Broughton High junior linebacker Austin Bell will receive the U.S. Army-Pro Football Hall of Fame Award for Excellence on Thursday from NFL Hall of Fame member Joe DeLamielleure during ceremonies at 4:30 at Broughton.
Along with the award comes an invitation to attend this year’s Hall of Fame weekend in Canton, Ohio. Bell and the other 19 finalists will attend the induction ceremony and will be introduced during the Hall of Fame game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Aug. 9.
Finalists for the Award for Excellence are chosen for exhibiting excellence and demonstrating adaptability and versatility when working as a team.
“I have never seen Austin do anything less than his best,” said Broughton coach Billy Lane. “Our philosophy here is that there are no tasks to small for us to do whether it best sweeping the floor or washing uniforms. Austin has picked up on that and is a servant leader. He works to make his teammates better. He has a sunny demeanor.
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“But that is not to say that he is just a guy with intangibles off the charts. He led the Cap Eight in tackles and was all-conference. He is an outstanding football player.”
DeLamielleure is best known for being an offensive guard for the Buffalo Bills during the O.J. Simpson era. Simpson became the become NFL’s first 2,000-yard rusher. DeLamielleure played in 185 consecutive games in his career with Buffalo (1973-1979, 1985) and the Cleveland Browns (1980-84). He was an All-Pro pick six straight seasons and enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
East Bladen’s Abby Norris also is a finalist for the award.
Heritage wins key game: Heritage High scored twice in the first inning, and Laura Williams tossed a four-hit shutout on Tuesday night as the Huskies handed Wake Forest, a 2-0 Cap Eight 4A girls softball loss. The Cougars had been undefeated and No. 1 in the N&O rankings.
Wake Forest had won the first game between the two teams, 3-2.
“The first game was great and so was the one of Tuesday,” said Heritage coach Mark Downing. “These were two of the best softball games that I have ever seen. The game was played at a very high level.”
Heritage’s Laura Sales opened the game with a triple, and Jordan Gontram was hit by a pitch. Sales scored on a wild pitch and Gontram came in on a single by Imani Rochelle.
That was it for the scoring. Wake Forest loaded the bases in the second, but a runner was thrown out at the plate.
Wake Forest’s Chelsey Cunningham gave up only two hits after the first inning and struck out six.
“Chelsey and Laura know each other and I think they get a little fired up when they play against each other,” Downing said. “They both were outstanding.”
Downing said Huskies freshman Cassidy Henault played a key role. Heritage needed a catcher following injuries and Henault, who had caught years ago, stepped in behind the plate.
Heritage, 15-1, has five games left in the regular season, including league games against Millbrook, Wakefield and Broughton. If Wake Forest, 12-1, and Heritage finished tied for the regular-season conference title, they may play an addition game to determine the league’s top seed into the playoffs.
NCHSAA board: The N.C. High School Athletic Association board of directors will meet Tuesday and Wednesday in the newly renovated Simon F. Terrell Building in Chapel Hill.
The NCHSAA staff returned to the building recently after almost a year of renovations.
The meeing will be the last for Commissioner Davis Whitfield, who is leaving the NCHSAA to become the chief operating officer of the National Federation of State High School Associations. Que Tucker, the current deputy commissioner, will become the commissioner.
The board is expected to discuss the regional basketball format, football off-season and in-season practices, social media and sportsmanship, post-season competition and several financial issues.
Regional tennis: The Mideast 4A tennis regional will be at Millbrook Exchange on Friday but will move to Millbrook High on Saturday.