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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 Chapelboro.com, 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 Chapelboro.com 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: Northwood High Chargers

We continue our weekly preseason high school football series with a trip out to Pittsboro to check in on the Northwood Chargers. In their first season at the 3A level, the Chargers competed admirably, but Head coach Bill Hall is aiming for more in 2014.

***Listen to the story***

An 8-4 final record in 2013 may be acceptable to some high school football programs, but for Northwood, that winning tally is not enough.

The Chargers are used to making postseason pushes. Last season, the Chargers were dismissed in the first round of the state tournament by the Eastern Alamance Eagles.

Understandably, Coach Hall says the team is motivated to make amends for last season’s disappointments.

“We definitely didn’t finish up where we would have like to. Losing our last two […] left a bad taste in our mouth. We’ve worked hard to try to improve this year,” Coach Hall says.

Although he wished for a bigger turnout in offseason training, Coach Hall says he was pleased with the strides made in two weakness areas for the Chargers.

Northwood chargers

“Offseason workouts have gone pretty well. We always want more numbers there than we’ve got. The key people have been there. We’ve really been working with our offensive line and our defensive secondary. Those were our two not so bright spots last year. We focused in on that,” Coach Hall says.

The strength of the Charger attack is no doubt on the offensive side of the ball. Northwood lit up the scoreboard a season ago with a lethal aerial assault led by prolific quarterback Ty Pinnix. Coach Hall says he’ll be an even more dangerous leader this year.

“We’ve got to start off with our team MVP Ty Pinnix. He threw for over 4,000 yards last year and rushed for another 800. His potential is unlimited. Hopefully, he can continue where he left off last year and out up some big numbers for us,” Coach Hall says.

Pinnix in action (Herald Sun)

Pinnix in action (Herald Sun)

A popular target for Pinnix in 2014 will be athletic wide receiver Jalen Smith. Coach Hall says he’s expecting big things from Smith, who has been receiving preseason hype from around the state.

“N.C. Preps 3A All-State came out and our receiver, Jalen Smith, was one of the players who made that team. I’m really excited for Jalen. He’s another one you need to keep an eye on. He set school records last year for season and career yardage and catches,” Coach Hall says.

As for the other side of the ball, Coach Hall expects a dramatic improvement from last season. He believes the defense won’t be so much of a liability, therefore taking some pressure off the Charger offense. But Coach Hall still insists his team will need to score its fair share of touchdowns to contend in the loaded 3A Big Eight conference.

“I think the defense is coming along. But we’re going to have to score points in this conference. If there’s a better 3A conference in the state, I’d like to see it. We’re going to have to score some points, but I really don’t think we’re going to get in the shootouts we did last year. Our defense is going to be improved,” Coach Hall says

Coach Hall is hoping the hard work put in over the spring and summer will pay off for his boys, adding the seniors have got together and planned big goals for the fall.

“We’re looking for bigger and better things this year. We have a returning senior’s cookout every year in June. The guys get together, set some goals, and they put it down on paper. There are some lofty goals on that paper. We’ve worked hard to try to achieve some of them. We’ll see where that takes us,” Coach Hall says.

If the struggling defense can approach the level of the explosive offense, the Northwood seniors may be well on their way to crossing off some of those goals on that piece of paper.


HS Football Roundup: Orange Marches On While CH, Northwood Bow Out

DURHAM– Round one of the state playoffs in high school football featured some intriguing match-ups involving three local schools.

Chapel Hill’s season came to an end with a 40-6 loss at Southern Durham. Somehow, the Tigers found a way to slip into the playoffs with a 4-7 record, but the 9-2 Spartans were too much for them on this night.

With the victory, Southern Durham improved to 10-2 on the year and moved on to the second round of the tournament where they will face a daunting challenge against Cardinal Gibbons.

Meanwhile over in Hillsborough, the 10-1 Orange Panthers were busy shutting down 8-3 Rocky Mount in a 31-3 decision.

The vaunted Panther defense reappeared Friday night after a hiatus against Southern Durham a week ago. Running back Tay Jones recorded a 26-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.

Next up, Head Coach Pat Moser’s squad will take on 9-3 Cleveland in the second round.

If both Orange and Southern Durham win their games next week, they will meet for an anticipated rematch of their regular season finale that saw the Spartans spoil Orange’s run at an undefeated season.

Not to be forgotten, the Northwood Chargers were in playoff action Friday night as well. Things didn’t go too well for Head Coach Bill Hall’s team as they fell 56-21 on the road at Eastern Alamance.

Northwood tailback Kadarus Rone fumbled the ball away early on in the first quarter. The turnover resulted in a score for the Eagles, and Eastern Alamance never looked back from there as they lit up the scoreboard to advance.



The Grid w/ Matt & Matt: Week 11

CHAPEL HILL– Believe it or not, week eleven of high school gridiron action is upon us. And it will feature some intriguing local showdowns that will certainly light up your Friday night.

On 97.9 FM WCHL and Chapelboro.com at 7 p.m., tune in to the undefeated Orange “Crush” Panthers as they continue their drive toward perfection. This week, Head Coach Pat Moser’s squad welcomes a formidable opponent in the form of the 7-2 Crusaders of Cardinal Gibbons.

Last week, Orange throttled struggling Webb 56-7 and Cardinal Gibbons survived improving Chapel Hill 47-36.

Will the Panthers be able to shut down the Crusader attack and move to 10-0 on the year? You won’t want to miss this one.

Tune in to pregame and live game coverage from Orange High School with Paul Connell Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Exclusively on Chapelboro.com, you can catch the 7-2 Northwood Chargers as they look to keep things rolling home against the Chapel Hill Tigers. Chapel Hill has proven to be a tough out in their past two games against powerhouses Orange and Cardinal Gibbons.

What do the Tigers have left for Coach Bill Hall’s high-flying Chargers?

Tune in to pregame coverage and live game play-by-play streaming on our website, Chapelboro.com. Jeff Hamlin will have the call from Pittsboro.

And don’t forget, each Friday at 6 p.m., WCHL’s lively duo of Matt Oakes and Matt Paul will be breaking down all the big games, sitting down with the head coaches of many of your favorite teams, releasing WCHL/Chapelboro’s Super Six rankings, making some bold predictions, and unveiling The Grid Great of the Week.

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

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



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 Chapelboro.com 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/Chapelboro.com ‘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/Chapelboro.com 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 Chapelboro.com, 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 Chapelboro.com, 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, Chapelboro.com.

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, Chapelboro.com.


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 Chapelboro.com. 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 Chapelboro.com 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.


Chargers Atop Chapelboro’s ‘Super Six’

CHAPEL HILL – Pittsboro-Northwood may not have hit the football field for a game, but it was still a smashing week for the Chargers.

Northwood, which had a bye week, moved to the top of the WCHL/Chapelboro.com ‘Super Six’ area high school football poll after crushing Carrboro, 41-19 on the road last Friday.
The poll was released on the radio station’s weekly high school football program ‘The Grid with Matt and Matt’, which airs Friday evenings just prior to WCHL’s Game of the Week.
Northwood, which toppled the previous No. 1 squad, added to its impressive resume this season which includes wins over Chatham County rival Jordan-Matthews, East Chapel Hill and Southern Lee.
Carrboro, which fell to No. 3 following the loss to the Chargers was passed in the poll by a perfect 4-0 Orange squad, now No. 2 despite coming off a bye week. Carrboro failed to bounce back in a painful 43-0 rout at the hands of South Granville.
No. 4 Chapel Hill posted an impressive 26-7 win over area rival and No. 5 East Chapel Hill, while No. 6 Cedar Ridge had a bye week as it looks to bounce back from a disappointing 0-4 start.
Northwood also enjoyed the spoils of the first WCHL/Chapelboro.com ‘Grid Great of the Week’ honoree in quarterback Ty Pinnix.
The junior signal-caller passed for 314 yards and five touchdowns in the win over Carrboro, marking his second five-TD game of the season for the Chargers, who gear up for a home showdown vs. Orange Friday night in Pittsboro.