Time Out For Sports: Davidson Football Plays In FCS Playoffs, Carolina Hurricanes Roll And High School Football Playoffs Aftermath
Davidson Wildcats football team clinches a post-season playoff berth for the first time in 52 years. The Carolina Hurricanes are leading the Central Division and high school football playoffs were on tap this weekend. With "All Things Considered" host Gwendolyn Glenn to talk sports is Langston Wertz Jr., a longtime sportswriter with The Charlotte Observer.
Langston Wertz Jr.: Hey Gwen, how are you doing?
Glenn: Great. Well, let's start with college football and the Davidson Wildcats. Langston, explain how Davidson got where they are today in the playoffs for the first time since 1969.
Wertz: You know, it's really kind of hard to explain. From 2013 to '17, they were 1-39. In 123 years of Davidson football, this is just the second time they've been in the postseason. But they're 4-2, they're Pioneer Conference Champions. They beat San Diego 31- 25. San Diego had won 39 straight conference games. You know, it's difficult to recruit at Davidson, they can't give scholarships. And Davidson costs $70,000 a year. It's hard to explain, but it's a wonderful thing that's all come together for those guys.
Glenn: OK, well, when will they play their first game and against what team?
Wertz: They're going to play on Saturday against Jacksonville State. You know, we alluded that Davidson has no scholarships. Jacksonville State has about 60. So it's going to be a tough go for Davidson. But, you know, they've won these types of games before. I wouldn't put them as a favorite. But you never know.
Glenn: You never know. Let's move on to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Glenn: The Carolina Hurricanes beat the Nashville Predators 3-1 on Saturday night, helping to maintain their one-point lead in the Central Division over the Florida Panthers. Langston, how are they looking in terms of the playoffs?
Wertz: They're looking really good, Gwen. I mean, four teams from their division are going to go to the playoffs. They have like a 10 game lead on fifth place. So I think they're looking good to go to the playoffs in terms of winning. The division is going to be really tight. You know, there's just a slight lead for Carolina - 29-10 over Florida who's 28-12 and Tampa Bay's 29-13. They have about 17 games left, 18 games left. But I do think they're going to make the playoffs. Whether or not they can win the division, don't know.
Glenn: OK, and a bit of drama is playing out in high school sports. The North Carolina High School Athletic Association is being investigated by state lawmakers. And Commissioner Que Tucker was in Raleigh this past week to answer questions from state lawmakers about the association's origin and revenue and I understand it went on for more than two hours with Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger, co-chair of the special committee that questioned Tucker. Tell us about that, Langston.
Wertz: It was more than just the questioning. It was like a grilling. And they really laid into her for about two hours and 15 minutes. You know, they showed some statistics that it made it seem as though North Carolina was the richest state association by far with over $40 million ahead of the second place, I think was Iowa which was less than half of that. But I think ultimately the lawmakers want the association to open the coffers a little bit and share more of the windfall they had with the schools.
Glenn: The association, they are over high school athletics in terms of rules and regulations and COVID restrictions, correct?
Wertz: Yes, that's correct. They lay out the rules, regulations for 421 public schools, charter and a couple of private and charter schools in the state.
Glenn: And Tucker was also asked about charter schools and how the fact that they can, you know, pull student-athletes from all over is seen by many as creating an unequal playing field in the 1A division where charters dominate. Here's what she told the subcommittee.
Que Tucker: I understand the frustration. We hear it and we continue to work through it. I don't know how to say no to those charter schools when they call and say they want to join the association because they're public schools. And our bylaws say that we must allow them in.
Glenn: So Langston what else does she have to say about making things more balanced in terms of charters and that 1A division?
Wertz: Well, the charter schools, Gwen, do have an inherent advantage because they can get kids within a 25-mile radius of their school. That allows them to get kids from multiple counties. There might be a 5,000 person radius for 1A school and a 25,000 person radius for a charter school. And then you get close to a big city is even greater. And I think what the association's doing now, they've created a formula to where the charter schools, they won't necessarily have as many advantages and ultimately they'll end up having to play up a division, which is what everybody wants.
Glenn: OK, well, high school football playoffs took place over the weekend. What were some of the highlights?
Wertz: Well Gwen, we had a lot of blowouts and we had a lot of comebacks. Myers Park beat Northwest Guilford by 40 and Hough beat Greenhope by 35. And Butler beat Glen by 35. But then in Charlotte, Catholic was down to Crest and Vance was down big to Ardrey Kell and Providence was down really big to Hickory Ridge but all three of those teams won and we've got some really, really good quarterfinals. I think the game I talked about last week, the Vance at Hough rematch is going to happen on Friday. I really believe this is going to determine, you know, a team is going that's going get to a state championship in the big 4A Class.
Eric Collins: Miles Bridges, how do you do!
Glenn: And the Charlotte Hornets won last night against the Portland Trail Blazers 101 to 109. Langston, what does this win mean for them, especially with them still missing their top scorers because of injuries?
Wertz: Well, any win they can get right now, as depleted as they are is a good win. You know, they're kind of falling fast in the playoff race. You know, some people are like "why don't you keep losing, go back to the lottery?" But I think they really want to get to the playoffs and try to make a run at it.
Glenn: Langston Wertz Jr. is a longtime sportswriter for The Charlotte Observer.