Up & Coming Weekly

September 19, 2017

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 28 of 100

28 UCW SEPTEMBER 20 - 26, 2017 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM During her days as a cheerleader at Terry Sanford, Keely Warren has memories of being on the sidelines on wet Friday nights, cheering at one of the dirt tracks that surround the majority of senior high football fields in Cumberland County. They're not pleasant. "When there's mud on the track, that kind of messes things up for you,'' said Warren, who went on to cheer at East Carolina and served one season as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes Storm Squad. Complicating the problem was the frequent use by schools of golf carts and other small vehicles to deliver various equipment to the sidelines. "They would leave huge divots in the track,'' she said. "That's a safety precaution for us.'' It's still a worry for Warren, who teaches English at Cape Fear High School and assists head coach Michelle Johnson working with the school's cheerleaders. "I don't want my girls to be at risk in those spots of a rolled ankle,'' Warren said. Another problem is the large mats the cheerlead- ers drag out to the track for football games. "They're expensive and already getting dirty with the sand,'' she said. "I didn't want to deal with a wet, stinky, muddy mat.'' Woes of the cheerleaders are just another reason county high school athletic officials would love to get their tracks fitted with rub- berized surfaces. Currently only three county tracks are equipped that way: Pine Forest, Reid Ross Classical School and New Century Middle School. South View has a paved track while the other senior highs are still dirt. The problem is the money to make it happen is hard to come by. Vernon Aldridge, student activities director for the Cumberland County Schools, said the cost of a rubberized track is from $150,000 to $200,000. About 10 years ago, the budget for capital improve- ments for the county schools was slashed from $9 mil- lion to $3 million annually. "We haven't gotten anymore money from the state,'' Aldridge said. "As far as athletic capital outlay, I get $75,000 a year for 24 schools. That doesn't go far.'' Schools have to look elsewhere for the money, and unless they catch a break like Cape Fear did, paying for a new track is tough. Matt McLean, Cape Fear athletic director, said the school will soon start construction on its track thanks to a couple of generous donors. Over the past year, Cape Fear got separate $75,000 donations from the Rachel Horn and Grayson F. Bean fund and the Billy and Faye Horne fund, McLean said. That money was used to upgrade the school's weight room and will pay to start the work on the track at Cape Fear, with McLean hopeful the school can get additional funding next year. McLean said a track is essential to the total school program as it is used in physical education classes as well as for competition and offering people in the community a place to walk and run. "Being able to have (the surfaced track) for students and teachers is important,'' McLean said. "It's a classroom.'' Aldridge and McLean said city and county government officials have talked with the schools and are willing to explore options for trying to make surfaced tracks at all the schools happen, but so far no one's found an answer. "Right now we don't have the funds,'' Aldridge said. Which means Warren and her cheerleaders will be seeing more mud puddles and divots in the near future. "I don't think we should second-guess something that would be a safer alternative,'' Warren said. Cumberland County High Schools Need Rubberized Tracks by EARL VAUGHAN JR. HIGH SCHOOL HIGHLIGHTS Coach Randolph Leads a Comeback for the Bucs by EARL VAUGHAN JR. Two games into his first season as head football coach at Jack Britt High School, Brian Randolph was search- ing for answers. The Buccaneers started 0-2 and were sputtering offensively, with one touchdown in two games. They were moving the ball but couldn't seem to find the end zone. So Randolph tried a trick in practice after the loss to Terry Sanford. "We put a big emphasis on finish- ing,'' Randolph said. "We started everything from the 20-yard-line going in. Every time you touched the ball you had to score.'' It apparently worked. In the next game against Gray's Creek, the Buccaneers hit a num- ber of big plays early and rolled to their biggest offen- sive output of the season, a 41-12 win. "That motivated us to finish drives,'' Randolph said. A week later against Southern Lee, Britt used its new confidence to rally from a 10-point deficit against the Cavaliers and pull away for a 38-24 win. "We came into the third quarter and kicked off to the end zone, got a touchback and a safety in two plays, then on the first offensive play we scored,'' Randolph said. "Those guys showed me and the other coaches they want to win and are not accepting defeat, which is always a great thing,'' he said. Britt had an open date last week, and it couldn't have come at a better time. It gave the team a chance to savor its two-game win streak and begin to focus on the start of conference play in the tough Sandhills Athletic Conference. Britt's respite will be short-lived as the Buccaneers return to play Friday at home against their former coach, Richard Bailey and his Scotland team that was the preseason choice to win the conference. Two players Randolph will be counting on heav- ily against the Scots are center Marcus Sanders- Johnson and linebacker Erick Martinez. Sanders-Johnson may seem undersized for the position at 5-feet-9 and 215 pounds. "He's one of the strongest and most aggressive players we have,'' Randolph said. "He has eight pancake blocks. He's an awesome player and leader on our team.'' "We've definitely picked it up in practice,'' Sanders-Johnson said. "We're working hard, grinding and stuff.'' He added it's been a boost around school when classmates tell the players they're doing a good job. "It keeps our confidence up as we get ready for Scotland,'' he said. Randolph said Martinez has recorded 41 tackles and two sacks in four games. "He's really aggres- sive and a hard worker,'' Randolph said. Like Sanders-Johnson, Randolph called Martinez a great role model. When the offense was having its problems in the first two games, Martinez said the defense didn't get down on them. "We had their back,'' he said. "We knew they were going to pick it up. We had to get them right.'' Martinez said the key to continuing playing the way the Buccaneers are now is simple. "We just have to stay focused,'' he said. "Focus on our jobs, keep doing what we've been doing and try to adjust to Scotland.'' Randolph added that winning by itself cures a lot of problems. "It's a whole lot better going into the conference 2-2 instead of 0-4,'' he said. "We have some momentum, if we can keep that going through the bye.'' EARL VAUGHAN JR., Sports Editor. COMMENTS? EarlUCWS- ports@gmail.com. (910) 364-6638. Marcus Sanders-Johnson Keely Warren, center, cheers while standing in a mud puddle on the sidelines at Terry Sanford. Photo credit: Alana Hix. Erick Martinez Brian Randolph Keely Warren

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