Lake Norman & Mooresville

Statesville Christian ready to go on football program

For several years, Statesville Christian has talked about having a football program. Now, in less than two weeks, the Lions will make that dream a reality.

Statesville Christian will begin its program with a middle school team when practice begins the first week of August. While they may be starting at square one, the Lions hired a big name to lead the program.

Former Dallas Cowboy linebacker and Statesville High star Vinson Smith will be the head coach from the start.

“We're definitely starting this team from scratch,” said Smith, who is also taking his first head coaching job of his career. “But you've got to start somewhere. I'm really nervous and really excited at the same time.”

What Smith lacks in coaching experience, he should make up by being one of the most accomplished football players to come out of the Charlotte area. Smith was an all-state player at Statesville High School, a star linebacker at East Carolina and played 12 years in the NFL for four teams, including the 1992-93 Super Bowl champions, Dallas Cowboys.

“I think this will be a learning experience for both the players and I,” Smith said.

The potential Lion football players also seem to be excited, as more than 40 kids turned out for the first mini-camp in June. Smith and the football staff hope for a similar turnout this week when they hold a camp from Monday to Friday at the school. Any kids who want to play are encouraged to attend.

“I think we're all really excited to get this football program started,” said Statesville Christian athletic director Chuck Nantz, who started his new job three weeks ago. “We needed somebody like Vinson to give us the instant credibility that we need to get the interest we want to have.”

The Lions will begin this coming season as a middle school program with seven games on the schedule, including three at home. Nantz also says their goal is to have a high school JV team by the 2009-10 season and a varsity squad by the 2011-12 season.

This year, Statesville Christian opens the season at the Cannon School on Sept. 4. Mack back at Memphis

Former Statesville Christian and Independence basketball star Doneal Mack transferred to University of New Orleans earlier this month, only to change his mind and transfer back to Memphis. Mack, who was unhappy with his playing time for the national runner-up Memphis Tigers, got his release from Memphis and enrolled in summer school at New Orleans. Three days later, he decided and he wanted to go back to Memphis and was accepted with open arms by Coach John Calipari.

With the overall No. 1 selection in the NBA draft, Derrick Rose, and first-team All-American Chris Douglas-Roberts gone, competition for time on Memphis' backcourt should be wide open.

Curry wins AAU Title

Hopewell basketball star Brandyn Curry was a part of the Charlotte Royals team that won the N.C. AAU state championships in late June. Curry, a first-team All-MECA 7 selection this past year for the Titans, was one of the top players along with Charlotte Latin's David Chadwick and Christ School's Lakeem Jackson (former Harding star).