Columns & Blogs

Earlier is better for high school kickoffs

In September 2001, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools moved high school football kickoffs up 30 minutes to 7 p.m. Turns out that was a brilliant move. I remember back in the ’80s, games started at 8 p.m.

Back then, teams ran a lot and the clock ran a lot, too. With today’s spread offenses and sometimes 100 passes a night, games often top the three-hour mark. Moving up makes sense, as it gets fans home earlier.

In Fayetteville, longtime high school reporter Earl Vaughan is calling for schools in that area to kickoff at 7 p.m. Around Mecklenburg, many private schools are also moving up.

Here’s hoping everyone does it soon, including the N.C. High School Athletic Association during the playoffs, which now start at 7:30.

• Huge game in Rock Hill on Friday: South Pointe (2-2) at Northwestern (2-2). I don’t think many folks figured either of these powers would be 2-2. Northwestern had seven turnovers in its first two games, including five in a loss to Charlotte Catholic that led to an 0-2 start. The winner here could jump-start its season.

• Butler’s Chrisean Davis-Pinckney is a 6-foot-1, 215-pound sophomore running back who is getting raves from folks around the Matthews school. Davis-Pinckney suffered a rib injury in a scrimmage with Northwestern and hasn’t played all season. He’s nearing a return and should make the state’s top-ranked team even better.

• Independence is looking for an endowment game in the 2015 (home) and 2016 seasons (away). This could be a chance for one of those marquee matchups fans get juiced up about. Information: athletics director Kelly Lewis (980-343-6900;

• More Butler: Bulldogs coach Brian Hales told me Thursday he would love to schedule more out-of-state marquee matchups. Butler is North Carolina’s top program, having claimed three of the past five N.C. 4AA championships (Butler has been to four of the past five N.C. 4AA Western Regional championship games).

Hales said the school was close to a deal to play DeMatha (Md.) at the University of Maryland a few years ago, but it fell apart over finances. He said scheduling a blockbuster game with an S.C. power, like a Northwestern or Byrnes or Summerville, is a much more likely possibility.

• The folks who do such a great job with that season-opening doubleheader at Memorial Stadium should look at, say, Butler-Byrnes (S.C.) on Saturday night and a Thursday night kickoff game as well. I’d like to see Charlotte Christian-Charlotte Catholic, and see Shelby take on a private power like Davidson Day.

• A star in the making at Community School in Davidson, tailback Joey Bernardini rushed for 312 yards and a Mecklenburg County record seven touchdowns in a 74-34 win over Forsyth Country Day this season.

He broke a 14-year-old single-game rushing touchdown record. Bernardini’s 776 yards this season rank first in Mecklenburg County and No. 5 in the state. His 14 rushing touchdowns are tied for the state lead and rank 10th nationally.

• Former Ardrey Kell star Trey Ellis, a freshman walk-on at Vanderbilt, played in last week’s win against Massachusetts. He returned two punts for 24 total yards. Ellis, 5-9 and 165 pounds, is among 31 freshmen who have played for Vanderbilt this season. He is expected to return punts Saturday when the Commodores play South Carolina (6:30 p.m., SEC Network).

• New East Mecklenburg coach Barry Shuford picked a great week to get his team going. The Eagles beat Harding 58-6 Monday, giving Shuford his first win at his new school.

Friday, East Meck will play the second of three straight home games when it faces Olympic, where Shuford coached previously. I’m sure this game has his attention.