and Noah Layden as well. Those are our two top guys. We return a strong nucleus of guys up front,” Coach Marsh says.

Speaking of the guys up front, Coach Marsh says the linemen on both sides of the ball will be the strengths of the Tiger team.

“On the offensive line, we return four out of our five starters from last season. On the defensive line, we return all four starters. So definitely, up front for us in the trenches, that’s where our strength lies,” Coach Marsh says.

Isaac Marsh (

Isaac Marsh (

With such a veteran-laden offensive line, it’s easy to envision some success moving the ball for Chapel Hill this fall. But on the other side of the spectrum, Coach Marsh says he worries about complacency in his team.

He says he wants to impress upon the Tigers to be focused on upping the ante at every practice.

“Our players have to constantly improve on something each day. Don’t just when you come out here, ‘I don’t have anything to work on. I’m just going to go through the normal flow.’ Whatever you improved upon or learned the day before, try to increase it the next day,” Coach Marsh says.

Although the Tigers have even loftier aspirations, Coach Marsh says the team is staying local with its goals first.

“We want to be the top school in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district. We want to beat Carrboro. We want to beat East [Chapel Hill]. From that goal, we want to win the county. We want to beat Orange and Cedar Ridge. If we’re able to do that, that’s four wins right there,” Coach Marsh says.

If Chapel Hill finds a way to be crowned town and county champions in 2014, given the tough competition in the area, there promises to be more success at the conference, and maybe even state levels, for Coach Marsh and the Tigers.

Bill Walton Excited For CHHS Basketball Head Coaching Job

The Chapel Hill High boy’s basketball team is introducing a new head coach in the form of Bill Walton. No, he’s not the legendary player from UCLA and the NBA, but this Walton is a 28-year veteran of the game.

***Listen to the story***

Coach Walton, however, recalls a memorable conversation concerning his more famous namesake.

“I reached out to his folks and I said, ‘This is Coach Bill Walton.’ She was like, ‘Really? Coach Bill Walton?’ I said, ‘Really’. She said, ‘Wow. I don’t know about him going over there now. I didn’t know Coach Bill Walton was there at Grimsley.’ I said, ‘Ma’am, I’m not the seven-footer. I’ve got a tan,” Coach Walton says.

But all jokes aside, this Coach Walton is a Virginia boy who grew up in Roanoke and later attended James Madison University. It didn’t take long for Walton to make his way down to North Carolina where he took a job as assistant coach at Greensboro Grimsley in 1989.

In 1992, Walton says a firestorm broke out involving the head coach and a black student in a P.E. class. But Walton is proud of how the team responded from the incident.

“He was accused of choking and assaulting a kid in his P.E. class. He happened to be black. You can only imagine in a city like Greensboro – all the complexities of that case. It was a trying time for everybody. I got the team and community together and had a terrific season,” Coach Walton says.

That was how Walton first assumed a head coaching position. He stayed at Grimsley until 2002, spent a few years at Southwest Guilford and then wound up at Reidsville High, located in the hometown of his wife, where he went 145-72 including a 26-4 season and a run to the NCHSAA 2A East Region Finals in 2012.

For health reasons, citing tension headaches, Coach Walton says he was advised to step aside by the Reidsville principal. He reluctantly obliged, but says he is not taking any medications for the headaches.

“When you’ve been around as long as I have, you just stick with it. You tell your kids that. You finish what you start. I talked about it with my family. I didn’t want to be a distraction to the kids. So reluctantly, I stepped aside,” Coach Walton says.

Coach Walton says the Chapel Hill job was at the top of his prospect list due to the attractive community and the plethora of basketball camps and facilities located in the region known nationwide for its high level basketball at all levels.

Former Chapel Hill High head coach Lason Perkins was surprisingly let go from his interim position. It was an unpopular decision by many players and assistant coaches.

Coach Walton says he understands the situation, empathizes with Coach Perkins and his staff, but is ready to do his job.

“I have no idea what happened in the process. There was an opening. I applied, interviewed and was offered the job,” Coach Walton says.

In addition, Coach Walton says he’s been reaching out to members of the previous staff to forge friendly relationships.

When asked about the added pressures and expectations of the Chapel Hill job, Coach Walton says he relishes the opportunity ahead and thrives in those situations. In fact, he says he expects a breakout season next year.

“Looking at the roster and the people coming back, I’m looking forward to a really good year – perhaps maybe the best year they’ve had here in five or six years,” Coach Walton says.

And for Tar Heel fans, there’s another perk to having Coach Walton in town stalking the sidelines for the Tigers. He says he plays Carolina-style basketball.

“We’re a lot like Carolina. We run Carolina fast break and we try to diagonally kick the ball up just like you see them do. We do that very well. That’s something we did very well at all the schools I’ve been at. We run the Carolina secondary break – both phases of it. We come to the floor and we’re running ‘Carolina’,” Coach Walton says.

It looks like Coach Walton has come to the right place. If he ever needs any advice on running the “Carolina”, UNC Head Coach Roy Williams will be just down the street.

CHHS Seeks New Boys’ Basketball Coach

Chapel Hill High School may have a new boys’ basketball head coach by next week.

After athletic director and head coach Tod Morgan’s departure, Chapel Hill High was left without a coach and without an AD in the middle of the 2013-2014 school year.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Executive Director for Community Relations, Jeff Nash says that left the administration in need of swift action.

“When this vacancy came open, there was not much time before the start of the season, and there was no athletic director to really lead a coaching search,” Nash says. “So an interim coach was named with the intention of guiding the team through the season, and, while that was happening, a new athletic director would be hired. Upon completion of the season, there would be a more thorough search for a more permanent coach.”

Lason Perkins served as assistant coach under Morgan for four years. He was named interim head coach before the start of the ’13-’14 season. He says he was aware that the position was only an interim role and that a search was going to be conducted.

Nash says being named interim head coach didn’t have any effect on the length of the contract Perkins was given.

“In our district, all of our coaches are hired for only one season at a time,” Nash says. “They are not ongoing contracts; each year is a new contract.”

Nash says the job was posted on the district’s website as well as the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) website, and he says it received many applicants.

Perkins says he applied for the head coach position and made it to the second interview. However, he says he has been informed that he was not offered the position.

Nash says a candidate may be selected in time for the Board of Education to review the new hire by next Thursday’s board meeting.