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SportsTalk: Armanti Edwards makes a name for himself in the CFL

Armanti Edwards is a North Carolina sports legend. He would lead Appalachian State to consecutive NCAA Division I Football Championships in 2006 and 2007 as a quarterback.  When he was signed by the Carolina Panthers he trained as a quarterback and a wide receiver but never quite lived up to his potential with the Panthers and eventually an injury along with management changes meant Edwards’ days in Charlotte were numbered. He moved on to the Cleveland Browns and then to training camp with the Chicago Bears but never found a place in the NFL. Edwards NFL stats were underwhelming only throwing three passes, catching six and running the ball three times. He also had fifteen kick-off returns and forty punt returns. He never scored a single touchdown during his four NFL seasons.

Out of football for a couple of years, Edwards has made a remarkable turnaround in the Canadian Football League. Armanti, who spoke with WIZS’ Trey Snide on Thursday’s SportsTalk said it was an easier transition to the CFL than to the NFL. His NFL experience was what made this transition easier as he was more prepared than when he first came out of Appalachian State.  He also credits much of his success to his mentor, Ricky Proehl who was an assistant coach with the Panthers. “Proehl made a difference by teaching me the position’s skills,” Edwards said.

In 2016 Edwards made his debut with Saskatchewan in the CFL playing in four games and grabbing nineteen passes for 231 yards and a touchdown but it was 2017 where Edwards really showed his abilities. Having been signed by Toronto, he helped the team when the CFL Championship 83 receptions, 962 yards and four touchdowns. In 2019 he had over one thousand yards receiving.

This years Edwards has taken his talents to the Edmonton Elks who kick off their season on August 5th. “I’m ready for the first hit,” Edwards says of the first game. “We are looking good on paper,” Edwards added about the Elks chances this season.

While we may remember him most for his quarterbacking skills at Appalachian State, he has certainly caught on, pun intended, in the Great White North of Canada.


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SportsTalk: Duke athletics has a long and distinguished history

Granville County author and historian Lewis Bowling knows a thing or two about Duke University’s rich athletic history. Not only has he been a fan of the Blue Devils all of his life, he has also written two books, Wallace Wade: Championship Years at Alabama and Duke in 2012 and Duke Basketball: A Pictorial History in 2014. Bowling has also taught sports history and is a staff writer for Go Duke The Magazine. 

He remembers being able to walk up to the box office at Cameron Indoor Stadium 15 minutes before tip off and to purchase a ticket, something you could not do today. Bowling says, “I like to remind people that Duke basketball has a rich history before Coach K.” He cited contributions from many earlier Duke basketball coaches for establishing that history beginning with Wilbur “Cap” Card who was the first coach in 1905 when Duke was still known as Trinity College. That first team also featured Thad Stem Sr., father of the well known author Thad Stem Jr., as the team’s very first captain. Stem Sr. would go on to become a prominent lawyer and mayor of Oxford.

In the 1920’s Eddie Cameron took over the Blue Devils, and he coached until the 1940’s. Cameron Indoor Stadium is named for Cameron, who also coached football at the school in the early to mid 40’s. “He didn’t get the recognition he deserved,” Bowling says. This is in spite of the fact his name is on Duke’s basketball arena. “Cameron isn’t remembered for the various contributions over the years,” Bowling continued.

Bowling credits Bill Foster for bringing Duke basketball back to prominence in the late 1970’s and feels the team will be in good hands when Mike Krzyzewski steps down after the upcoming season. Assistant coach Jon Shyer will take over, and Bowling says he will add to the Duke basketball tradition.

Bowling says Duke football is equally deep in tradition. Wallace Wade had won three national championships at Alabama when he was offered the job at Duke for the 1931 season. “He shocked the nation by taking the job,” Bowling said. Duke was not known as a football school at the time. Wade led the team to two Rose Bowls. The first, in 1939, saw a Duke team that had not been scored on the entire year and was undefeated lose to Southern California 7 – 3. Duke would return to the Rose Bowl in 1942 and would also come up short as the undefeated Blue Devils lost 20 -16 to Oregon State. The game was moved to Durham that year due to World War II.  Wade would join the military in 1942 and turn the program over to Eddie Cameron who coached the team until Wade returned from military duty in 1945. Wade would remain until 1950. Duke’s football stadium is named for Wade.

Wade’s successor was Bill Murray, who was hand picked by Wade. Murray led the team to a Cotton Bowl victory in 1961 and would coach the team through the 1965 season. Bowling said that between 1931 and 1965 Duke’s won-lost record was as good as any team in the country.

Bowling said the Duke football program began to slip after 1965 and would struggle for over 20 years to return to prominence. In 1987 Steve Spurrier took over as head coach and turned the program around. Bowling says the football program is currently in great hands with David Cutcliffe and despite only winning three games last year should be a much stronger team this year. Bowling says Cutcliffe keeps a bust of Wallace Wade in his office and late at night Cutcliffe can almost hear Wade talking to him.

Bowling’s two books on the history of Duke athletics can be purchased at Amazon.

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SportsTalk: Ray Noel and Granville Central Look Forward to New Conference

Granville Central High School Atletic Director Ray Noel was obviously disappointed at his school’s 3 – 1 loss at the hands of Perquimans County on Wednesday night in the Eastern finals of the state baseball playoffs but is looking forward to a new conference for the upcoming school year.

Perquimans County had won its previous playoff games by scores of 13 – 0, 10 – 0 and 10 – 0 but Granville Central held them to only 3 runs and was leading in the bottom of the 5th inning but came up short in the end as they were unable to put together a rally at the end.  Graduation will certainly have an impact next season. “We’ll lose three seniors and two of our top hitters are seniors,” Noel said. However, Noel feels that next season’s team has an excellent chance of having a good year.

Next year will find Granville Central playing Oxford Webb, South Granville, Vance County, Carrboro, Southern Durham and the Durham School of the Arts in a new conference. While the School of the Arts does not participate in football the other schools will present a challenging schedule. It should be a football season that is closer to normal than last season when the team only played six games in the spring due to the pandemic.

Covid has also pushed spring sports back with programs such as track and wrestling still playing. The track team will finish this weekend in the state championship.

Like so many other schools in the area Granville Central is a small school that shares players among its athletic programs which impacts activities like basketball workouts. There have been no basketball jamborees or camps this spring because so many of the players are involved in other sports.

Noel said that the boy’s soccer team, which won last year’s conference championship is poised to have another strong season and he feels good about the growth that soccer has seen in recent years. He also feels the football team will also be competitive next season and looks forward to seeing big crowds at games this year which began to return with Granville Central’s playoff run in baseball.

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SportsTalk: Richardson has Crossroads Christian in preparation for next year

Crossroads Christian Athletic Director Scottie Richardson is deep into the school’s Summer Season, which consists of workouts for the various athletic programs and figuring out how to plan work out and practice times. “We have an internal master Excel-Google spreadsheet,” Richardson joked about how the school’s coaches stay on top of things during the off season. Since Crossroads is a small school the various programs tend to share players and Richardson said one of the challenges is time management and organizing schedules so there is no overlap.

Richardson said that basketball camps have seen excellent participation over the last couple of weeks and that all sports are currently engaged in preparations. “Hopefully, it will pay off end-season,” Richardson said of all the work that coaches and students are currently putting in. “We try to make it a year round program,” Richardson added.  The boy’s basketball team has been especially busy travelling to UNC-Charlotte and UNC-Pembroke to participate in basketball camps playing nine games in three days and then following that up with a home and away Summer exhibition versus Oxford Prep. Richardson said it was a great experience for his team.  Last Covid prevented the team from engaging in any type of off season workouts and camps.

Not only did Covid take a toll on schedules but there was also a financial impact on the school. Richardson said that $15,000 was lost in concession sales last year. Volleyball and basketball are the big revenue sports for the school and Richardson hopes this year will be a return to normal.

Richardson said that this year teams are also engaging in activities together off the court and fields as well helping them to develop a unity that will transfer to games during the upcoming school year.

Richardson added he is looking forward to fans and students returning to stands and bringing a renewed school spirit to the games.

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SportsTalk: Lance Stallings Ready To Get Back To Work At Vance Charter

Vance Charter Athletic Director Lance Stallings is enjoying some downtime. While vacationing at the beach or anywhere else this time of year is enjoyable, Stallings is ready to get back to work and gear up for the upcoming school year.  Stallings says it’s the part of the year where he is “making sure everything is ready to rock and roll.”  In preparation, the basketball and volleyball teams have already been in the gym.

Not only are the teams getting ready but Stallings says that facilities are also getting prepared. An upgrade to the gym’s lighting systems has now been completed. “It will be a different atmosphere,” according to Stallings now that the new system is in place.  No other facilities upgrades, improvements or construction are planned at this time.

Stallings will be overseeing volleyball, cross-country and men’s soccer as well as lacrosse during the fall athletics season.  He says his student athletes have adjusted and adapted to the changes that have happened over the last year and are ready for a return to something closer to normal this fall.

Stallings has been impressed with the growth the school’s lacrosse team has made making the playoffs in only its second season. The school is the only one in Vance or Granville County with a lacrosse program and, by starting from scratch, the team has become like a family.

His expectations for all of the school’s athletics programs go beyond picking up wins and appearing in playoffs. “What can we do to be our best” is the expectation. Whether that’s on or off the field or in the classroom, Stallings wants to see his students win at life. He says being a part of Vance Charter is very very special. When asked the best part of being the AD at Vance Charter, Stalling said, “Seeing the kids smile.” Once back from vacation, Stallings should have plenty of opportunities to see just that.


Noel Loved Baseball, Talking Local Sports On WIZS

The WIZS family is mourning the loss of one of its own, Ron Noel, who died Wednesday. Noel co-hosted the Tuesday and Thursday sports show with Trey Snide. Thursday’s show was dedicated to Noel, in appreciation for his enthusiasm for local sports, especially in Vance and Granville counties.

Joe Sharrow, Vance County High School athletic director, shared the mic with Snide on today’s program, and the two shared memories about their colleague and friend.

“He was a great man,” Sharrow said. “He was the type of person who wouldn’t want things to stop because of him,” he added.

WIZS colleague Bill Harris called in to the show to remember Noel. “When I would fill in for you on Sports Talk,” Harris told Snide, “I would rely on (Ron’s) wealth of knowledge of local sports to get me through the program.” He could talk about coaches and players on various teams and various sports, Harris said. “I would let Ron go on because he just knew so much.”

Noel loved baseball, but he was interested in, and knowledgeable of, other sports as well.

“He was always prepared,” Snide said. When he’d come into the studio at 12:30 for the 1 p.m. show and the sports news was a little slow, Snide said Noel would simply say “let’s do local.” “That’s what we’re all about,” Snide said, appreciative of the fact that his co-host was always game for talking about what’s going on in the community.

“We love you, we appreciate everything you’ve done for us,” Snide said in remembering his friend and colleague. “We loved your excitement,” he added, saying that Noel listened to the show every single day.

Sharrow said Noel “always had a positive twist on things…he had a long-term vision – you lost this one, but you’re going to be all right down the road,” he said Noel would say after a tough loss.

Whether he was walking into a gymnasium in Vance County or Granville County, or a favorite spot to meet buddies and swap stories – the  Oxford Bojangle’s –  it seemed that Noel greeted friends wherever he went.

“He was ‘the guy,’Sharrow said. “He knew everything that was going on anywhere – in Vance, Granville – it could be anywhere in the state,” he said. He lived in Granville County, but he worked at J.C. Penney in Henderson for many years, so his love for both counties was evident.

John Charles Rose phoned in to express condolences to Ron’s wife, son and extended family on behalf of the radio station. “We thank Ron for the contributions he’s made over the years and for his family sharing him with us,” Rose said via telephone. He said Ron “always came in with a topic to talk about,” and really enjoyed talking about local sports.

Sharrow said the local sports community has lost several important figures recently – Joe Stepusin, Clay Faulkner, and Wilton Baskett.

Baskett was known for being a flashy dresser, and sporting school colors courtside, Sharrow recounted. The yellow coat at Northern Vance, then the green coat at Vance County High School games – Baskett wore them proudly. “He really believed in dressing professionally,” Sharrow said, adding that Baskett told him that he’d never coached a game without a tie on

“Ron was his tailor,” Sharrow said. “Ron is the one who picked those clothes out!”

Snide recalled Noel’s thoughtfulness to others, but especially to him before airtime. He would call up before coming to the radio station and ask if we wanted something for lunch – chicken or hotdogs, usually. “That just goes to show what kind of person Ron was,” he said.

Later today, Noel’s son, Ray, will probably be on the sidelines at Granville Central High School in Stem as the Panthers host East Wake Academy in the second round of the baseball playoffs.

Sharrow said he talked with his friend and GCHS athletic director Wednesday night and the younger Noel said he was going to be there. “He said, ‘this is what my dad would want me to do,’” Sharrow said.

Sharrow and others in the local sports community will be there tonight to support their friend and colleague. “And,” Sharrow said, “I’m absolutely pulling for the Panthers tonight.”

SportsTalk: Vance Charter Ladies Preparing Early For Basketball

Basketball season may be a few months away but Vance Charter Ladies Varsity Coach Brian Howard already has his team hard at work in preparation for the upcoming season.  “Off season has been pretty good.” Howard said. “We are into our off season workouts. We are averaging 10 to 12 girls a day,” Howard continued.  Howard characterizes that as a huge turnout.

The groundwork for the upcoming season was laid out at the end of last season. Howard told his team, “If you want to play on this team you have to do off-season workouts.” During these workouts Howard and his staff are tracking every piece of data possible such as made shots, made three throws and made three point shots in an effort to improve on last year’s 7-3 record. According to Howard the result of tracking these data sets will be having the right people in the program and the right people in the right spots on the floor when the season begins.

Coach Howard says he expects the Lady Knights to be better prepared and in better shape due to the off-season workouts. It’s also giving him and his staff the opportunity to install new and improved offensive and defensive schemes. Howard feels that this will put Vance Charter’s program ahead of many others. His team will feature four seniors and he singled out rising freshman Amber Reavis as someone the team will rely on heavily.

Last year’s 7-3 season ended with a 44-33 loss at the hands of Gates County in the state playoffs, but this year will find Vance Charter in a new conference. Howard says the new conference will be interesting. Meanwhile, the Lady Knights have two more weeks of workouts to get through.

For complete details and audio click play.


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SportsTalk 05-27-01 Carolina Cobras

It’s football season! I know the calendar says May and High Schools just wrapped up their season and the NFL is still a few months away but the National Arena League kicks off the 2021 season tomorrow night beginning with the defending NAL champions, the Carolina Cobras, taking on the Jersey Flight. Head Coach Joshua Resignalo spoke with Trey Snide and Ron Noel Thursday on WIZS Radio’s SportsTalk about the prospects for his team this season.

While the 2020 season was cancelled due to Covid, Coach Res, as he is called, said Covid “put a hinder on all businesses.” He also said that even with the cancellation of the 2020 season it didn’t shake up what the Cobras wanted to do. Players are signed to seasonal contracts and he has been able to bring back players originally signed for last season. It’s been 18 months since the 2019 championship game in Jacksonville, Florida and Coach Res has spent the down time putting together the best roster that he could for the team.  Along with the players he brought back from the cancelled 2020 season, he has also added seven players with ties to the Triad and Triangle. “Bringing in local players was a big emphasis. It helps with marketing in the community,” said the coach.  Many players on the team use their playing time with the Cobras as a way to either get back to the NFL or as a stepping stone from smaller colleges to the NFL or CFL.

Coach Res expects the Cobras to be physically ready for tomorrow night’s game however, “mentally ready is going to be the key,” Coach Resingalo says of the first game of the season. He says the Jersey Flight offers a good challenge as they were able to pick up players from the now defunct Arena Football League which closed up shop in 2019. “Pretty experienced,” Coach Res said of the Flight.

The Cobras have made it to the NAL championship game for the last two seasons, and he expects the team to be there again this season.

The Cobras play their home games at Greensboro Coliseum and will have a four game home stand beginning on June 19th after two road games to kick off the season. For those interested in watching the Carolina Cobras play, tune in to the NAL Youtube channel. There you will find all of the game broadcasts for the entire league.

For complete details and audio click play.


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SportsTalk 05-27-21 Barry Moore, Granville Central Baseball




The Granville Central Panthers Varsity Baseball team started off 0-3 but have since put together five consecutive wins and look for a sixth tonight as the school welcomes the Louisburg Warriors for a 6pm game.

Head coach Barry Moore said freshman Brenden Chamberlain will pitch. The team has struggled with pitching this season and have walked too many batters which he attributes to the youthfulness of the team. “Our team is still young,” Coach Moore said. He said the team has three seniors that are big contributors as well as a couple of freshman who have helped out. Despite the pitching struggles Coach Moore says that aspect of the team is improving.

“Now is a lot better than it was several weeks ago. It feels like over the last couple of weeks that we are where we should have been at the beginning of the season,” Coach Moore said.

He feels the team missed some opportunities to beat Roanoke Rapids in the season opener but are now dialed in to where they should be. The team currently has a .306 batting average and their on base average sits at .455 this season.

Coach Moore expects a big turnout for tonight’s game as the Granville Central Panthers look to improve to 6-3 against Louisburg.

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SportsTalk 5-25-21 Malia Simmons, Vance County High School

Just after graduation from Vance County High School yesterday, Vipers Softball player Malia Simmons signed a letter of intent to play for Winston-Salem State yesterday. Simmons, who has set a number of school records, began as a Southern Vance Raider but finished her high school career as a Vance County Viper. “We were not the best. We had what we had. We had to make it work,” Simmons said about her high school years.

In addition to playing softball at Winston-Salem State, Simmons will be majoring in nursing. She said Winston-Salem State has one of the top nursing programs in the state and after talking to the school’s head softball coach, she said choosing the school was the best decision for her.

“Super Excited,” said Kim Simmons, Malia’s mother, about the choice of schools. “She had several college offers,” added Ms. Simmons. Kim said of her daughter, “I didn’t expect her to succeed like she has.” She also encouraged her daughter by telling her, “Reach for your dreams, the sky is the limit.”

“I’m really proud of the choice she is making,” said Malia’s father when asked about her decision to attend Winston-Salem State.

In addition to school and softball Malia also worked full time creating a difficult schedule for her and her parents. The hard work and commitment has paid off for Malia as she will continue her softball career and further her education at Winston-Salem State.

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