Up & Coming Weekly

June 13, 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 24 of 32

24 UCW JUNE 14-20, 2017 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM There are still more ques- tions than answers as Mike Paroli tries to restore the Douglas Byrd football pro- gram to the glory years it enjoyed under him and his father Bob Paroli during most of the 1990s. But during this year's spring practice, the younger Paroli focused on finding a quarter- back and continuing to build on a successful year in the weight room as the Eagles seek to improve on a 0-11 record last year. "Our strength has increased, and our attendance has been good,'' said Mike Paroli. "We still need a situation where a good number of jayvees are coming to the varsity. That hasn't happened the last two years.'' Despite not having the kind of overall numbers he'd like, Paroli aims to play two-platoon foot- ball as much as possible this season. "We had a couple of games we were up in the fourth quarter and didn't win,'' Paroli said. "Others were close at halftime, and things got away quickly for us in the second half. "We're trying to find 22 kids so at some point we can win a game in the second half.'' Paroli is also looking for a quarterback. The top contenders are Kamahree Futrell and John Carroll. Carroll played wide receiver and running back last season. Futrell started on the junior varsity and was promoted during the season. "John took a physical pounding but never got hurt and never fumbled,'' Paroli said. "We want to get to the point where we feel we can hand it off or give it or toss it or they can run it.'' Bryheem Swanson will be a senior defensive back for Byrd this season. Like his coach, he feels discipline and mental strength are keys for the Eagles to prevent games from slipping away at the end like they did last season. "Last year we had a lot of close games,'' he said. "When the second half rolled around we couldn't finish.'' Swanson thinks the Eagles have weeded out players who didn't want to commit to the program fully. "Now we've got people willing to work hard and stay in the weight room every day,'' he said. Swanson feels spring practice has gone well for the Eagles and hopes it translates into a better season this fall. "We didn't put up a lot of points because teams were bigger and stronger than us,'' he said. "We'll put the offense to the test and try to score more points than we did last year.'' Just two days after they fell to North Davidson in two straight games for the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4-A softball championship, Cape Fear's players and coaches Jeff McPhail and Mack Page returned to Doris Howard Field at Cape Fear to pack things up for the season. It was the second straight year Cape Fear lost in the finals, again failing to hit in a series-opening loss, then having to dig itself out of too deep a hole after dropping the first game. McPhail made no excuses and didn't spend time discussing what might have been. Instead, he talked about the season ahead and what Cape Fear can do to remain one of the best softball teams in North Carolina. One thing the Colts have no control over is how strong their conference opponents are. Next year the Colts will be in the 4-A/3-A Patriot Conference. Two teams in that new league, E.E. Smith and Terry Sanford, were winless this season. Westover, Doug- las Byrd and Pine Forest combined for 13 wins. The only teams in the new league with winning 2017 records, aside from Cape Fear, will be South View and Gray's Creek. McPhail said Cape Fear has tried to schedule tougher nonconference foes like it did this year with Marlboro Academy and Whiteville, but added they've not been able to work out games with some of the better teams in the state. "We're going to try to sit down and look at some other schools, see if they want to come down or us go up there,'' he said. "The last two or three years we tried, and their schedules were booked.'' Beyond scheduling concerns, McPhail loses four talented seniors in Haley Cashwell, Bri Bryant, Kait- lyn Knuckles and Kayla Molivas, all starters. "Next year we'll be kind of young on the varsity,'' he said. "I feel the next two or three years we've got some good players coming up. And we've got our pitching back.'' Mackenzie Peters and Katie Murphy both saw action in the state playoffs and will return in the circle for the Colts. Among the biggest graduation losses is Cashwell, who earned All-American sta- tus during her four-year career and leaves with five N.C. High School Athletic Asso- ciation fast-pitch softball state records. Cashwell plans to play more travel soft- ball this summer as she prepares to enroll at Wingate. "I'm thankful I got to spend time with my best friends,'' she said of her years at Cape Fear. Cashwell expects to play middle infield at Wing- ate, which was 25-25 overall and 10-10 in the South Atlantic Conference this season, losing eight of its last 10 games. "I'm going to better myself as much as I can, keep practicing and get better at everything,'' she said. Byrd Aiming for Gradual Progress This Season by EARL VAUGHAN JR. Mike Paroli Jeff McPail Haley Cashwell Bryheem Swanson EARL VAUGHAN JR., Sports Editor. COMMENTS? EarlUCWSports@gmail.com. HIGH SCHOOL HIGHLIGHTS Cape Fear Already Building for Next Season by EARL VAUGHAN JR. Do you have a story or idea to share with High School Highlights? Email us at highschoolhighlights@upandcomingweekly.com

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