The Whole Nine Yards

High school football is back and so is Trai Sharp.

The Carrboro High running back, who missed most of the 2013 season due to a knee injury, returned with a vengeance Friday night in piling up 335 yards and four touchdowns as the Jaguars outlasted Cedar Ridge 39-38 in a shootout.

Despite being on the losing side of the ledger, Red Wolves quarterback Peyton Pappas is a ‘Grid Great of the Week’ candidate along with Sharp in rushing for three scores and passing for two more.

Like Sharp, Northwood’s Kadarus Rone also underwent knee surgery in the offseason. Similar to the Jags back, Rone also showed no effects from the procedure in rushing for 94 yards and four scores in the Chargers 65-0 rout of East Chapel Hill.

Find out which one of the three standout performers takes the weekly ‘WCHL/ Grid Great of the Week’ honor Friday night at 6 p.m. on ‘The Grid with Matt & Matt’. Matt Oakes joins Matt Paul to review last week’s action and preview the night’s games.

Hear all the action on The Grid with Matt & Matt

Hear all the action on The Grid with Matt & Matt


One area star who didn’t see action was Orange back Tay Jones. The rusher, settling up academic issues, sat out the Panthers season-opening 27-14 win over Person and should be OK for the remainder of the season according to coach Pat Moser.

The ‘Crush’, as we called them last season due to Orange’s devastating defense that produced four shutouts, still collected three rushing scores in posting a convincing win.

Along with Jones, the top team in the ‘WCHL/ Super Six’ is loaded on both sides of the ball and could enjoy another long playoff run.


Perhaps the toughest team to figure out in 2013 was Chapel Hill. The Tigers nearly posted the upset of the season in toppling Orange before losing on the last play of the game. Chapel Hill, which squeaked into the playoffs, also struggled in barely toppling upstart Cedar Ridge.

The Tigers were ready from the opening whistle in their opener, however, crushing Riverside 45-21. Andrew Gillespie raced 90 yards on an interception return for a touchdown and Lonnie Baldwin tacked on a three-yard score.

Chapel Hill could well move to 2-0 when it takes on South Granville, which is coming off a 34-0 blanking by Rocky Mount.


We picked a heckuva’ game to air with last week’s Carrboro-Cedar Ridge shootout on and we’ll double the fun Friday with twice the action.

Orange travels to Northern Durham for our game of the week, while Carrboro heads to East Chapel Hill for our lone Chapelboro Cup contest on WCHL. Like the Jaguars, the Panthers also face a squad coming off a blowout loss, as the Knights fell to Southeast Guilford, 30-0.

The games kick off at 7 p.m. following ‘The Grid with Matt & Matt’.

Matt Paul can be contacted via Twitter @mattauge or and message Matt Oakes via Twitter @moakes3 or by email at .

The Grid: Week 1

Week one of high school football on WCHL begins with a bang with an exciting matchup pitting two local schools as the Cedar Ridge Red Wolves travel over to Carrboro to take on the Jaguars.

Both squads struggled to find their form a year ago, but armed with new head coaches, the slate is clean and both teams will be hungry to open with a win in the fresh 2014 season.

The game will be broadcast exclusively on Jeff Hamlin will have the call for you Friday at 7 p.m. live from Carrboro High School.

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, a selection of The Grid Great of the Week, as well as the unveiling of our WCHL/Chapelboro Super Six rankings.

HS Football Returns with ‘The Grid with Matt & Matt’

WCHL is gearing up for another exciting season of ‘The Grid with Matt & Matt’, the radio station’s weekly high school football show.

The program, hosted by WCHL sports reporter and on-air personality Matt Oakes and sportswriter Matt Paul, will air exclusively on the station at 6:30 pm (and occasionally 6 pm due to other programming) and get you set for the live feature game broadcasts to follow with our Championship Sports team.

It’s the second year the duo will host the show, and the first year they will do so from the beginning of the season, which has them both excited.

“We’re known as the Tar Heels station,” Oakes says, who also covers UNC athletics for WCHL and its companion website “But we know covering high school sports, especially football and basketball, is important to our local communities as well. We can’t wait for another exciting season showcasing our outstanding area schools.”

Oakes, who has been with the station for the last 16 months, is a 2013 graduate of UNC and formerly the Managing Editor at Olympia Media Group. In his extra time, Oakes serves as a tennis instructor at RDU Tennis, regularly runs the American Tobacco Trail, and enjoys contributing his vocal talents to not only the radio, but also as a member of Vox Virorum Men’s Chorus of the Triangle and Heart of Carolina Chorus.

Matt Oakes

Matt Oakes

Paul, who has covered high school and college sports nationally for USA Today and locally for publications like Long Island’s Newsday and the News & Observer, is pleased to team up with Oakes again.

“We’re both low-ego guys who just love sports and want the spotlight shining where it belongs … on the area coaches and their players,” said Paul, who also helps sports programs raise funds through “It may not happen, but we want all the area teams to excel.”

Matt Paul

Matt Paul

Orange and Northwood certainly had their moments of excellence last season, while highly competitive Chapel Hill also eked its way into the playoffs. East Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Cedar Ridge are the other schools comprising the race for the Chapelboro Cup.

The trophy, which will be awarded to the top team in the area, should raise the level of excitement for the coming season to another level, according to WCHL news and sports director Ran Northam.

Tune in to all the high school gridiron excitement on ‘The Grid with Matt & Matt’ each Friday night with exclusive interviews of all your favorite area coaches, game breakdowns, analysis and predictions, the unveiling of our WCHL/Chapelboro Super Six power rankings and the announcement of our Grid Great of the Week.

Matt Paul can be reached on Twitter at @mattauge, while Matt Oakes can be contacted at @moakes3.

The Grid: Carrboro High Jaguars

We wrap up our weekly preseason high school football series with a trip up over to Carrboro High School. The Jaguars struggled to a 4-7 finish last season. But now, a new era begins for Jaguar football with Jason Tudryn’s departure for UNC and longtime defensive coordinator Melvin Griffin stepping in to take the reins.

***Listen to the story***

A year after a 15-1 season that ended with a state runner-up finish, the Jaguars failed to replicate any of that kind of championship magic in 2013.

Coach Griffin, who assumed the head coaching duties in June, will have his hands full getting the Jaguars back to the top of the 2A Mid-State conference this fall.

Coach Griffin had been working with the former Carrboro skipper Tudryn since 2007. But Coach Griffin says their connection goes back even further, to their days playing college football.

“It was great to work under Coach Tudryn. We realized through our conversations in the summer of ’07 that we played against each other while he was at UMass and I was at William & Mary in the Yankee conference. He gave me full control of the defense,” Coach Griffin says.

The coaching duo grew close on and off the field. Coach Griffin says his former boss helped him improve as a game planner.

“We worked together for the past seven years. Our families have grown close. Our kids have grown up together. I learned a lot from Coach Tudryn about studying films and practice plans,” Coach Griffin says.

Coach Griffin says offseason workouts have garnered impressive attendance. But he says the offensive and defensive line depth remains an issue heading into Friday night’s scrimmage just a week out from the regular season opener against Cedar Ridge.

“We had great attendance. Things are going smoothly. We’re trying to replace our entire defensive and offensive lines. That’s where we’ve been slow. But we’re getting ready for our scrimmage,” Coach Griffin says.

Former head coach Jason Tudryn with players (N&O)

Former head coach Jason Tudryn with players (N&O)

What is Coach Griffin specifically looking for in the final days of preparation? For starters, he says he’s most excited about the talent and skill returning at the perimeter positions.

“We’re looking for our perimeter skill guys to compete. We have a lot of talent coming back on the perimeter. They gained a lot of experience last year playing as freshmen and sophomores due to the injuries we had,” Coach Griffin says.

The quarterback position is up for grabs at Carrboro due to an injury incurred during basketball season that opened up a signal caller showdown between two unproven seniors.

In addition to identifying a starter there, Coach Griffin says he’s stressing the importance of their protection, and that must come from the offensive linemen.

“All in all, we know the young offensive line is going to make mistakes. What we’re really looking for is for the linemen to be aggressive and fire off the ball,” Coach Griffin says.

Coach Griffin’s Jaguars face a daunting early nonconference schedule that includes competitive 3A and 4A squads. But he says he relishes the challenge and thinks it will help his team for conference play down the line.

“It helps us out a lot. We’ll see multiple formations and different styles. Northwood has a lot of talent coming back. Chapel Hill is up-and-coming this year. We do have a challenging non-conference schedule that will help us prepare,” Coach Griffin says.

As far as what will constitute a successful year for Carrboro, Coach Griffin is keeping it short and simple.

“A successful year is a return trip to the playoffs. Once we get into the playoffs, we’ll let the chips fall where they may, but we’re really looking forward to a return trip to the playoffs,” Coach Griffin says.

NHS’s Bill Hall To Call Step Aside After One More Season

Northwood High School football head coach Bill Hall says he’s only got one season left in him.

According to the News and Observer, Hall says he’s “tired of being tired”. He says since the job has become a year-round position, he can’t justify the amount of money he makes with the amount of time he puts into it. Therefore, he says he’ll make this upcoming season his last.

Hall has led the Chargers for 15 years and has been at the school for 27 years.

Northwood finished last season 8-4, 4-3 in the 3A Big Eight conference. The Chargers were knocked out of the first round of the NCSHAA state championship tournament in the first round by Eastern Alamance.

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.

WCHL To Broadcast Chapel Hill Girls’ Basketball Season Finale

CHAPEL HILL – The Chapel Hill High School girls’ basketball team has already recorded its best record in school history, and WCHL will be there to broadcast what could be the cap on its undefeated regular season.

2013-2014 Tigers (Photo courtesy of Chapel Hill High School)

2013-2014 Tigers (Photo courtesy of Chapel Hill High School)

“Sherry Norris has another great team, and we’re very excited to usher in the postseason with the Tigers’ final regular season game on our airwaves,” says Ran Northam, WCHL’s News and Sports Director and the play-by-play announcer for high school basketball.

“This team is a very special group of girls,” CHHS girls’ basketball head coach Sherry Norris says. “They had an outstanding year last year, losing in the state championship game, but I think we took a lot from that loss, and the girls matured a lot in a year’s time.”

This is the second meeting of the season between the Tigers and Crusaders. It will also determine whether or not Chapel Hill takes the outright regular season Big-Eight championship. The Tigers hold a one-game lead over the Crusaders.

“This game against Cardinal Gibbons should be a good game,” Norris says.

In addition, WCHL will announce some exciting news about the 2014 football season during the broadcast.

It all begins Friday night at 6:30 p.m. with WCHL Gameday live from Chapel Hill High School. Tune in on 97.9 FM and streaming live online here.

Football ‘Mercy Rule’ On The Table in Spring NCHSAA Meeting

CHAPEL HILL–North Carolina high school football will likely implement an official ‘mercy rule’ for the 2014 season.

But the N.C. High School Athletic Association board of directors will get input from the football coaches association before anything is finalized.

As of now, coaches can agree to end a game early or use a running clock if a game gets too lopsided.

The recommendation was that whenever the point differential exceeds 42 by halftime or at any point in the second half, a running clock would be instituted or the game would be ended altogether by mutual agreement.

The recommendation will be formally proposed at the NCHSAA board of director’s spring meeting.

NCHSAA commissioner Davis Whitfield says the coaches of the winners of the blowout contests voiced the most concern.

“In many senses, the winning team was looked at negatively because it felt like they were continuing to run the score up, when in actuality it was the other team that didn’t want to do that,” Whitfield says.

The Grid with Matt & Matt: Playoffs-Round Two

CHAPEL HILL–  The hunt for the high school football state championship rolls on Friday night with the second round of the playoffs. Postseason play leaves no room for error and 11-1 Orange High School looks to stay alive when they face Cleveland.

Tune in to the 11-1 Orange “Crush” Panthers as they attempt to set up a rematch with Southern Durham, the team that spoiled their run at an undefeated regular season a couple weeks ago. Head Coach Pat Moser’s squad will be traveling to take on a worthy opponent in 9-3 Cleveland. Orange will need their stingy defense to slow down the Ram attack.

Tune in to coverage from Clayton with Paul Connell and Jeff Hamlin Friday at 7 p.m. on 97. 9 FM, WCHL and streaming live on

And don’t forget, Friday at 6:30 p.m., WCHL’s lively duo of Matt Oakes and Matt Paul wil have your pregame show. They’ll be breaking down the big game, sitting down with the head coaches of many of your favorite teams, releasing WCHL/’s Super Six rankings, making some bold predictions, and unveiling The Grid Great of the Week. And this week, Matt & Matt will be selecting their Play of the 2013 Regular Season.

You can catch up on the entire season of The Grid with Matt & Matt by clicking here.

This Friday, Matt and Matt will chat with Orange’s Pat Moser and Northwood’s Bill Hall.

Opinion: The Whole Nine Yards

PURE PREMIUM ORANGE:  It’s disappointing but probably appropriate that Orange is the lone remaining squad from our area to still be in the state high school football playoffs.

Despite a tough regular season finale loss at Southern Durham, Orange is a premier program in the entire region. The Panthers, whom we re-dubbed the ‘Crush’ as an homage to the John Elway/Tom Jackson Broncos of the past and this team’s awesome defense, moved on to the second round with a 31-3 win over Rocky Mount.

Orange lived up to its billing, collecting five sacks in yet another stellar defensive effort.

The ‘Crush’ will take on a tough Cleveland squad in round two. Cleveland thumped Gray’s Creek 33-13. Isaac Martin ran for 117 yards and three scores while Aaron Farmer threw for 114 yards and ran for 109 more to lead the victors.

DOWN AND OUT: Chapel Hill was thumped by Southern Durham 40-6 and Pittsboro fell to Eastern Alamance in a 56-21 rout, capping both their seasons.

Brandon Wendel, a WCHL/ ‘Grid Great of the Week’ during the regular season, opened the scoring with a four-yard touchdown run but the Spartans rolled from there behind quarterback Kendall Hinton’s 67-yard scamper. The senior amassed 352 yards of total offense – 181 passing, 171 rushing – and two touchdowns.

The Chargers were never in their road contest, as Bill Hall’s troops fell behind 35-0 at the half. Malcolm Summers had three touchdowns – 40- and 50-yard rushing plays and a 73-yard pass reception for the winners, who travel to nemesis Western Alamance tonight.

‘MATT & MATT’ ROLL ON: Matt Oakes and I will recap all three playoff tilts, interview an area coach or two and select our WCHL/ ‘Grid Great Of The Week’ Friday night at 6p on our weekly show. If time allows, which lately is has not in our jam-packed show, we’ll also run down our ‘Super Six’ poll of area teams.

Last week, Orange proved it’s a worthy No. 1 with the area’s lone playoff win, while No. 2 and No. 3 Northwood and Chapel Hill bowed out in the opening round. The Chargers still had an impressive campaign, while the Tigers competed in several games but failed to pull out a significant win.

No. 4 Carrboro opened the season 3-0, including a win over Chapel Hill, but floundered in dropping seven of eight. No. 5 East Chapel Hill and No. 6 Cedar Ridge capped their regular seasons with improved play but they are where they are in the poll for a reason.