The N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association is planning some major changes to its athletic program that will go into effect for the 2018-19 school year.
NCISAA executive director Homar Ramirez said his organization is moving from three classes to four. For many Mecklenburg County Schools, including those in the Charlotte Independent Schools conference, the move will mean moving up a class.
So, for example, Charlotte Latin, a longtime 3A school, will move to 4A. Carmel Christian, the reigning N.C. 2A state champion, will be a 3A school next season.
"The discussions (about adding a fourth class) began in 2013," Ramirez said, "and this is just to help with parity in the association with its member schools."
The NCISAA now has 95 member schools. Providence Day (593 high school students) is the largest. Providence Day, located in south Charlotte, has an enrollment that would rank among the 20 largest 1A public schools.
Hobgood Academy, in Hobgood, NC., is the smallest private school. It has 28 students. The smallest public school is Eastern N.C. School of the Deaf. It has 24 high school students.
At least three non-boarding parochial private schools play in the N.C. High School Athletic Association: Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (1,477) is 4A. Charlotte Catholic (1,247) is 3A. And Winston-Salem Bishop McGuinness (477) is a 1A school.
▪ Ramirez said the NCISAA will hold its annual summer meetings June 17-21. At that time, he said, organizers will determine if any sports would not have four class champions.
One that will not, he said, is football.
Last season, the NCISAA abandoned its old format of placing teams into three divisions. Instead, all 24 teams that played 11-man football were evaluated based on 2017 results and then placed into a bracket. Longtime Division I teams Charlotte Country Day and Charlotte Latin were placed in the Division II bracket, for example.
Last year, the top four teams went to Division I; the next eight to Division II; and the next eight to Division III.
Ramirez said the NCISAA board of advisers will discuss two football proposals at its summer meetings: three divisions, similar to the 2017 playoffs, or two championships based on enrollment with a Division I and Division II state champion in each.
NCISAA Classification Breakdown
|Schools - 4A (17 schools)|
|Providence Day School||593|
|Charlotte Country Day School||520|
|North Raleigh Christian Academy||518|
|Charlotte Latin School||513|
|Metrolina Christian Academy||414|
|Charlotte Christian School||409|
|Wesleyan Christian Academy||383|
|Rabun Gap School||331|
|Covenant Day School||327|
|Greensboro Day School||316|
|Wake Christian Academy||307|
|Saint Mary's School||270|
|Carmel Christian School||310|
|Christ the King Catholic High School||292|
|Hickory Grove Christian School||292|
|Arendell Parrott Academy||264|
|Asheville Christian Academy||260|
|Gaston Christian School||258|
|Cape Fear Academy||252|
|Forsyth Country Day School||250|
|Cary Christian School||248|
|Grace Christian School (Raleigh)||244|
|Coastal Christian High School||243|
|Calvary Day School||240|
|High Point Christian Academy||237|
|Village Christian Academy||230|
|Concord First Assembly Academy||227|
|St. David's School||226|
|Carolina Day School||216|
|Southlake Christian Academy||212|
|Fayetteville Christian School||208|
|St. Thomas More Academy||193|
|Carolina Friends School||175|
|Burlington Christian Academy||171|
|Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill||169|
|Freedom Christian Academy||168|
|Davidson Day School||164|
|Statesville Christian School||158|
|Gaston Day School||150|
|Rocky Mount Academy||144|
|American Hebrew Academy||144|
|University Christian High School||141|
|Northside Christian Academy||139|
|Westchester Country Day School||139|
|Westminster Catawba Christian School||139|
|The ONeal School||138|
|Faith Christian School||132|
|Hickory Christian Academy||132|
|Wayne Country Day School||132|
|Harrells Christian Academy||126|
|Salem Baptist Christian School||118|
|Friendship Christian School||115|
|Trinity Academy of Raleigh||115|
|Wayne Christian School||113|
|Bethel Christian Academy||112|
|The Oakwood School||110|
|Neuse Christian Academy||98|
|Northwood Temple Academy||94|
|United Faith Christian Academy||94|
|Community Christian School||93|
|Trinity Christian School||93|
|The Burlington School||92|
|Lee Christian School||81|
|North Hills Christian||77|
|Cresset Christian Academy||76|
|Cape Fear Christian Academy||74|
|Grace Christian School (Sanford)||71|
|Christ Covenant School||69|
|Crossroads Christian School||59|
|John Paul II Catholic High School||58|
|Victory Christian Center School||54|
|Pungo Christian Academy||52|
|Terra Ceia Christian School||33|
▪ Concord High won a $1,000 grant from California Casuality to use to purchase necessary equipment, including balls, mitts and training gear, for a variety of sports. Assistant Principal Chrissy Rotan said sports are an important part of the school’s mission to “instill an appreciation for tradition and global citizenship while promoting a passion for learning.”
Concord High is one of 79 public middle schools and high schools in 32 states awarded a total of $83,000. The grant is named for California Casualty Chairman Emeritus Tom Brown, an avid sportsman who believes that teamwork, confidence and sportsmanship help develop high achievers in academics and in life.
Since its inception in 2011, more than $660,000 has been awarded to some 600 schools across the nation. Applications for the 2018-19 Athletics Grants are now being taken. The deadline for consideration is January 15.
▪ North Mecklenburg's Myles Hunter is transferring to Carmel Christian, the NCISAA 2A state champion, first-year Carmel Christian coach Joe Badgett told the Observer.
Hunter, a 6-foot-4 wing, will repeat his junior year at Carmel. He recently received his first college offer from Hampton University, where his father played.
▪ Charlotte Country Day's DeAngelo Epps (No. 0 in video above) was an all-state and CISAA all-conference performer at Charlotte Country Day last season. On Saturday, he helped the Bucs win a championship at Wofford's team camp. Epps has been accepted and enrolled at Carmel Christian, Badgett said.
Epps, a 6-5 forward, repeated his sophomore season at Country Day two years ago after transferring from West Charlotte. The conference that Country Day plays in, the CISAA, doesn't allow players who reclassify after ninth grade to have an additional year of eligibility.
The CISAA adopted that rule change in 2004 to "level the playing field" with CMS schools, in hopes of playing regular-season games with CMS schools. That didn't happen, but the CISAA stayed with the rule, though many athletes have unsuccessfully appealed for an extra year of eligibility.
Carmel Christian does allow reclassed athletes to have an extra year of eligibility.
Epps’ mother, Kellee Burney, told the Observer Saturday night that going to Carmel would be the family’s first choice. She said playing at Charlotte’s Liberty Heights and possibly a Florida high school would also be possibilities if Epps didn’t attend Carmel.
Liberty Heights students take online classes, and in some cases remain at their current school while playing sports at Liberty Heights.
“What we want to do is to go to Carmel,” Burney said. “That was our first option. It would be an easy transition for DeAngelo. And he has been practicing with them.”
Burney said when Epps applied to Country Day, Bucs officials informed them that it would be best for her son to reclass for academic reasons. She said her son has raised his grades, boosted his SAT score and is a college qualifier. A 6-foot-5 forward, Epps has eight college offers, including from Winthrop and College of Charleston.
“They did mention when we applied (at Country Day) that there was an eight semester rule (CISAA athletes get eight consecutive semesters, or four years of eligibility from ninth grade) for the conference,” Burney said. “But they assured me that wouldn’t hold for DeAngelo because DeAngelo was reclassifying for academics. We weren’t worried about it because they assured us it would not affect him playing his senior year.”
Burney said the school made an unsuccessful appeal to gain an extra year for her son in February, and another in March.
“If they were ever going to do an appeal,” she said, “DeAngelo’s would’ve been the one to do. He brought his grades up. He got an 1,100 on his SAT. So it was beneficial for him to reclass and get that extra year under his belt, outside of basketball.”
▪ Providence Day School won the 2018 Wells Fargo Cup for the 3A private school classification. The Wells Fargo Cup represents the North Carolina private school with the best overall athletic program. There are twenty-two individual boys’ and girls’ athletic teams who can earn points for their school. Providence Day had seventeen different teams earning points including two state champions and six runner-ups.
This award marks the sixth time over the past seven years that Providence Day has won the Cup.
▪ Reigan Richardson, a 6-foot-1 guard considered a top 100 recruit in the class of 2021, is transferring from Harrisburg Hickory Ridge to Cannon School. The major college recruit — Richardson is being recruited by schools from the ACC, SEC and Big Ten — averaged 11 points, five rebounds and two steals last season. She joins a Cannon team that was 4-15 last season.
Jay Edwards' Spring Sports Athletes of the season
Each week of this spring season, Observer correspondent Jay Edwards has selected high school athletes of the week.
This week, the 2018 spring sports’ ended.
So, now Jay takes a look back at some of the best athletes, best accomplishments and best moments from all over the Observer coverage area this season.
2018 Spring Sports’ Boys Athletes of the Season
Vaughn Porter, Lake Norman Lacrosse: The Lake Norman lacrosse team had a dream season this year, going 22-2 overall, capping it with 13-11 victory over Middle Creek to claim the 4A state championship, May 19.
But if you asked most people on the Wildcats’ team, that wasn’t even their biggest moment of this season, according to Coach James Brugger.
That moment came with four minutes left in Lake Norman’s final regular season home game, when Wildcats’ senior Vaughn Porter scored to help his team to a 16-7 victory, the Conference 13 title and a No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
If you were a casual fan watching the game, it might not have seemed like a big goal at the time.
But seconds later, when the entire Lake Norman team and coaching staff poured onto the field to congratulate the Porter, it was evident just how much the goal meant to the entire Wildcats’ lacrosse family.
Porter, who served as the team manager last year, had just scored his first career goal.
“When Vaughn (Porter) scored, there was not a dry eye in the place, as the team rushed the field,” said Brugger, who noted the team got an unsportsmanlike penalty for the celebration, but it was ‘well worth the penalty.’ “….We (Lake Norman team) don’t rush the field for goals, but I told the kids that if Vaughn scored a goal, I wouldn’t mind if they rushed the field. When Vaughn scored, we all just took off running, jumped on him, hugged him and celebrated like we had just won the (state) championship.
"It was a moment none of us will ever forget.”
Porter overcame a lot just to be playing for the Lake Norman lacrosse team.
Porter has a rare disorder, called 22q.11 Deletion Syndrome.
Believed to be as common as Down's Syndrome, 22q.11 affects an estimated one in 4,000 people, according to the National Institutes of Health.
It is caused by the deletion of a small piece of chromosome 22 and commonly can cause heart abnormalities, a cleft palate and distinctive facial features. It can also cause recurrent infections, rheumatoid arthritis and even Grave's disease due to immune system dysfunction.
While Lake Norman enjoyed a lot of special moments in their championship run, Porter again had one of the most memorable moments when he accepted the state championship trophy by himself for entire Lake Norman team.
“Our ultimate goal was to win the state championship, and we all wanted to see Vaughn (Porter), Brugger said. “When he took the trophy, the whole team went crazy, and it made a great moment (for all of us) even better.”
Owen White, Carson Baseball: The Carson senior was named N.C. Gatorade baseball player of the year, May 29.
White, a University of South Carolina signee, was picked No. 55 overall in the 2nd round in the Major League Baseball draft by the Texas Rangers, June 4. His slot value is $1.3 million, according to mlb.com.
White, 6-foot-3, 185-pounds, finished his senior season 10-1 on the mound with 0.22 earned-run average (ERA), striking out 101 batters. He also hit .333 with two home runs and 24 RBI.
White also helped lead his Carson team to a 24-6 record and the 3A state quarterfinals.
Bubba Comer, Independence Baseball: Bubba Comer enjoyed a standout sophomore season for the Independence baseball team, as lefty, centerfielder hit .448 with 26 runs scored and 20 stolen bases for a Patriots’ team (20-8) that won both the 2016, Southwestern 4A regular season and tournament titles.
But just a week before his junior season was about to start, the unthinkable happened again. Comer broke his left wrist for the third time while hiking at Crowders’ Mountain.
Comer was forced to sit and watch his teammates for half the season and once he returned wasn’t 100 percent, according to Independence baseball coach, Daniel Cooke.
But Comer was determined to be ready to go for his senior season.
Comer came up big when his team needed him most, going 7-for-12 in three games at the plate to lead his team to the Southwestern 4A conference baseball tournament title.
Comer was at his best in the tournament championship game, going 4-for-5 at the plate with a RBI and three runs as Independence outlasted Myers Park 11-9 in eight innings to win the league title.
Comer, who hit .368 with 10 doubles, 17 RBI and 10 stolen bases this season, was named the SW4A tournament’s most valuable player.
Comer’s hard work and persistence paid off as he signed with Guilford Technical Community College, May 9.
Justin Jarvis, Lake Norman Baseball: The Lake Norman senior pitcher tossed a perfect game, going all seven innings with 18 strikeouts in the Wildcats 5-0 season opening victory over East Rowan, March 2.
Jarvis, a UNC Wilmington signee, was strong all year on the mound, going 8-2 with 95 strikeouts in 57 innings of work, while boasting a 1.60 ERA for a Lake Norman team that went 24-4 this season.
DeMarkes Stradford, Charlotte Latin Track: The Charlotte Latin senior ran to record-breaking season on the track.
Stradford broke his own state record, running a 10.44 to win the 100-meter dash at the CISAA championships at Providence Day, May 12.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound, Charlotte Latin senior thought he had run a 10.13 second time (100-meter dash) originally, but the sensor on the timing system failed, according to Perfect Timing. The time was later adjusted to 10.44.
Stradford’s 10.44 is the No.1 100-meter dash run in the state this outdoor season, tied for the 26th-best in state history.
Stradford also won the NCISAA 3A state championship in the 100-meter dash, running a 10.61 at Ravenscroft, May 19.
While Stradford excelled on the track, his primary sport is football, and Charlotte Latin’s all-time leading rusher (5,361 yards and 72 touchdowns) will continue his academic and athletic career at Harvard University later this summer.
Narayan Mohan, Cannon School Golf: The Cannon School freshman shot a four-under par 140 (two days, 68-72) to earn the NCISAA 3A state medalist honors, while helping his Cougar team to their third state title in the last four years at Pinehurst No. 8, May 15.
Mohan beat Forsyth Country Day’s Brandon Einstein, on the second hole of a playoff to secure the individual, NCISAA 3A title.
Cannon School had a balanced attack to claim the NCISAA 3A, team title by 22 shots with Mohan leading a school-record five, Cougar players who made first-team all-state, including senior, Lansdon Robbins (tied for 3rd-place), senior Michael Childress (tied for 6th-place) and senior Michael Sanders, and freshman, Charlie Barr (both tied for 9th-place).
Charlotte Catholic Golf Team: The Charlotte Catholic golf team won its first state championship in 14 years, taking the 3A state championship by 19 shots at Long Leaf Golf and Family Club in Southern Pines, May 8.
The Cougars were led by junior, Drew Hackett (tied for 4th-place individually at states), sophomores Jack Hart (tied for 7th) and Jack Heath (tied for 13th) and senior Will Sleeper (tied for 23rd).
Catholic should be one of the top state contenders in 2019 with only two seniors on the team this season.
Anthony Todaro, Weddington Lacrosse: The Weddington sophomore attacker earned the 1A/2A/3A NCHSAA state championship game’s most valuable player (MVP) honors as he poured in eight goals and had three assists to help the Warriors (19-2) beat East Chapel Hill, 20-6, to clinch their second straight state title at Wake Med Soccer Park, May 18.
Todaro, who had 72 goals and 42 assists this season, scored early and often in the state finals, with two goals in the first quarter, three scores in the second quarter, two more in the third quarter, and capped the Warriors’ scoring in the final quarter.
Cade Caggiano/Jackson Price, Ardrey Kell Lacrosse: The Ardrey Kell freshman duo lit up scoreboards all year as two of the most prolific scorers in the country in their first varsity season.
Caggiano scored 73 goals (No. 2 nationally for freshmen according to maxpreps.com), had 33 assists (No. 8 in nation for freshmen), totaling 106 points (No. 2 nationally for freshman).
Meanwhile, Price had 59 goals (No. 5 in nation for freshmen), and he had 43 assists (No. 2 nation in for freshmen), giving him 102 points (No. 3 in nation for freshmen).
Caggiano and Price were two big reasons why an Ardrey Kell team that lost 13 seniors in 2017 tied the school record with 16 wins (16-5 overall), advancing to the 2nd round of the 4A state championship, before losing to eventual state champion, Lake Norman, May 8.
Myers Park Tennis Team: The Myers Park tennis team didn’t repeat as 4A state champions, but the Mustangs still had a dominant season on the court, winning 140 of the 146 (individual) matches they played this year.
The Mustangs came up one game short of another perfect season losing 5-1 to Enloe in the 4A state championship match at the Piedmont Indoor Tennis Center in Greensboro, May 19.
The Mustangs had won 38 straight matches going into the 2018, 4A state finals, after going 21-0 last year.
Myers Park junior, Mark Dillion, Jr., led the way as the Mustangs’ No.1 was 4A state singles’ runner-up this season.
Metrolina Christian Track Team: The Metrolina Christian boys’ and girls’ track team doesn’t have a track to practice or compete on, on their campus.
Instead, Coach Brett Honeycutt and the Warriors practice in the school’s parking lot, where they have make shift high jump, long jump, discus and shot put areas as well as lanes drawn for the 100-meter dash and exchange zones for relays.
But not having a track hasn’t slowed down the Metrolina Christian track team, which is the most popular sport at the school with 150 athletes in the middle and high school program.
The Warriors had another banner season this year as the Metrolina Christian boys’ won their 5th straight, Metrolina Athletic conference (MAC) title, while the girls also won their 3rd straight MAC crown.
▪ Metrolina Christian seniors, Noah Davis and Caroline Walters, also finished their respective career with NCISAA 3A state titles in the discus.
2018 Spring Sports’ Girls Athletes of the Season
Mary Elliott McCabe, Charlotte Latin Soccer: The Charlotte Latin senior had a record-breaking season as she helped the Hawks to their 4th straight, NCISAA 3A state championship.
McCabe, a University of North Carolina signee, scored a single-season school record 43 goals this season, giving her 117 goals in her Charlotte Latin soccer career, shattering the previous mark (Tiffany Tisdale Rice, 1994 graduate) of 101 goals.
McCabe came up big when her team needed her most scoring the first two goals of the 3A state championship to give her team a 2-0 lead over rival, Providence Day, May 19.
McCabe scored the first goal on a rebound with about four minutes to play in the first half. She netted her second goal four minutes into the second half on a perfect pass from Ellie Norman.
Charlotte Latin won the title game, 3-1.
“Mary Elliott (McCabe) is just a big-time, big-game player, who always has her game face on, who always comes to play,” said Charlotte Latin coach, Lee Horton, who has guided his Charlotte Latin girls’ and boys’ soccer team to 19 state titles (12 girls, 7 boys) in his 33 years as the Hawks’ head soccer coach. “Scoring (goals) is the hardest of the game, but she has no problem doing it, especially in the big games. When other teams know you have a go-to player (like McCabe) and they still can’t stop it, you know you have a special player.”
Chesney Millsaps, Alexander Central Softball: The Alexander Central senior finished her Cougars’ softball career in championship style, as she went the distance on the mound to help her team a 3A state championship.
Millsaps accounted for all 28 of Alexander Central (28-5) wins this season, earning the final two victories on the mound against Cleveland in the 3A state championship series.
In game one against Cleveland, Millsaps toss a shutout to lead the Cougars to a 2-0 win, June 1.
The next day, Alexander Central completed the sweep in comeback fashion as they scored three runs in the seventh inning to tie the game at four, and then two runs in the 11th inning to win the game, the series and the 3A state title, June 2. Millsaps pitched all 11 innings in her final high school game.
Millsaps was 28-5 on the mound with 130 strikeouts in 207 innings of work.
While Millsaps is standout on the softball diamond, it’s not even her primary sport as she has signed to play college volleyball at Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC), starting later this summer.
U16 AA Carolina Junior Hurricanes’ Hockey Team: The U16 AA Carolina Lady Hurricanes became the first female hockey team ever from the Carolinas to make it to USA Hockey Nationals, when they traveled to Marlborough, MA, April 5-10.
The U16 AA Carolina Lady Hurricanes, coached by Mike Young (from Raleigh), featured a 15-player roster with players from the Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Raleigh and Atlanta (GA) areas, including four players from Observer-area high schools, including Jessica Dawe (Indian Land), Grace Mayer (Marvin Ridge), Abby Reisinger (Piedmont) and Lauren Tulloch (Olympic).
The U16 Carolina Lady Hurricanes lost all three of their games in close contests at nationals, but are currently ranked No. 32 in the country (in their age group), according to myhockeyrankings.com.
Mariah Howlett, Lake Norman Charter Track: The Lake Norman Charter senior won 2A state titles in 1600 and 3200-meter runs for the second straight year to help her Knights’ girls’ team to their first outdoor state championship in school history at North Carolina A&T, May 19.
Howlett, an N.C. State signee, ran a personal-best 5:00.67 to win the 1600, 2A state title, while also running a 10.57.13 to claim the 3200, state crown.
Sydney Scott, Charlotte Latin Track: The Charlotte Latin senior had a meet for the ages in her final high school competition, winning three different, individual state titles at the NCISAA 3A state championships at Ravenscroft, May 19.
Scott won the 200-meter dash, the long jump and the triple jump, while finishing as runner-up in the 100-meter dash (12.19) by .02 seconds.
Scott will continue her academic and track career at Brown University later this summer.
Caleigh McKinnon, Union Academy Soccer: The Union Academy senior finished her Cardinals’ soccer career in style, scoring three goals and dishing out two more assists in her final game to help her team to a 6-1 win over Franklin (defending 1A state champion) to win the 1A state championship, May 26.
McKinnon scored two goals in the same minute (15th minute), to give Union Academy (25-1) a 2-0 lead in the first half. She also netted the first goal of the second half to help put away the game.
McKinnon, who 35 goals and 26 assists this season, finishes her Union Academy career with a school-record 176 goals and 87 assists.
Marissa and Morgan Hart, Providence Day Soccer: The Providence Day sisters’ duo had a year to remember, combining for 49 goals and 48 assists as they led the Chargers (15-3-2) to the NCISAA 3A state championship game, where they lost to Charlotte Latin, 3-1, May 19.
Marissa Hart (Princeton University commit), a junior midfielder, had 23 goals and 21 assists, while her younger sister, Morgan, a freshman forward, had 26 goals and 27 assists this season.
Both of the Hart sisters, who were all-state and all-CISAA conference picks, will be back to lead Providence Day next year.
Ayden Yates, Lake Norman Charter Soccer: The Lake Norman Charter sophomore had a record-breaking season, tying her own school record with 45 goals this season (45 goals as freshman).
Yates, a Virginia Tech commit, also broke her own single-season total points record with 116 points (45 goals, 26 assists), after totaling 104 points as a freshman.
Yates and classmate, Kasey Hahn both broke the Lake Norman Charter single-season assist record as each Knight standout tallied 26 assist this season.
Yates helped lead Lake Norman Charter (22-1-1) to the 2A state championship game, where they lost to First Flight 6-1, May 22.
Helen Summerell, West Iredell Soccer: The West Iredell junior forward rewrote the Warriors’ girls’ soccer record books, breaking her own school-record with 62 goals and 140 points this season, both No. 1 in the state (and both No. 4 in the nation), according to maxpreps.com.
Summerell scored at dizzying pace all season with six three-goal games, two four-goal games, four five-goal games, while she scored all six goals in West Iredell 6-4, first round playoff victory at Smoky Mountain, May 9.
The best thing about Summerell (who has 112 goals and 31 assists to date in her West Iredell career) is that she has one more season to add to her already impressive soccer resume.
Gabby Holloway, Cannon School Softball: The Cannon School sophomore had one of the most memorable weeks of the season with two, complete game no-hitters in the same week against CISAA conference foes.
Holloway started her week by tossing a complete game, no hitter, striking out 14 batters in a 7-0 win at Covenant Day, April 10.
Three days later, Holloway went the distance again, striking out 15 batters in a 15-0 win at Charlotte Latin.
Holloway, a University of Pittsburgh commit, had a monster year overall, going 12-6 on the mound with 159 strikeouts in 87 innings of work while boasting a 1.68 ERA. The CISAA conference player of the year also had two, one-hitter games to her credit.
Holloway is also a standout at the plate, where she hit .556 with 10 doubles, nine home runs and 25 RBI.
Got a good summer sports story?: Athletes of the week will resume when the 2018 fall sports season begins. But, if you want to suggest a story from what local, high school athletes/team are doing this summer, send email to Jay Edwards at email@example.com. Please send a detailed email with contact information and information on the athletes/team and what makes it an interesting story. Coaches must be willing to verify information.