High schools

Gavin Walker helps Wake Forest team win national ice hockey youth title

tstevens@newsobserver.comApril 15, 2014 

Gavin Walker, a Wake Forest High junior, helped the Raleigh-based East Coast Eagles to the USA Hockey Youth Tier-II U-16 2A national ice hockey championship with two goals in 3-2 overtime victory over the Arizona Union Knights in Reston, Va.

Defenseman Matt Fuller, who attends Greenville Conley High, scored the winning goal in the final.

The Eagles raced through the first four rounds and the semifinals, outscoring their opposition 30-8.

“We played very well, especially defensively,” said coach Lincoln Flagg. “In the preliminary rounds, some of the other teams didn’t have the quality of depth that we have, but once we got to the semifinals any of the four teams were capable of winning.”

The Eagles rallied from a 2-0, first-period deficit to defeat the Northern Virginia Ice Dogs in the semifinals, 5-2.

Walker had two of his five tournament goals in the final. His power-play goal that tied the score at 2 in the second period came when he hit a back-handed shot after circling from behind the goal. The play of goalie Harrison Drewitt helped spark a scoreless third period and send the game into overtime.

In the overtime period, Dan Brescia, who attends Green Hope, won a face-off to Walker, whose shot was blocked. The Knights tried to clear the puck, but Fuller kept the puck in and hit a high shot from 40 feet out into the back of the net for the title.

The North Carolina club finished its season 40-17-3. The majority of the players are from Wake County, but some are from Greenville, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville and Carrboro.

Fuller finished the national tournament with four goals, as did Justin McEneny (Wakefield) and Brescia and Fuller.

The Eagles, who won their final 10 games, were one of 21 national champions in the USA Hockey program. Competition is divided into tiers and classes for boys and girls.

Double duty: Marc Morris has accepted the football head-coaching job at Carolina Forest High in Myrtle Beach, S.C., but he is working at Cleveland High this spring. That creates a problem, especially since South Carolina high schools have 13 days of spring football practice.

“It’s tough, but I want to make sure I complete my obligations here,” he said.

Compounding the problem is some of his old Cleveland staff is going with him to South Carolina. They still are working at the Johnston County school, too.

“Working two jobs, especially when they are 2 1/2 hours apart, is difficult, but we’re going to handle it,” Morris said.

He has faced coaching difficulties before. Harnett Central was not a power when he was named head coach, but he coached the 2009 Trojans team to the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A championship game. A potential winning field-goal attempt was blocked and Harnett Central finished 15-1.

Morris moved to Cleveland when it opened in 2010. His first varsity team at the school had no seniors. Nevertheless, the Rams posted 11-4, 12-2 and 9-4 records during his three seasons.

“Some coaches are builders and other are maintainers,” he said. “I always have enjoyed the challenge of building.”

Loving track: Garner running back Nyheim Hines loves running track. He didn’t win any titles Saturday at the Wake County Championships, but he enjoys competing and thinks track has made him a better football player. He has no plans to cut back on track to concentrate on offseason football.

“Track has gotten me to where I am in football,” Hines said. “Why should I stop doing something I enjoy doing and something I’ve done all of my life? Running track and playing football has worked out well for me.”

Strong focus: Middle Creek sophomore Devin Wallace had one of the best softball outings of her career Friday in an 8-2 Southwest Wake Athletic 4A win against Fuquay-Varina. She pitched a three-hitter, striking out 16. She got stronger as she went along, striking out nine of the final 12 batters.

“My focus got stronger as the game went on,” Wallace said.

J. Mike Blake and David Justice contributed to this story.

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