Doubling down


Hoggard's Trevor Singleton (31) keeps the ball away from New Hanover's Shaun Bell (12) during the game at New Hanover Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. (Photo by Photo by Mike Spencer)


Hoggard senior Trevor Singleton got to the quarterback for two fourth-quarter sacks in last Friday's win over Laney, the latest highlights in his continued development on the gridiron.

The same physical tools that helped the 6-foot-7 Singleton earn 2012-2013 StarNews Boys' Basketball Player of the Year honors have served him well in his first season of varsity football. For at least a few more weeks, the versatile forward will remain more focused on tackling and catching passes than rebounding and dunking.

Basketball practices are scheduled to begin at public schools across the state Wednesday, but most boys' teams will have to wait longer than last year to field their full complement of players.

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association switched back to a 12-week football regular season this fall. When football used an 11-week schedule the past two years, the final game of the regular season fell before the first day of basketball practice.

This time, most football teams have two regular season games left as basketball begins, and players advancing to the football state championship will miss more than six weeks' worth of basketball practice and games.

"I'm almost right now planning like I'm coaching two different teams," said Hoggard basketball coach Brett Queen, who expects as many as nine football players to make his varsity squad. "I've got one set of things we're going to do now and one set of things to add when we get to full strength."

While basketball coaches benefitted from the compressed football schedule, the NCHSAA opted to revert back to the previous calendar after complaints from football coaches, according to associate commissioner Rick Strunk.

Some teams had opted to schedule 11 games in as many weeks plus playoffs, creating concerns about the physical toll on players. The extra week also allowed for improved scheduling flexibility.

The challenge for the basketball coaches varies depending on personnel.

Of the Wilmington schools, Hoggard should have the most shared players this season. Queen said he's never had to postpone a game before football players joined the team but would consider the possibility if the Vikings win two football playoff games.

Queen's team is slated to open the season on Nov. 25 against Jacksonville and play three games that week.

At tiny Wallace-Rose Hill, it's difficult to start basketball season before the Bulldogs wrap up football. Coach Steve Robinson actually has a handful of basketball-only players this year, though early workouts will feature mostly shooting drills and conditioning.

Robinson prefers to have his full team together for a week before its first game, but with the football team's recent success, it has been a challenge to make the schedule work.

"By the end of a long football season, the guys are banged up and beat up and tired, and they need some days off," Robinson said. "In our situation, we can't afford to give them any days off."

North Brunswick basketball coach Bryan Hayes said rescheduling games can be the better option than playing short-handed and taking an unnecessary loss. Coaching at a Class 2A school hopeful for a deep football run, he's already looked at options for shuffling the schedule.

"I don't want to go into a contest with a pieced together team because so much of our placement in the state tournament depends on the nonconference schedule," Hayes said. "We don't want to jeopardize something that could happen in February because of what happened in November."

First-year Ashley coach David Rutledge is plenty familiar with the challenges of navigating the football season, coming from perennial state power Mallard Creek.

Since taking over in May, Rutledge has worked to install a high-tempo offensive system. He said it's important to teach the concepts well from the first day of practice, and then the latecomers can pick them up more quickly with help from the non-football players.

Laney will have much of its core basketball group on the floor Wednesday, though expected starting point guard Tariq Lane is busy playing quarterback for the football team right now.

"I try to look at it as a positive thing," Laney coach Nathan Faulk said. "It's giving a chance for somebody else to show me what they can do and maybe enhance their role prior to him coming."

Last year, the New Hanover football team made it to the third round of the 4A playoffs, and then-senior Trevon Brown joined the basketball team for the White Oak Jamboree scrimmages the day after the season ended.

If the Wildcats advance to the third round in football this year, players would miss the first two weeks of the basketball regular season. The team is only slated for one game in that time, but the schedule ramps up quickly with 10 games in December.

"(Coach Kirk Angel) keeps me on track about what they're doing," said New Hanover senior Parese Williams, a wide receiver and forward. "He gives me all the papers, so I can look over them. I know in the back of mind it's coming soon, but not too soon, I hope."



Eric Detweiler: 343-2261

On Twitter: @starnewsvarsity

 

One or the other

The end of high school football and the start of basketball have overlapped in recent years, but this season, that overlap is as large as it's ever been. With first basketball games allowed this year on Nov. 18, some two-sport athletes will be behind when it comes to time on the hardwood.

Football 1st Hoops

Last Game Practice

2013 Nov. 8 Oct. 30

2012 Oct. 26 Oct. 31

2011 Oct. 28 Oct. 31

2010 Nov. 5 Nov. 1

2009 Nov. 6 Nov. 2