The football teams at Green Hope and Heritage are getting a lot of respect in the preseason from other coaches this year. That the two schools are considered conference contenders is a big change from a couple of years ago.
When Kwame Dixon arrived at Green Hope two years ago, the program had lost 38 straight games, had won one of its past 44 games and three of its past 63. The Falcons went 6-6 in 2012.
The kids have done everything that weve asked them to do, Dixon said. They are good kids and theyve worked hard to improve.
I think some of the attention were getting is because our quarterback (Chris Tutwiler) is back. He is pretty special.
Tutwiler passed for 2,428 yards last season.
Heritage, which played a junior varsity schedule in 2010 when it first opened, also went 6-6 last season. The Huskies beat Cap 8 foes Sanderson, Enloe, Millbrook and Broughton and played well in a 17-14 regular-season loss to league champion Leesville Road.
Stankavage back: Shawn Stankavage, who helped Cardinal Gibbons to an 11-2 season in 2013, is back at full speed following knee surgery last fall. Stankavage had ACL surgery after being injured in the Crusaders 57-52 victory over Grays Creek.
Wilson Hunt ended Gibbons season the next week with a 25-20 victory.
Shawn is going full speed, said Gibbons coach Steven Wright. The doctor has released him and he seems fully recovered.
Stankavage passed for 1,905 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2012.
Dante DiMaggio, who handled quarterback after Stankavages injury, will return to wide receiver and may play some safety.
The conference dynamic changes this year with Southern Durham entering the league.
I think Southern Durham probably is the favorite, Wright said.
Green Hope girls: Alexis Shaffer and Alexis Degler, who shared the states top girls soccer awards this year after leading Green Hope High to an undefeated season, will play another game together.
The two Falcon seniors have been named to the East roster for the N.C. Coaches Association All-Star Soccer game on July 23 at UNC-Greensboro.
Boys and girls all-star basketball games are July 22 at Greensboro Coliseum. The all-star football game is July 24 at High Points Simeon Stadium, a new venue this year instead of Greensboro Grimsleys Jamieson Stadium.
Shaffer was the two-time North Carolina Gatorade player of the year for girls soccer, while Degler was chosen as the states player of the year by the N.C. Soccer Coaches Association.
The girls game is loaded with area players: Broughtons Caroline Brown, Sandersons Olivia Sanderson, Cardinal Gibbons Christina Gibbons, Millbrooks Rachel Hallman and Jackie Stroud, Chapel Hills Alexis Moiseenko, Panther Creeks Hanna Socha, Wake Forest Heritages Erin Tanhauser and Carys Anna Witte.
Coaches list: The N.C. High School Athletic Associations list of 100 coaches to remember is filled with great coaches, but the absence of Jack Holley, the states leader in football coaching wins, has kept my telephone jingling.
A couple other local coaches I think should have made it are Fuquay-Varina baseball coach Milton Senter and Orange wrestling coach Bobby Shriner.
But it is a lot easier to criticize a list than it is to create one.