Author: Dawson Haywood
I always try to write about something that is going to appeal to the entirety of Ok Listen Here's audience but today I'm being selfish and writing about my team, the Chicago Bears, and their new quarterback, Justin Fields.
I think everybody can agree that the Chicago Bears' move to trade up in the draft last night came as a bit of a shock because the team is notorious for having mediocre quarterbacks. Andy Dalton and Nick Foles fit that criteria. At the end of this season Andy Dalton will be a free agent and after next season Nick Foles will be a free agent. With the failed attempt to trade for Russell Wilson the Bears had to do something to get fans excited for this upcoming season.
Let's talk about the trade the Bears made with the Giants in order to obtain this draft pick. For the #11 pick in the draft the Bears had to give up the #20 and #164 pick in this year's draft as well as their 2022 first round and fourth round picks. That is a lot to give up for one player and reasonably so this makes Bears' fans a bit nervous because of the Mitch Trubisky situation.
This could be the optimism in me coming out but this was a good move because the Bears do not need that much more to have a complete team. The Bears still have a few picks left in this draft and they need to use these picks to pick up some help for the offensive line and defensive backs units. Fields is going to start out with a great wide receiver group comprised of Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Anthony Miller, Riley Ridley, Javon Wims, and Marquise Goodwin. The big question mark is how will the O-Line perform.
The Bears had the 8th worst running game in the league last year as well as allowed 37 sacks. Putting a rookie behind an offensive line that is one of the worst in the league is a less than optimal situation, obviously. Being optimistic here, last year the Bears' offensive line was plagued with injuries and inexperience so as long as they can stay healthy this could be a solid offensive line moving forward. This unit is relatively young and is still developing.
The last thing I would like to discuss is why did Fields drop so far in the draft? Trevor Lawrence was obviously going first but when both Lawrence and Fields were being recruited they were neck and neck as far as skill level goes. Other than this past season Zach Wilson has not had a particularly good season and taking an FCS player over someone who has been to the CFB National Title is always a gamble.
The Jets have not had a solid quarterback for years. Even in 2008 when Brett Farve played for the team he ended the season with 22 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. The last time the Jets played a playoff game was in 2010 when they were knocked out in the Conference Championship Game. The Jets have made moves that show promise but it could be a few years before we see the Jets become a playoff team again. If Wilson performs like how the Jets expect him to seeing them in the playoffs could happen soon rather than later.
I do like the 49ers picking up Trey Lance when they did because he is not going to be the starter out the gate and may spend the next two seasons learning under Jimmy Garoppolo. Lance has the opportunity to grow more so than any other quarterback in this draft because of the position he is in. It is likely that he will be more successful in his first season as a starter than Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields because the team is going to have time to figure out his playing style and build a team around him.
To conclude, Justin Fields to the Chicago Bears is the biggest move the Bears have made since the Khalil Mack trade. The team has the right tools to surround him with and Fields may just be the piece to the puzzle to make the Bears a consistent playoff team. With Aaron Rodgers likely out of Green Bay soon the NFC North is wide open, even for the Lions who have done well this offseason. This season will be an interesting one to follow.
Author: Dawson Haywood
North Carolina, though it is not Texas, Florida, or South Carolina, is still a very competitive state when it comes to football. Tonight's NFL Draft will without a doubt have a huge focus on the five Quarterbacks that are projected to go fast in the first round this year. What about our hometown guys? Making it to the NFL is a big deal for any North Carolina community because it really does not happen all that often. This article is going to cover some of the most sought after players in this year's NFL Draft from the Tar Heel State.
Caleb Farley / DB / Virginia Tech / Maiden High School
Farley graduated from Maiden High School in Maiden, North Carolina in 2017. In his senior year he helped lead Maiden to an 8-4 record the school was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by the Mount Pleasant Tigers. What is impressive about Farley is that he was recruited by three power five schools, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and South Carolina, while attending a 2A school. Farley sits at #12 on CBS's prospect rankings.
Javonte Williams / RB / UNC / Wallace-Rose High School
Javonte Williams is a player that UNC fans saw blow up very quickly after himself and Michael Carter ran for a combined total of 544 yards in a 62-26 win over #10 Miami. It is no surprise that Williams has found success beyond his High School playing days because he led Wallace-Rose High School to a 2A State Title in his senior year. Coming out of High School Williams was a 3-Star recruit with only one offer from UNC.
Hamsah Nasirildeen / DB / Florida State / Concord High School
This is the prospect that myself personally will have my eyes on tonight. This is because when he gets picked up I will be able to tell people I played against an NFL player. Nasirildeen was a player that we all knew was special but we could have never predicted he was this special. Nasirildeen led the Concord Spiders to an 8-4 record in his senior year but unfortunately the team lost in the first round of the NC 3A Playoffs in the first round to Marvin Ridge who the Hickory Ridge went on to beat in the 3rd round in quadruple overtime. The 2016 Ragin' Bulls were the best team in Cabarrus County that year and this is not up for debate. Nasirildeen was recruited as a 4-Star athlete with offers from Florida State, Alabama, Clemson, South Carolina, and UNC Charlotte.
Landon Dickerson / OL / Alabama / South Caldwell High School
Dickerson is the first player on this list that graduated from High School in 2016. At South Caldwell High School Dickerson led the team to an 11-3 record and a 3rd round playoff berth. Dickerson was the #4 OT in his recruiting class in the nation. Coming out of high school he had an impressive 21 offers from teams from every P5 conference except for the Big-12. Dickerson committed to Florida State at first but in a last minute push decided to go to Alabama.
Alim McNeill / DT / NC State / Sanderson High School
McNeill was 6-2 / 272 pounds coming out of high school and led a dominant Sanderson defense holding every opponent in his senior year at or below 21 points except for twice against NC powerhouse school Cardinal Gibbons and eventual 4AA State Champion Wake Forest. The school lost in the second round of the McNeill came out of high school with 28 offers, again, from every conference except for the Big-12. McNeill decided to stay close to home and sign with NC State and has obviously found success playing for the Wolfpack.
Cornell Powell / WR / Clemson / J.H. Rose High School
Having a good WR on your team in North Carolina can make all the difference in the world and Cornell Powell is proof of that. During his senior year at J.H. Rose he led the team to the 4A State Championship only to lose to Private School Charlotte Catholic, who defiantly recruits players. So basically, J.H. Rose won a State Title. Powell had 16 offers primarily by ACC schools and hometown University ECU but who would not want to go play receiver for Clemson?
Dyami Brown / WR / UNC / West Charlotte High School
Unfortunately for West Charlotte even though they had one of the best receivers in the State they did not find much success with Brown at the core of the Wide Receivers ending the season with a 5-7 record. You cannot blame them though because the conference they play in is stacked with teams such as Vance, Mallard Creek, and Hough. During his senior year the West Charlotte Lions were knocked out of the playoffs by my Alma Mater, Hickory Ridge.
Chazz Surratt / LB / UNC / East Lincoln High School
Surratt played for a powerful East Lincoln team that average 44 points per game and 17 points allowed per game. Up until the 2AA semi-final game East Lincoln was undefeated. They were defeated by a Monroe High School that came out of nowhere looking to make a statement. Surratt had a total of 10 offers which was largely comprised of teams from both North and South Carolina teams.
Sage Surratt / WR / Wake Forest / East Lincoln High School
I guess Sage did not want to play with his older brother because he committed to Wake Forest even with an offer from UNC. The two brothers are considered by locals "The best football brother duo in North Carolina". It is rare we see brothers only a year apart make it to the NFL. In Sage's senior year he led the team to an 11-3 record once again losing to Monroe but this time in the 3rd round of the 2AA playoffs.
9 players from North Carolina in the top 100 of this year's NFL Draft prospects. I would say that that is an impressive feat. What I found most interesting is the number of players that came from 2A schools. While North Carolina has the 8th most NFL players currently playing in the league this position could always improve. Other than Florida, Texas, California, and Georgia, North Carolina only produces 12 less players than the next best state Ohio.
Author: Dawson Haywood
The Paul Brothers... this is a topic that as a blogger I absolutely hate to write about but as a sports blogger when the biggest name in boxing decides to come out of retirement to fight a YouTuber it is hard to ignore. The Paul brothers do their fair share of talking smack, especially the youngest brother Jake who is 3-0 in the ring. Both brothers have a background of wrestling at the high school level in the state of Ohio.
Logan Paul has only participated in one boxing math against YouTuber KSI and lost via split decision. It is no debate that the fights the brothers participate in are put into action to generate revenue. It was reported that Jake Paul won $690k in his last fight against Ben Askren which he won in a controversial knockout. We have seen celebrities do what it takes to bump up their reputation. For example we all remember when Justin Bieber posted videos of him crossing up and schooling opponents in pickup basketball. Is this the case for the Jake Paul or is he really just that good?
Since Logan Paul lost to KSI it is hard for me to see an outcome in which Logan wins a fight against the undefeated fifteen time world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather. Logan Paul on paper does have the physical advantage having a longer reach, being heavier, and taller than Mayweather.
If Mayweather were to lose this fight a lot of controversy would follow especially if he were to be knocked out quickly. As of April 28, 2021 the odds of this fight is Mayweather -2000 / Paul +900. While unlikely that Paul wins this fight there have been bigger upsets in boxing history. For example in 1990 Mike Tyson was a -4200 favorite to win against James Douglas but in the 10th round Douglas found a way to knock Tyson out. If Paul were to win this fight it would be tied as the 4th biggest upset in boxing history.
Due to the controversy of the legitimacy of the Jake Paul fights it is in my opinion that this fight is not good for boxing should Mayweather lose. Boxing fans will really begin questioning the direction boxing is taking and the legitimacy of fights regardless of how legit this fight may be. We know that the Paul brothers fight because it makes a lot of money and improves their reputation to some extent. Logan has not faced a real fighter before and as mentioned before lost to YouTuber KSI. This fight will no doubt be one of the most watched sport events of 2021 because of the following Paul and Mayweather have. The controversy that follows... well... we will just have to wait.
Author: Dawson Haywood
North Carolina has its fair share of professional sports teams and when people from other states think of North Carolina professional sports the Charlotte Hornets and Carolina Panthers are the two teams that bring in the most attention. There are actually 46 professional teams that span from minor league baseball, stock racing teams, hockey teams, and there is even a good number of minor league basketball teams that call North Carolina home. This article is going to focus on the 12 professional baseball teams that are located in North Carolina.
Without a major league team in North Carolina fans of the sport can still find a way to enjoy professional baseball in person without having to travel to the closest Major League cities Atlanta an Washington D.C. What is interesting about the minor league teams in North Carolina is that there are not teams that are affiliated with the Atlanta Braves or the Washington Nationals. The Major League team with the most affiliation with Minor League teams in North Carolina is the Chicago White Sox.
Minor League baseball is interesting because each Minor League team is independently owned but the players that represent the organization are employed by a Major League organization. For example, the Charlotte Knights have been affiliated with the Chicago White Sox since 1999 but previously had affiliations with the Marlins, Indians, Cubs, and Orioles. Minor League organizations are able to pick and choose their team name, city, ballpark, etc. The Minor League team is not responsible for paying the players.
Charlotte Knights (Chicago White Sox)
The Charlotte Knights will play in the new Triple-A East league in the Southeast Division this upcoming season and will continue to be a Chicago White Sox Affiliate team. The team has not won a league title since 1999 but has seen some success in recent history winning a division title back in 2012. The team plays at Truist Field located in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina right up the road from the Bank of America Stadium.
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays)
The Durham Bulls will come into the 2021 season also playing in the newly formed Triple-A East League. The team has a rich history of winning with 15 league titles, three of which have been within the last ten years. The team plays in the Durham Bulls Athletic Park which is also home to the Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina Central Eagles. The team has been affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays since 1998 but throughout the team's long history since its founding in 1902 it has been affiliated with 11 other Major League teams.
Asheville Tourists (Houston Astros)
The team that can be found playing in Asheville is one of the oldest teams in North Carolina with its first games dating back to 1897. The team has also been playing at McCormick Field just north of Biltmore Village since 1924. Though one of the oldest teams in North Carolina they have not seen much success over their long history only winning 7 total league titles. Throughout the team's history they have had five alumni be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Greensboro Grasshoppers (Pittsburgh Pirates)
The Greensboro team recently changed their Major League affiliate team in 2019 from the Miami Marlins to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team has had multiple Major League affiliates throughout it's history but found most of their success when the New York Yankees were providing players allowing the team to win back to back to back league titles in 1980, '81, and '82. The team has won just one other league title in 2011 with the Miami Marlins.
Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers)
The Crawdads came onto the scene in 1993 and have played in the South Atlantic League since its founding up until this year whenever the Minor Leagues were redesigned. Throughout their short history they have been affiliated with the White Sox, Pirates, and currently the Rangers. The team recently won a league title in 2015 and had won two others in 2002 and in 2004. Since their affiliate with the Rangers they have found themselves in the South Atlantic League Finals on two occasions. The Crawdads are one of the few teams in the Minor League that is owned by their Major League affiliate.
Winston-Salem Dash (Chicago White Sox)
The Dash had been the oldest continuously operating team in the Carolina League until the restructuring of the Minor Leagues this year. The team has been on a bit of a drought with their last league title coming in 2003. Most of those titles came from when they were affiliated with the Boston Red Sox between 1961 and 1984 winning 3 league titles during that time.
Carolina Mudcats (Milwaukee Brewers)
The Mudcats are one of the more wishy-washy teams in North Carolina as they have not yet been affiliated with the same Major League team for more than 7 years. The Milwaukee Brewers and the Mudcats have had a partnership since just 2017. Since 2008 the organization has gone through four affiliation changes and reasonably so. The last notable sign of success came in 2008 when they won a division title and before that their last notable sign of success came in 2003 when they won a league title in their first year affiliated with the Florida Marlins.
Down East Wood Ducks (Texas Rangers)
The Wood Ducks are one of the youngest teams in North Carolina being founded in 2017. In their Inaugural Season they won a league title and even won a first half title in 2019. The team plays in Grainger Stadium which is located in Kinston, North Carolina. The Texas Rangers have a trend in owning their teams and like their High-A affiliates the Wood Ducks are also owned by their Major League Affiliate. In 2017 the team was named by Ballpark Digest as the best logo/branding for Minor League Baseball.
Fayetteville Woodpeckers (Houston Astros)
The Woodpeckers are another young team in North Carolina also being founded in 2017. In 2018 the team won a league title in the Carolina League and in 2019 they also won a division title. The team is owned by the Houston Astros and they play in the relatively new Segra Stadium. The team is the first Minor League team to play in Fayetteville since 2000 when the Cape Fear Crocs moved to New Jersey. The Woodpeckers were a part of a two-team expansion in the Carolina League which also included the Wood Ducks. During their first two seasons when they played at Campbell University they were known as the Buies Creek Astros. The Astros ended up signing a 30-year lease agreement with the City of Fayetteville in December of 2016 so the city can expect the team to play in the city for a very long time.
Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (Chicago White Sox)
The Cannon Baller brand has yet to hit a baseball field due to COVID-19 but is expected to play in their inaugural season as the Cannon Ballers this summer. The team was founded in 1995 as the Piedmont Boll Weevils and was later rebranded to the Kannapolis Intimidators because NASCAR driver Dale Sr. purchased a share of the team. Due to a change in ownership and naming rights issues with the Earnhardt family the team decided to rebrand to the Cannon Ballers which is a name that Kannapolis locals are able to relate to. The team has not seen much success winning only one league title in 2005 and a division title in 2017. When the team rebranded to the Intimidators they also gained a new long time Major League affiliation with the White Sox. The team will play in one of the newest ballparks in North Carolina this summer.
Author: Dawson Haywood
The Charlotte area is notorious for being “America’s Home For Racing”. If you are from the area, it is hard to ignore how much of an impact racing has on the local economy. Along Bruton Smith Boulevard you pass ZMax Dragway, The Dirt Track at Charlotte, and of course Charlotte Motor Speedway. Off that same road is home to one of NASCAR’s winningest teams, Hendrick Motorsports. North Carolina alone is home to fifteen NASCAR teams but what a lot of locals may not know is that Kannapolis, North Carolina is also home to a Formula 1 racing team.
NASCAR fans became familiar with the Stewart-Haas Racing Team when three-time NASCAR Cup Champion Tony Stewart stepped away from Joe Gibbs Racing, another team headquartered in the Charlotte area, and made a deal with Gene Hass to drive for the team as well as receive 50% ownership in 2009. It was founded in 2002 as Haas CNC Racing after Haas, whose company was a sponsor of Hendrick Motorsports, elected to form his own team.
The NASCAR team races four Ford Mustangs driven by Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Chase Briscoe, and Cole Custer. Since the team’s founding, they have won two NASCAR Cup Championships in 2011 with Tony Stewart and in 2014 with Kevin Harvick. The team also has 65 wins on its resume since its founding. Stewart-Hass also provides the Xfinity Series with one racer, Riley Herbst.
The Stewart-Haas Racing Team also has a sister company, Haas Formula LLC. The two teams are separate entities because Tony Stewart does not have any stake in the formula one team and focuses on NASCAR business operations.
Formula 1 is vastly different than NASCAR and is significantly less popular in the United States. Formula 1 has 10 teams in the circuit which is significantly less than NASCAR’s 17. What is interesting and why Charlotte locals should care about the Haas Formula 1 team is because they are the only American-based Formula 1 team.
Formula 1 racing is the highest level of racing that is offered on the market today. Cars are built to be the highest class racing vehicle that money can buy. The Formula 1 World Championship is comprised of 24 races that take place across every continent except Africa and Antarctica. The most prestigious and popular race in the series is the Monaco Race formally called the Grand Prix De Monaco.
The most famous Formula 1 race happened in Monaco in 2010 when genius, billionaire, playboy, and team owner Tony Stark decided to participate in the race when he claimed “There’s no point in owning a race car if you can’t drive it”. The race was never finished because terrorist Ivan Vanko, who disguised himself as a trackside safety marshal, attacked Tony Stark’s vehicle in the middle of the race.
Formula 1 standings are split into two different categories the Driver Standings and the Constructor (or team) Standings. Racer Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes Racing Team have won every championship except one since 2014 and have shown no signs of letting up. They currently hold first place in both standings.
The Haas Formula 1 team is the youngest team to participate in the World Championship Series and is the first American-led team to enter the circuit in the last three decades. Their vehicles are powered by supercar manufacturer Ferrari and driven by German Mick Schumacher and Russian Nikita Mazepin.
The team came out the gate hot and had the best debut of a Formula 1 team in the 21st century. Since the team’s founding, they have finished as high as fifth in the circuit but have fallen over the last three seasons. With three races under this season’s belt, the two racers are currently standing in 18th and 19th position out of twenty, and the team is sitting at last place in the constructor standings.
Though the team has not had much success recently it is still interesting that Kannapolis, North Carolina of all places is where the only American Formula 1 team in three decades calls home. If the team were to be successful in the World Championship Formula 1 would likely become more popular for people in the local area and across the United States.
Author: Dawson Haywood
Heatin’ Up Podcast host Luke Gibson has signed a deal to play for the Atlanta Empire which is a member of The Basketball League, a minor league basketball association that hosts teams across the United States and Canada. In the 2021 season, the league is comprised of 29 teams spread across four divisions. The league is dedicated to providing world-class professional basketball to local communities and giving players an opportunity to make a living playing the game that they love. More than the competition the league has a large focus on community outreach providing basketball clinics and school visits to the communities that teams are located in.
The league was founded in 2017 by Sev Hrywnak and Dave Magley. Teams operate with a budget between $125k and $250k each year. The Basketball League allows teams to provide players with a salary that ranges between $1,500 and $6,500 per month or $18k to $78k per year. The league places teams in cities that have formerly hosted basketball teams and cities that provide a demand for professional basketball.
Athletes in The Basketball League are comprised of players that have backgrounds in collegiate basketball that are looking to kick off their professional careers in basketball. The league also attracts international players that wish to stay in the United States as well as former NBA and professional players that wish to continue their basketball career. Imagine if players like Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh decided they wanted to continue playing basketball and utilized The Basketball League to do so.
This fairly young basketball league has been fairly successful since its inauguration unlike Lavar Ball’s Junior Basketball Association, which left many athletes ineligible for the NCAA since it was technically a professional league as well as left many of these athletes without jobs. Once LaMelo and LiAngelo Ball entered the NBA draft the JBA ceased operations and has no future of reopening operations moving forward. The big difference between the two leagues is that TBL seeks out players that already have NCAA experience and are ineligible to return to the NCAA as to not mess up their futures in basketball.
The Basketball League will find success through its community outreach programs allowing teams and athletes to immerse themselves in the communities they represent. The league provides local markets with inexpensive, quality, and competitive basketball. Through sponsorships, ticket sales, and merchandising The Basketball League is able to generate enough revenue to support all 29 teams.
Though it is a step down from the NBA G-League, The Basketball League gives athletes an opportunity to continue playing basketball at a high level while being able to make a living out of it. The team has plans on expanding to more cities come the 2022 season with 6 new teams which will make The Basketball League the largest professional basketball league in the United States.
Author: Dawson Haywood
When I came to Western Carolina University as a Freshman in 2017 I was excited to come to a school with a football team. I knew that WCU was not anything special when it came to football, but needless to say, I was still glad there was a team I would be able to watch on Saturdays. In my first year, the Catamounts had a winning season finishing fourth in the conference but had a shot at winning the conference up to the last week of the season until they lost to the Mercer Bears. Needless to say, this was their second winning season within three seasons, which is rare here in Cullowhee, and things were looking up.
Because of the success they had during that first season, I wanted to be a part of the success I thought was to come. I made a few connections and before the spring of my freshman year and found my way to working for the team film crew. It did not take long to immerse myself into the team. I began right away working up until the summer. Due to my financial situation I was unable to continue volunteering for the team once fall came around but I still managed to keep myself close working for ESPN as a member of the camera crew at Western Carolina. I did that for the majority of my sophomore year, worked enough, and raised enough money to put me back into a position where I was able to volunteer again for the football team in the fall of my junior year.
What a ride that was. Unfortunately for the Catamounts, they ended up 3-9 with two of those losses coming from FBS teams. One thing I noticed out the gate during the season is that the team was operated a lot like a high school football program with a few more bells and whistles. The team would lift, condition, watch film, practice, and go home. That was their daily routine.
Another thing I noticed and is likely the reason for consistently losing records was the culture of the team. There was obviously a hierarchy of players that the head coach favored. There were beefs on the team that were never settled which often impacted the flow and energy of practice. Though watching fights and brawls break out during practice was entertaining for the film crew it was also upsetting because a team that is struggling to win games should not be fighting against one another.
During the 2019 season, though I was working with a very broken team, I did get to go to a few really cool places that I would not have seen had I not been a part of that staff. The first place we visited was Chattanooga which was not anything special but when you look at the Chattanooga sideline and get within five feet of Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Terrell Owens the whole trip was worth it even though the Catamounts allowed 60 points to be scored on them.
The next place I was able to visit was Wofford who absolutely smacked us 59-7. For my Carolina Panther’s fans, you may know this, but Wofford was at the time the training camp facility for the team. The away locker room that we were staying in was the same locker room that the Carolina Panthers used for training camp.
One of my favorite experiences with WCU Football was after the 2019 East Tennessee State, our rival, game. Western ended up winning that game in overtime and if you were in that locker room after the game you would have thought we had just won a national title. I swear the team played Fanito by Chief Keef at least five times following the game.
Finally, my favorite experience of my time at Western Carolina, the Alabama game. Driving into Birmingham, where our hotel was, we were escorted by the local police which kind of shocked me. I was then later informed that Alabama fans are nuts and love to mess with the away team if they can. I could not imagine someone messing with an FCS team that was coming into Tuscaloosa to get their butts wiped. It made sense though because just two weeks prior Alabama lost to the future national champions LSU so emotions were likely high for Bama fans.
The morning of the game the film crew traveled to Bryant-Denny before the team did to set up the locker room and equipment. Say what you will about Alabama but the staff that is running that place know how to show true Southern hospitality. Their equipment team allowed us to tour the locker room, equipment room, and stadium suites.
During pregame warmups, while Alabama was practicing on their half and the Catamounts were practicing on their half you could tell that Western was out of their element. Knowing that majority of the starters on that Alabama team would eventually end up in the NFL you could tell that the team was starstruck. As a few of the other student assistants and I were huddled around the 50-yard line an Alabama player walked up to us and asked “Where is Western Carolina?”. We further explained to him where our school was, what conference we were in, and what our crap record was only to later find out that that player was Jerry Jeudy.
That year Tua was hurt so Mac Jones started the game and Tua’s younger brother, Taulia, came in eventually, and between the two they only threw the ball 15 times and completed 12 of those. Of the 12 passes that were completed 4 winded up being touchdowns. Jaylen Waddle, Najee Harris, DaVonte Smith, Keilan Robinson, Jarome Ford, Mac Jones, Taulia Tagovailoa, and Brian Robinson Jr. were the eight players that scored touchdowns against the catamounts that day. At the end of the day, Alabama had racked up 310 passing yards, 231 rushing yards, 4 passing touchdowns, and 4 rushing touchdowns.
I think the best part of the game was halftime in the Western Carolina locker room. I understand as a coach you never want to see your team get absolutely smacked but I truly believe that our coach came into this game expecting to give Alabama a run for their money. Western Carolina had barely gotten away with beating a team that was an entire division below them earlier in the season. Coach Mark Speir was livid at the team during halftime accusing the team of having no pride and not being tough enough to give Alabama a run for their money. What is crazy is that their smallest receiver may have been just as big as our biggest lineman. That’s a bit of an exaggeration but you get my point. Even though the team I was working for was on the receiving end of that beat down I can admit it was fun watching that Alabama team stomp on us.
After that season COVID hit and there were some changes to the staff that led me to walk away from the team altogether. I cherish my memories working for the Western Carolina Football team but it was time for me to focus on what’s to come next. I could not tell you what’s in store for the future and where football will take me but I can assure you I am not done with the sport and somehow I will find my way back to it. For now, I will continue writing these articles, trying to sell some of these stickers (Visit our online store), and growing this website. Thank you all who have been consistently reading my content and supporting Ok Listen Here. Big things are coming soon for this small sports website!
Author: Dawson Haywood
The Charlotte Hornets are on a bit of a cold streak at the moment winning only four of their last ten games resulting in the Hornets dropping from 5th in the East to 8th. With LaMelo, Hayward, and Monk out it is very easy for Hornets fans to lower their heads and call it a season. Just another year without making playoffs. Perhaps I’m being a little too optimistic but I believe that Miles Bridges, Terry Rozier, and Davonte’ Graham can get it done. In these next 18 games, the players that are active are going to have to play some of the best basketball they have ever played. Teams like Toronto, Washington, and Indiana are creeping up and fighting for that #8 seed in the East.
It is difficult to justify the Hornets winning many games against Western Conference opponents but, other than the Nets, 76ers, and the Bucks, the Hornets could really compete against any other team in the East. The two teams not currently in the playoff picture that I would be scared of are Toronto and Indiana. The Hornets have done well at being able to keep games relatively close they just have to figure out how to clutch up during crunch time.
In the 2015-2016 season, Kemba Walker carried the Hornets to their second playoff appearance of the decade. Since a basketball team returned back to Charlotte no team has been able to make it past the first round. The difference between those Charlotte teams and this Charlotte team is that this team is a lot more balanced meaning, we are not relying on one player to show up and ball out to win a game. Instead, if one player is having an off night, another is able to pick up their game to compensate for the lack of production.
At any given moment Miles Bridge, Terry Rozier, Davonte’ Graham, and P.J. Washington can have a career game. Rozier has averaged the most points on this squad and P.J. Washington has led in rebounds for the majority of the season. Often overlooked by Ball and Hayward these two players are big reasons that the Hornets have had as much success as they have had this season, and they are not hurt.
The NBA is consistently competitive in both conferences especially in the bottom three seeds of the playoffs. A losing or winning run towards the end of the season can make or break a team’s playoff hopes. Lucky for the Hornets, the only team that is close to snatching that #8 seed is the Indiana Pacers who are only one game behind and they have been relatively hot recently. The next closest team is the Chicago Bulls who are four games behind and even with picking up Vucevic they are playing the worst basketball they have played all season winning just four of their last sixteen games.
The Hornets are the 9th youngest team in the league with the average age being 24.9 years old. On top of that, they are 5th is lowest average salary (Thanks to the release of Batum this number was brought down). With a young team and money to play with now is the Hornets’ time to become a contender and put an end to being the laughing stock of the Eastern Conference.
One final note, the Hornets need to bring back Rufus the Bobcat. He was the sickest mascot the world ever did see.
Author: Dawson Haywood
Collegiate basketball in North Carolina is filled with a rich history. In this state on the East Coast, we host arguably the most exhilarating basketball rivalry across the sport. North Carolina vs. Duke. The state is home to seventeen division one programs and twenty-eight NBA players. It is no secret that coming to North Carolina to play basketball in high school will give you exposure to some of the best high school talent the United States has to offer. Since we finally had a full season of basketball this year we are going to crown our “North Carolina College Hoops State Champion”.
1. North Carolina
Though Carolina did not have their greatest season they went 5-1 against in-state teams. They finished above Duke, NC State, and Wake Forest in the ACC this year which is the reason they are obviously above these teams. Duke was not able to beat UNC at all this year which is rare but UNC fans are always accepting to beating Duke twice in a year
Between Carolina and Duke, we could argue that they have won the state title every year with the exception of the few years Wake Forest or NC State was good. Duke was left out of the tournament this year which, as a UNC fan, sucks because it is always fun to go further than them in the tournament and brag about it for an entire year. Could Duke have made the tournament had Coach K not pulled them out? I’m sure they could because they are Duke and the tournament is not the same without them.
3. NC State
The Tobacco Road Trio takes the top three positions in this year’s rankings. NC State had a less than average year but because of a few significant wins and the difficulty of being in the ACC we will put NC State at #3.
4. UNC Greensboro
UNCG is the only team on this list to win their respective conference. Since it is not the ACC it is hard to dictate whether or not they should be ranked above NC State when their toughest games each year are against Wofford, who don’t get me wrong is a good team but it’s the Southern Conference.
Davidson finished 3rd in the Atlantic 10 which is home to a few notable programs that have a history of making a dent in the tournament. Guard Kellan Grady recently transferred from Davidson to Kentucky and was a large reason for Davidson’s success this year.
Author: Dawson Haywood
Every Memorial Day Weekend at the intersection of Bruton Smith Boulevard and US Route 29 thousands of people from Cabarrus County and around the United States gather to celebrate and honor the military personnel who died for the United States of America at an event all NASCAR and racing fans know as the Coca-Cola 600.
There is no doubt that Charlotte Motor Speedway is the safest place you can be on Memorial Sunday. Thousands of military personnel gather around the track to honor those that came before them. People who have not lived in Cabarrus County long are caught off guard on race day because of the multiple flyovers that occur over the track and surrounding neighborhoods. People who are not familiar with the event may think that a war is breaking out because each year there are pre-race military demonstrations that occur within the speedway. This in and of itself is worth the price of admission. It’s not every day you get to see helicopters flying what seems like ten feet in front of you followed by military personnel dropping in and demonstrating practices they do to prepare them for overseas challenges. As a kid, and even an adult, experiencing this is arguably the coolest thing ever.
On top of military demonstrations, Charlotte Motor Speedway generally invites bands to perform pre-race. In 2017 the Coca-Cola 600 hosted Lynyrd Skynyrd before the Military Demonstrations and the race. Needless to say, the place was rocking to Free Bird, Sweet Home Alabama, and other Lynyrd Skynyrd hits. Each year they always have some artist or band come on to perform for fans before the race.
Surrounding Charlotte Motor Speedway you will find thousands of fans camping, some being out there a week before the race. If you do not have the finances to attend the race, just go walk around the campgrounds. You’re sure to find some characters out there.
I haven’t even touched on the actual race itself yet. Charlotte is home to many major race teams and this race is almost the equivalent to NFL teams playing the conference championship in their home stadium. Many fans dictate who their favorite drivers are because of this race.
Thinking back to the 2017 Coca-Cola 600 I watched as Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch battled for the entire race for first place until they had to pit late into the race which led Jimmy Johnson to take over as the race leader. Truex and Busch were catching up and fast once they left the pits thanks to their fresh tires. Unfortunately for Johnson, who was on his way to win his fifth Coca-Cola 600, ran out of gas with two laps to go resulting in Austin Dillon taking the lead and eventually win the race. It was without a doubt the best race I had ever watched.
If you can make it out to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend you should. Other than the Super Bowl I doubt you will find a better event to attend. Race tickets are not super expensive and a lot comes included with the price of admission. NASCAR is the most engaging sports organization there is. From the cheapest $25 ticket to the most expensive luxury suit ticket, you are guaranteed to have a great day at Charlotte Motor Speedway.