David Combs is the new South Lenoir baseball coach

I have confirmed with two independent sources that David Combs, a Southern Wayne grad who played baseball at LCC and Mount Olive College, is the new baseball coach at South Lenoir. More details shortly.

Still no word on who is going to take the South Lenoir football job … but it’s not as pressing as baseball, which begins in a few weeks.

Congrats to Coach Combs on getting the position — although I’m still perplexed why former Kinston coach Jason Wade didn’t really get a solid shot for it. I’m also perplexed why Paul Novicki didn’t make a serious run for it. Ryan Herman should have something for Wednesday’s paper about it — and the Hermanator will have ALL the details!

Tim Jenkins out at South Lenoir

I’ve confirmed with two independent sources that Tim Jenkins, the football and baseball coach at South Lenoir, has resigned to become an assistant coach at East Duplin. A replacement for Jenkins — who only coached one year at SL — has not yet been announced, although it should be worked out this week by SL Principal Steve St. Amand and Athletic Director Lisa Smith.

Thanks to longtime blog supporter Jonathan Davis for giving me the tip on this nugget.

My take: Interesting development, especially since Jenkins announced on our podcast earlier this season (I’m trying to find the link and I’ll post it here tomorrow) that he was going to be at South Lenoir until he retired or unless he got fired.

I’m never going to denigrate a man’s career choice, but this one hurts for South Lenoir. It’s bad enough Jenkins is leaving the Blue Devils program(s) in a lurch — baseball workouts begin REALLY SOON (this week, I think?) — but to leave Deep Run for Beulaville? To be an assistant? Dang.

I hope Coach Jenkins was/will be classy enough to address his team and look those freshmen, sophomores and juniors in the eye to tell him he was leaving … ESPECIALLY after he was staying there “until he retired.”

Morning News Report; April 26, 2012

Sorry I’ve been away, bloggees — real life is a bitch. Anyhoo — a pretty special MNR:


Former Kinston High School/UNC football star Quinton Coples will likely be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft tonight. He’ll be first player in Lenoir County to earn the honor.

My take: I couldn’t be more proud of a young man who has worked hard to get to this point in his life. I’ve watched him and covered him since he was in the eighth grade and playing recreation basketball for Larry Powell with Bo Ingram and the rest of the “Six Shooters.”

He’s been a stand-up young man who did what was best for his family and himself when he left Kinston as a senior — a decision that has helped him to where he is today: on the threshold of becoming a multi-millionaire NFL player.

A behind-the-scenes look at what we’re doing tonight at TFP: we’re hoping he is selected earlier rather than later because we’ve switched press times with one of our sister papers, giving us a little bit later deadline than our typical ridiculously early deadline. Award-winning page designer Richard Clark has a freaking fantastic front page ready, so … Carolina Panthers — TAKE QUINTON COPLES!


When legendary North Lenoir baseball coach Jim Montague’s Hawks take the field against Kinston today, they’ll be going for the coach’s 350th career victory.

My take: One thing I’ve always liked about Coach Montague — he never takes credit for his team’s success but always takes the brunt of their losses.

Some of the best times of my journalism career was covering those championship teams in 2005-2007, with Sthil Sowers, Brandon Sutton, Andrew Manning, John Alphin and the others. In 20 years of covering prep sports, I’ve never seen a pitching combo like Sowers and Sutton, who were as confident and successful as any pair of high school pitchers EVER. Montague coached his tail off, too, and if a certain western N.C. school hadn’t put together an all-star team to take down North Lenoir, the Hawks would’ve had three straight state titles.

Congrats, Coach! Stay around for 400!


When the Charlotte Bobcats take the court against the New York Knicks tonight — on national TV, no less — they’ll be trying to avoid their 23rd straight loss and the infamy of being the worst team in NBA history (by percentage).

My take: Yikes. I’ll be pulling for the Bobcats … but if I were a betting man, I sure as heck wouldn’t bet on them.

And check out this scatching Chicago Sun-Times column on Bobcats majority owner Michael Jordan. Yikes again.


Contrary to popular belief, there is actually a primary for the Republican nomination for governor. While the Democrats have had several debates and forums, the GOP has had none, since everyone naturally assumes Pat McCrory (who has been campaigning for the last four years anyway) will get the nod.

One Republican, though, is challenging McCrory to a debate.

My take: If I were him, though, I wouldn’t hold my breath. McCrory has nothing to gain by debating a Republican challenger … nothing. All he’d do is lend credence to that opponent.

The iPod shuffle

Against The Wind — Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

Summer of ’69 — Bryan Adams

Evverybody’s Talkin’ — Harry Nilsson

Drop It Like It’s Hot — Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell

Hand On The Glock — Cypress Hill

This week’s NCPreps.com poll and how I voted

Here is a link to this week’s statewide NCPreps.com basketball polls; I’ll spoil it for you and let you know Kinston’s boys are still No. 2 and Kinston’s girls are still No. 8 in the 2A poll.

Also, East Duplin’s girls are at No. 9 in the 2A poll, while Jones Senior — who I voted No. 1 — is at No. 8 in the 1A girls’ poll.

How I voted this week:



1. Charlotte Olympic

2. Garner

3. Wilmington New Hanover

4. Fayetteville Pine Forest

5. South Mecklenburg

6. Apex

7. West Charlotte

8. Raleigh Millbrook

9. North Mecklenburg

10. Hoke County



1. Chapel Hill

2. Morganton Freedom

3. Rocky Mount

4. Erwin Triton

5. West Craven

6. Charlotte Harding

7. Concord

8. North Forsyth

9. Hickory

10. Winterville South Central



1. Waxhaw Cuthbertson

2. Kinston

3. Bunn

4. Ashe County

5. Trinity

6. Lincolnton

7. East Rutherford

8. Shelby

9. Reidsville

10. Wilkes Central



1. Winston-Salem Prep

2. Hendersonville

3. Hayesville

4. Northampton-West

5. South Davidson

6. Rocky Mount Prep

7. North Rowan

8. Lejeune

9. Warsaw Kenan

10. Ayden-Grifton




1. Charlotte Myers Park

2. Hope Mills South View

3. Cary Green Hope

4. Raleigh Millbrook

5. McDowell

6. Raleigh Broughton

7. Winston-Salem Mount Tabor

8. Southeast Raleigh

9. Durham Hillside

10. Greensboro Dudley



1. West Craven

2. Hickory

3. R-S Central

4. Rocky Mount

5. Gastonia Forestview

6. China Grove Carson

7. Winterville South Central

8. Charlotte Berry Academy

9. Burlington Williams

10. Northern Nash



1. Wilkes Central

2. Salisbury

3. Jordan-Matthews

4. Kinston

5. North Stanly

6. North Surry

7. Catawba Bandys

8. East Duplin

9. Newton-Conover

10. North Lincoln



1. Jones Senior

2. Chocowinity Southside

3. Goldsboro

4. Riverside-Martin

5. Robbinsville

6. Salemburg Lakewood

7. Mount Airy

8. South Davidson

9. Kernersville Bishop McGuinness

10. Warsaw James Kenan 

On Coach Hines, Coach Eason, Joshua Lovick and polls

Some nuggets for your perusal tonight:

  • Really enjoyed putting together this story on Shonda Hines, the head girls’ basketball coach at Rochelle Middle School. Not only is she a successful coach at RMS, she also helps Hubert Quinerly with the varsity team at Kinston HS and is the mother of three great young men in Curtis “Nootsie” Hines, Dory Hines and Reggie “Tigger” Clark Jr. It was truly an honor to write that story — she’s a great mother who deserves a lot of praise.
  • One of the good guys in our area — and arguably, one of the most humble — was honored last week when South Lenoir thanked its retiring baseball coach, Troy Eason, for his 28 years of service to the program. I could do an entire post on Coach Eason (and probably should), but the ol’ ball coach wouldn’t want that. I’ll say this about the coach — I’m not sure I’ve ever been around a coach who truly didn’t want any acclaim than Coach Eason. He truly wanted to have all attention on his kids, not on him. Good luck in retirement, Coach!
  • David Hall did a fantastic job catching us up on the progress of ECU/former Kinston star Joshua Lovick in a Sunday article. Josh might be one of the smartest and — like Coach Eason — one of the most humble young men I’ve ever covered. Hope he gets a chance to show his stuff this year, but even if he doesn’t, it’s coming for him. Heck of a kid, heck of a family.
  • With their loss at North Pitt last week, Kinston’s boys fell in this week’s NCPreps.com 2A poll. The Vikings were No. 1 the previous two weeks, but fell to fourth behind East Rutherford, Waxhaw Cuthbertson and undefeated Croatan. The Kinston girls remained eighth in their poll, while the Jones Senior girls stayed at No. 7 in the 1A poll.

Morning News Report; Sept. 13, 2011


Here is Ryan Herman’s story on Kinston High School baseball coach Jason Wade’s firing.

My take: I feel much the same way as I did yesterday when I broke this on the blog – this is a stupid move and one that will set KHS baseball back at least five years. I’ve since talked to several parents of current players and I know this much: some of these players will be transferring to other schools because of this decision.

It is kind of crappy that she decided to do this AFTER school started in an attempt to keep kids from transferring. If she had made this move before school started (and she had the opportunity to do so), it would’ve been easier for them to do so.

And I am perplexed this decision was made without conferring with the athletics director.

Regardless, keep your head up, JWade — you’re a faithful man and I know God has other things for you out there. Maybe next time you’ll go somewhere you’re appreciated.

I’ve already talked to about a dozen coaches, teachers, parents and athletes at KHS — and not one of them is happy with this decision. I know this much: Ms. Bryant stirred up a whole pot o’ stuff with this move (and other decisions she’s made); I’ll have more here later.


A gay marriage ban and potential amendment to the N.C. Constitution passed the state House last night, 75-42. The bill — which would put the potential amendment on the May 2012 primary ballot — now moves to the N.C. Senate.

My take: Seriously? With no money for teachers, our state budget hemorrhaging money and all the other problems our state has … we’re going to waste time and money on keeping dudes or lesbians from marrying? Seriously?

I’ve been pretty straight-forward from the jump on gay rights — I think homosexuals have as much right to be miserable as straight folks. If they want to marry, by golly, let them. It’s been proven time and again, you don’t choose to be gay, so why punish them? And that’s what you’re doing when you deny homosexuals basic rights.

North Carolina prides itself on not being the back-woods type of state like our neighbors in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. You enact this type of bill and our state won’t be getting the kind of progressive companies such as Google to relocate here. But it’s all right … we have tobacco and textiles to fall back on.



Remember that Northern Guilford team that cheated to win a 3A state title in 2009 (the one that beat Kinston in the Eastern Regional finals that year)? Well, now some parents and coaches from that dishonored squad are trying to win the title back in court after the NCHSAA stripped them of it following a school board investigation in Guilford County.

My take: Another idiotic move from a program that continues to make idiotic moves. This has NO CHANCE (yes, in all caps so maybe it’ll be read in Guilford County) of being successful. In fact, if the NCHSAA is forced to restore NG’s 2009 championship, I’ll paint the school’s mascot on my chest and perform a dance on The Free Press’ front yard.

I wouldn’t get the ol’ camcorder fired up, though, ’cause it isn’t going to happen.

By the by, here’s a good column from FOB and highschoolOT.com’s Nick Stevens on the matter. And he’s right.


Baseball’s former bad boy, Manny Ramirez, was arrested for a domestic violence incident yesterday.

My take: First, he retires instead of sitting out a 100-game steroid suspension and now this? He certainly wasn’t going to be a first-ballot Hall of Fame player … now, he’s probably NEVER going to make it to Cooperstown.


I didn’t post it here last month but I’m sure most of you heard about the Burlington Williams quarterback who died two days after leading his team to a season-opening victory.

Investigators now know why the young man passed away — Harry Cohen took his grandmother’s pain medication and it caused him to have a heart attack.

My take: A tremendously sad story but one that kids all over the state can learn from — DO NOT take medication unless it is prescribed to you. This young man was in the best shape of his life and he couldn’t handle his grandmother’s medication. Just because you feel like you’re Superman or Superwoman doesn’t mean that you are.

Also, please take a moment and read the story — it is extremely well-written by Freedom Communications’ Roselee Papandrea.

The iPod shuffle

Sassafras Root — Green Day

Mama Said — The Shirelles

Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me — Elton John

Saturday In The Park — Chicago

Wild Horses — The Rolling Stones

P.S.: I can eat crow with the best of ‘em, so here goes … congrats to Freedom ENC Desk Chief Richard Clark, who whipped my candy ass in our HBFL Live opening game this week, 108-97. What makes this sting more is this was Richard’s inaugural game in fantasy football while this is the start of my 17th year playing. Damn. While I’m at it, congrats to two-time defending HBFL Online champ Brent Pelletier for beating me, 87-79, in Week 1 of that league. Sheesh.

P.P.S.S.: And we’ll close today’s MNR on a somber note — a great man passed away on Sunday in the person of the Honorable Rodney R. Goodman, a longtime Kinston judge. I got to know Judge Goodman while I was dating his niece and he was certainly a funny, smart and wise man. Please join me in throwing some prayers up there for Judge Goodman’s family.

New Kinston principal fires Jason Wade

I’ve just had this confirmed by two independent and anonymous sources: new Kinston High School principal Angela Bryant has fired baseball coach (and FOB) Jason Wade. No reason was given for his dismissal other than for “personnel reasons.” He will remain at Kinston as a teacher.

Ms. Bryant immediately named first-year teacher Mike Ellsworth the interim baseball coach, although he’s likely to remain on as the permanent coach. Ellsworth met the team at an afternoon meeting.

I’ve also been told that KHS Athletics Director Wells Gulledge had no knowledge this move was going to be made — this was Ms. Bryant’s decision. I have not spoken to Coach Gulledge yet, but I hope to do so this afternoon.

My take: I’ve only met Ms. Bryant once (on the sideline at the Kinston-South Lenoir football game last month), so I really don’t know her. I also can’t — for the life of me — understand this decision, either.

Coach Wade has been the best thing for KHS baseball since Ronnie Battle — the program saw a few coaches come and go, but Wade brought respectability and stability to it, the first time that had happened since Coach Battle retired after the 2003 season.

Frankly, unless Coach Wade killed someone (and I’ve not seen a police report to that effect), this is an extremely stupid unwise move on the part of Ms. Bryant. I don’t know Ellsworth at all, either, but I can assure you he’s not a homegrown Lenoir County product who has personally taken pride in improving the Vikings’ program and facilities.

Ryan Herman is putting together a story on this, so I can’t wait to see the explanation given for JWade’s dismissal. Stay tuned — as I learn more, I’ll share more here.

Morning News Report; Aug. 15, 2011


Free Press Sports Editor Ryan Herman takes a look back at Kinston in 1961, when a baseball team captured the city’s imagination by winning a state title. He takes time to talk to a trio of players from that team (including current Kinston Indians official scorer Steve Oliver), and they tell him what it was like to win that title and what Kinston was like in the 1960s before Vietnam, drugs and the love of money took over the country.

My take: Herman has written some good stuff since he got here almost three years ago — but this might be the best. If you haven’t taken the time to read it, check it out.

Yes, Kinston has declined in the past 50 years; while virtually every county and city around Kinston and Lenoir County has grown, our area has stagnated to the point of falling behind. There are a lot of good things going for Kinston/Lenoir County right now — but there needs to be some serious cleaning up to get us back to those 1960 levels.

Having a pro-active mayor in office has helped, but it’s going to take the hard work of everyone — and not a bunch of bitchy whiners hiding behind screen names on a website — to get this mess turned around. If you care about Kinston and the future of our town, get off your ass and help — there are plenty of opportunities out there to do so.

On a side note: I/we took some heat from some parents for not covering a banquet for the recent 11-year-old national championship team from Lenoir County. Herman had two great stories on the sports front of the TFP (with teases on the front page). We were hit with some calls from the parents wanting us to cover their banquet this past week at King’s Restaurant.

We decided not to cover the banquet for several reasons, but chiefly for this: we’ve never covered a championship banquet before, for any team. On top of that, we’re severely understaffed right now with our two-man sports crew (Herman and David Hall) preparing for prep football (which kicks off Friday night), along with the final K-Tribe season winding down and ECU football heating up.

We are extremely proud of those kids for representing Kinston as well as they did and we are going to run a photo in the Tip-Off section of TFP in a future edition.


An awful tragedy occurred Saturday when a stage collapsed at a Sugarland concert at the Indiana State Fair. At this moment, five have died and dozens more are injured, some critically.

Here’s a video of the collapse:

My take: Terrible, just terrible. Obviously, our prayers go out to those affected by this tragedy. And while it’s virtually impossible to predict acts of God, someone, somewhere should’ve made the decision to evacuate the area before something like this could happen.


Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced over the weekend he is running for the Republican nomination for president.

My take: While I think the GOP has a pretty weak field out there at the moment, I certainly don’t think this move strengthens the bunch. In fact, if anything, Perry — an uber-religious man — pushes the Republican field further to the right.

Don’t take that as me saying there doesn’t need to be some delineation between whichever GOP candidate and the very left-leaning President Obama in the 2012 race — but it’s going to be a hard sell to moderates if Perry wins the GOP nod.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann — despite Newsweek’s attempt to make her look crazier than she already looks — is the apparent leader in the clubhouse with 14 months to go before the election. But is she — or Mitt Romney or Perry — strong enough to take down a weak Obama? I really don’t think so at this moment.

The iPod shuffle

In A Big Country — Big Country

Break Ya Neck — Busta Rhymes

Give It Away — Red Hot Chili Peppers

Honey, I’m Home — Shania Twain

Bitch — The Rolling Stones

Morning News Report; Aug. 8, 2011


Following the lowering of the United States’ credit rating from AAA to AA+ late last week, the U.S. stock market dropped 200 points in the first few minutes of today’s trading.

My take: And the economy continues to worsen. I’m betting there are some of my banking buddies here and all over the country who are sweating it a bit this morning…


In two tales of prep sports woes, the South Johnston football program was fined $400 and given probation for illegal activities this summer. In the Southeastern Regional of the American Legion national tournament, Cherryville Post 100′s season ended in a double-forfeit after a melee in Sumter, S.C.

My take: You might be asking — what do these two incidents have in common? The reputations of the respective coaches is the answer.

Joe Salas brought South Johnston to unparalleled heights in South Johnston’s football history — but he did it in unclassy fashion, including that infamous 84-6 defeat of North Lenoir on the Hawks’ Senior Night in 2009 when Salas had his team run up the score in the fourth quarter.

Salas resigned under pressure by the South Johnston administration late last month because of the NCHSAA investigation.

Post 100′s coach — Bobby Dale Reynolds, who also coaches East Rutherford High School’s baseball team — is arguably one of the best coaches in North Carolina’s prep baseball history. He’s won seven Legion state championships and several NCHSAA titles.

He has also drawn the ire of Legion and NCHSAA officials on several occasions with his boorish behavior through the years. I can promise you this: Reynolds’ poor reputation among Legion officials (national and state) sped up their decision to force the double forfeit. Why else would they double-eliminate both teams when it was clearly the Georgia team that instigated the behavior in the game (watch the video at the above link)?

Allow me to add this: I covered Cherryville Post 100 baseball for six or seven years when I was a stringer and reporter for the Gaston Gazette and Shelby Star in the 1990s and early 2000s. I love those folks in Cherryville and at Post 100 and I hate what happened to those kids — they deserve much better than what happened to them. Maybe this will be the impetus to show Post 100 officials they can do much better than the coach they have in place now.

South Johnston administration learned that lesson and that program will be better for it.


Steve Williams, the former caddie for Tiger Woods, caddied for Adam Scott, who won this weekend’s Bridgestone tourney in Ohio. Afterward, Williams — who was unceremoniously dumped by Tiger a few weeks back — essentially took the credit for the victory, a fact that is rubbing some of those in the golf community the wrong way.

My take: I didn’t watch the tourney, but from what I’ve read and heard on sports talk radio this morning, Williams didn’t take any of the shots or make any putts for Scott.

Someone just needs to tell “Stevie” to STFU … until his best-selling novel about being Tiger’s caddie hits bookshelves. THEN he can talk about whatever he wants.

The iPod shuffle

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band (Reprise) — The Beatles

Smells Like Teen Spirit — Nirvana

I Don’t Wanna Cry — Mariah Carey

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For — U2

The Original Miami Vice Theme — Jan Hammer

P.S.: I was invited to participate in a fantasy football draft by FOB (and two-time HBFL Online Draft champion) Brent Pelletier on Saturday — and had a blast. I’ve played fantasy football since 1995 but took part in an auction draft for the first tim in my life. Can’t wait to do my next one. Thanks, BP!

C.J. Bradshaw, JWade, Region 2 win State Games

Congratulations to Kinston High School’s C.J. Bradshaw and coach Jason Wade for leading Region 2 to a State Games championship over Region 5, which is made up of athletes from the Winston-Salem area. C.J. finished 1-for-2 with a double in today’s 5-2 win. Here’s a picture of the champs:

Click on the photo for a better view — and congrats, C.J. and Coach!