Scouting Report: A Chat with Liberty Coach Turner Gill

WCHL’s Matt Oakes had the chance to chat with the head coach of the Liberty Flames, Turner Gill. The two discussed the defending Big South champions’ preseason preparations, the progression of junior quarterback Josh Woodrum, the running back situation, how to prepare for facing the up-tempo UNC offense, and of course, the keys to Saturday’s contest between the Tar Heels and Flames on Saturday.

***Listen to the interview***

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.

Huddle Up: 68 & 16

Photo courtesy of US Presswire

Photo courtesy of US Presswire

CHAPEL HILL—68 points. 16 years. These are two notorious statistics sticking in many Tar Heel minds this week. Let’s be honest, Carolina no doubt wishes these numbers weren’t flying around like popcorn at a movie theater on Friday night. Bu they are.

And who can blame Carolina for using these troubling digits as fodder for motivation? The ACC opener on the road against Georgia Tech could very well be a must-win for the Tar Heels, though Coach Fedora stops short of labeling it one.

And if UNC wants to emerge victorious on Saturday, the team will have to shrug off the dreaded 68 and 16.

68: Last year’s tally for Georgia Tech against the Tar Heels. The Yellow Jackets came to town and completely dismantled the Tar Heel defense in an effort that was so demoralizing that most of the Carolina fans could barely hold down their lunches. What was worse, quarterback Bryn Renner and company put up an impressive 50 points on the scoreboard, a number that should always be good enough to walk out a winner, but not on this regrettable day.

16: The years gone by since the Tar Heels last got out of Atlanta with a win over Georgia Tech. This one is hard to fathom, but true. The venue in downtown Atlanta is an underrated tough place to play. Renner said as much to the media on Monday. Couple that with the fact that Head Coach Paul Johnson’s squad is a tough out for any team given their tricky triple option attack, and you have somewhat of an explanation as to the disastrous slide on the road in this series.

Let’s not forget that the Tar Heels had an even more severe road losing streak versus the Virginia Cavaliers, deemed the “Charlottesville Curse,” before snapping that one in 2010.

Here’s hoping a determined, focused UNC squad puts a stop to this streak on Saturday and in doing so, stays atop the Coastal Division title chase.

Carolina Strategy: We’ll Kick Twice?

CHAPEL HILL— “That was our strategy going into the game. We felt like if we kicked off twice to them, it would help them out. We wanted to see if we could get more time with the defense on the field.”

Those were UNC Head Football Coach Larry Fedora’s words after the home opening win on Saturday. All jokes aside, Coach Fedora was livid at the inexplicable predicament the Tar Heels found themselves in on a gorgeous day in Kenan Stadium underneath picturesque Carolina blue skies.

Yes, Carolina booted the ball away to the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State at the start of both halves of football. I guess the captains were just in a charitable mood. The idyllic weather must have gotten to them or something.

But how did Coach Fedora really feel about the miscommunication? He didn’t like it one bit. He said Ron Cherry, the head official for the game, “was looking at him like an idiot” following the gaffe.

In fact, Coach Fedora said he wasn’t even interested in an explanation from his players. He didn’t let them get any words in.

“I wasn’t really happy, and I didn’t really listen to what they were telling me,” Coach Fedora said.

But the error was really a microcosm of the situation the Tar Heel football team currently finds themselves in. Coach Fedora says the little mistakes are what can turn into big things.

Anyone remember T.J. Thorpe’s untimely fumble on the kickoff against South Carolina?

If UNC really wants to compete at the highest level, these things can’t happen. Yes, we can laugh at it now following the victory, but if the Tar Heels were facing say a Georgia Tech team down in Atlanta that kind of botch could very well cost them the win.

How would you like to give that triple option offense the chance to open proceedings each time out of the locker room?

And oh yeah, that’s right. Coach Fedora’s boys do make the trek down to Hotlanta to face the Jackets here in a couple weeks time. I’d say it’s time to clean their act up, wouldn’t you?