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 Chapelboro.com. “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 onlinedonations.com. “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.


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 (Carolinapreps.net)

Isaac Marsh (Carolinapreps.net)

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.


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 Chapelboro.com.

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/Chapelboro.com’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/Chapelboro.com ‘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/Chapelboro.com ‘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.


The Grid w/ Matt & Matt: Playoffs-Round 1

CHAPEL HILL– The brackets are set. And the hunt for the state championship begins Friday night with the first round of the playoffs. Postseason play leaves no room for error as three of our area schools face elimination.

On Chapelboro.com at 7 p.m., tune in to the 10-1 Orange “Crush” Panthers as they attempt to rebound from that stunning loss at Southern Durham last week. Head Coach Pat Moser’s squad will be hosting a worthy opponent in Rocky Mount. Orange will need their stingy defense to reemerge to make a deep push into the tournament.

Will the Panthers be able to shut down the Rocky Mount attack and advance to the second round of the playoffs? You won’t want to miss any of the action.

Tune in to coverage from Hillsborough with Jeff Hamlin Friday at 7 p.m. exclusively on Chapelboro.com.

In the other feature game of the night, Chapel Hill will head over to Southern Durham to take on the high-flying attack of the 9-2 conference champion Spartans. The Chapel Hill Tigers are a much more formidable team than their 4-7 record suggests so this one could be a competitive affair.

Tune in to coverage from Durham with Paul Connell Friday at 7 p.m. exclusively on Chapelboro.com.

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.com’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 by clicking here.

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



Opinion: The Whole Nine Yards

AT A LOSS: The area’s top two teams, No. 1 Orange and No. 2 Northwood head into the playoffs with a bad taste in their respective mouths. The Panthers squandered an opportunity to finish with their first perfect regular season in 50 years, falling to Southern Durham in a 55-41 shootout.

Northwood, meanwhile, lost a shot at gaining a home playoff opener with its 55-14 rout at the hands of Cardinal Gibbons. The Chargers secondary, which has been spotty at times this season, struggled containing quarterback Sean Stankavage, who led his team into the postseason by passing for seven touchdowns.

Orange still earned a first-round playoff game at home vs. Rocky Mount, whom the ‘Crush’ should handle. Northwood hits the road to take on Eastern Alamance, which boasts an identical 8-3 mark as the Chargers.
FOUR SCORE: Chapel Hill came within a play or two of recording big wins over Orange and/or Northwood, but with Friday’s 30-28 conquest of an improving Cedar Ridge program the Tigers still made the playoffs.
Chapel Hill, among a few 4-7 teams to gain an at-large playoff berth, travels to Durham to face a powerhouse Southern squad. The Tigers have displayed offensive fireworks at times this season and staunch defensive play at others. They’ll need both sides of the ball to be nearly perfect, however, to pull off an upset Friday.
PESKY POLL: Despite losses by teams at the top of the WCHL/Chapelboro.com ‘Super Six’ and better play by programs at the bottom it isn’t likely much upheaval will take place with No. 1 Orange and No. 2 Northwood leading the way. Chapel Hill is a solid No. 3, as well.
No. 4 Carrboro, despite falling apart with losses in seven of their last eight games, still chalked up early-season wins over Chapel Hill and East Chapel Hill in a 3-0 start. That seems like ages ago, right? And how the heck did the Jaguars beat the Tigers anyway?
No. 5 East Chapel Hill, which defeated Jordan Durham 14-7 and No. 6 Cedar Ridge deserve credit for finishing the regular season with improved play, but they could be stuck at the bottom of the poll.
Find out for sure as Matt Oakes and Matt Paul review the week’s action and preview the playoff picture Friday night on “The Grid With Matt & Matt”. The show airs at 6pm on WCHL 97.9 FM with a listener link available on chapelboro.com.

HS Football Roundup: Southern Durham Spoils Orange’s Perfection, Chapel Hill Claims Cedar Ridge Win

DURHAM– All eyes were fixed on Southern Durham for Orange High School’s visit in pursuit of an undefeated season. The Panthers had dominated play all season long.

But it was not to be on this night, as Southern Durham posted an incredible 55 points on the vaunted Panther defense to pull off the 55-41 upset victory and spoil Head Coach Pat Moser’s pursuit of perfection and in the process, claim the conference title with a perfect 7-0 record in league play.

Orange fell to 10-1 on the season while Southern Durham moved to 9-2 in 2013. Now, both squads will turn their attention to the playoffs in hopes of hoisting a state championship trophy.

In other area action, Chapel Hill squeaked by Cedar Ridge 30-28 to finish the year at 4-7. East Chapel finished the year on a high note with a 14-7 victory over Jordan. And in a surprising score line, Northwood was throttled by Cardinal Gibbons 55-14.



The Grid w/ Matt & Matt: Week 12

CHAPEL HILL– It’s the final week of high school gridiron action of the regular season. Postseason play begins next week. A few intriguing local showdowns certainly have the potential to light up your Friday night, but none more so than the Orange Panthers’ drive to perfection against Southern Durham.

On Chapelboro.com at 7 p.m., tune in to the undefeated Orange “Crush” Panthers as they attempt to put the finishing touches on the season with yet another victory. This week, Head Coach Pat Moser’s squad faces a formidable opponent in the form of the 8-2 Spartans of Southern Durham.

Last week, Orange pulled away from perennial powerhouse Cardinal Gibbons 49-28 and Southern Durham throttled Webb 56-7.

Will the Panthers be able to shut down the high-flying attack of the Spartans and cap off the undefeated year? You won’t want to miss history being made.

Tune in to pregame coverage from Durham with Paul Connell Friday at 6:30 p.m on 97. 9 FM, WCHL.

Exclusively on Chapelboro.com, you can catch the live game coverage of the showdown starting at 7 p.m.

But there is plenty of other area action including Cedar Ridge at Chapel Hill and Northwood traveling to face Cardinal Gibbons in Raleigh.

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 by clicking here.

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


OPINION: The Whole Nine Yards

VERY GOOD NORTHWOOD: The Northwood Chargers aren’t great this season, that distinction in our area only belongs to unbeaten Orange, but what they are is very good … and tough! The 8-2 Chargers proved that again Friday night in pulling out a 31-24 overtime win over a game Chapel Hill squad.

Kadarus Rone continued his clutch play by scoring on a two-yard run in the extra session and Northwood’s defense stopped the Tigers on their possession to post the win. As important as Rone’s play was, and he may be the team’s MVP on the season, the Chargers defense proved it can make a key stop when it has to.

Led by Hunter Blackmon, who had 12 tackles in the win over the Tigers, defense will be critical in the team’s regular season finale at Cardinal Gibbons and into the postseason, should the Chargers gain a berth.

ORANGE PUTS SQUEEZE ON: Orange also knows what its like to be tested by Chapel Hill, being just one late touchdown pass away from also going to overtime vs. the Tigers.

The Panthers, aka ‘Crush’ is back to their previous form since that 6-0 win two weeks ago. Orange followed up a 56-7 thrashing of Webb with an impressive 49-28 win over a very good Cardinal Gibbons team Friday to improve to 10-0.

Orange probably won’t blank Southern Durham either on the road this week, but the Panthers have proven they know how to win shootouts as well.

MUDDLE IN MIDDLE: It’s been a muddle in the middle and a battle at the bottom of the WCHL/Chapelboro.com ‘Super Six’. The top two teams in the poll, Orange and Northwood are quite solid in their respective positions.

However, from there things get a little strange with a 3-7 Chapel Hill team at No. 3 and a disappointing Carrboro club lagging at No. 4. East Chapel Hill at No. 5 and No. 6 Cedar Ridge now have two wins on their respective slates and will probably hold steady with the latter taking on Chapel Hill in the regular season finale.

We ran out of time to announce the ‘Super Six’ in Friday’s “The Grid with Matt & Matt”, but WCHL Radio’s high school football preview show was still packed with reviews and previews/predictions segments and our ‘Grid Great of the Week’. Tune in at 6pm to listen in to Matt Oakes and Matt Paul as part of the station’s championship sports coverage!