Championship Saturday

Hats off to the Gray’s Creek Headhunters and the Westover Colts for winning county football championships Saturday at Daskal Stadium.

The Headhunters clipped the Myers Lions, 19-12, while the Colts topped the Lake Rim Panthers, 14-6.

I had another appointment Saturday, so I had to leave after the first game between the Headhunters and Lions. So, as a result, the video I have is all from the first game.

I moved that appointment back so I could watch the Gray’s Creek game. Maybe you read this story back on Nov. 14. I’ve had plenty of e-mails and phone calls that were less than supportive of Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation’s stance on this.

As a reporter, I tried very hard to stay neutral.

Seeing a 12-year-old boy stand in his jersey and watch his teammates collect trophies while he didn’t get one made it pretty hard.

Watching him cry a few minutes later made it impossible.

This was handled wrong. Period.

If the folks at Fayetteville-Cumberland say that they don’t allow non-county residents to play, that’s fine. But it’s not as if the Wrights lied about their address on their preseason paperwork. It says they live in St. Pauls. Just like it did last year. And the year before.

Unless I’m missing part of the story, and that’s entirely possible, someone lost to the Headhunters this season with Gabriel Wright playing quarterback, got angry about it and complained to the recreation department.

That’s when they came up with the innovative decision to allow the team to keep its five regular-season wins, of which Wright was a part, but bump him from the playoffs.

I wish that person could have seen that young man, his mother and his father standing around crying 10 minutes after winning a county title. It bothered me all weekend. I can only imagine what that scene might have done to someone with a guilty consciousness

Here’s what I’d like to see happen:

1. I’d like to see a rule written and clearly displayed on all registration forms and the Web site. If the rule is no non-county residents, spell it out. If exceptions can be made, spell them out, too.

2. I’d like to see a non-recreation affiliated option for parents to appeal decisions made by the department. During the Wrights’ appeal, the Advisory Board met and ruled against the Wrights. And Janine Wright heard about it from me. I’m sorry, but that just won’t do.

3. Someone owes the Wrights an apology. I’m not really expecting this one to happen, but it really, really should.

I know that there are good, hard-working decent people that work long hours at the recreation department. They care deeply about the children of Cumberland County and strive hard year-round to make sure that there are dozens of programs for them available.

I know some of them personally, and they’re good people.

But that doesn’t mean much to the Wrights right now. This was an unfair and cruel lesson for a 12-year-old to endure.

And, on a happier note, here’s some video:


9 Responses to “Championship Saturday”

  1. Joy Says:

    This is regarding the person who initiated the action that resulted in Gabriel Wright being taken off the team for the playoffs. If he were to jump from his ego to his IQ he would fatally injure himself.
    How pathetic and sad for everyone.

  2. Joseph Says:

    It was a sham that Gabriel Wright was punished for something he had no control over. Sounds like the kid just wanted to play football. I agree that there should be rules written and displayed on the registration forms, and the Recaration Center should have caught the problem at sign up. If you could get the soccer results it would great.

  3. DEANNA Says:

    In any other situation he would have been OK to play because his dad is/was a coach. Even after all the bull his dad stuck with it Gabe hats off to you, your parents and the players who were willing to walk off the field and give up the trophies to make a statement. But at Gabes request his team mates took the trophies they worked hard for all season.

  4. Fred Says:

    Headhunters are like Myers. Always looking for ways to bend/break the rules. Sorry for the kid but the Coaches knew exactly what they were doing.

    2 of the most crooked teams in Cumberland County Played in that game.

  5. Itsabouttime Says:

    It looks like the Headhunters didnt’t need the young chap to win in the playoffs. They should have let the kid , but I guess the rules are the rules when they don’t apply to your situation.

  6. Headhunter 4 Life (ROB) Says:

    Congrats to the Headhunters (HH)!!!! Gabe and his family have been with the HH for the past 3 years; and some @** has a problem w/it this year. Through all this they stuck w/the team and his parents NEVER stop supporting the team (his dad coached and his mom continued the duties of being a team mom). What excuses will they have next year, when the HH do it all over again. Those kids worked really hard for every game that they won this year (undefeated).
    As far as the guy who stated that these 2 teams were crooked, you don’t have a clue. Coach Foster is by far the best coach to EVERY coach this sport. He can take any group of kids and turn into winners, and while doing it he will gain the Respect of the kids as well as the parents. He instills discipline in the kids and provides them with leadership that will make them outstanding citizens by ensuring that they understand that they are student athletes (notice STUDENT is 1st). He gives players “word of the day” after practice such as team work, responsibility, courage, etc. and have them come and give the definition/example of the word after the next practice.
    You tell me; does this sound like a team that would try and cover up Gabe and win unfair.
    Wait……., before I am done. I never really notice no super stars on the HH team. They all came together and made it happen. Their defense only gave up 3 touchdowns this season (2 of those were to the lions in the Championship game).
    If you ask Coach Foster who is his MVP he will most likely respond and say “they ALL ARE, I have a team of MVP’s. We are the BOYZ from the wood line; we make it do what it do”!!!!

  7. Kris and Tony Says:

    I’d like to personally thank Janine and Grover, Coach Will, and Coach Haines. Janine, Grover, and Will welcomed my child onto their team with open arms and made us not only feel welcomed but like family. These people are very down to earth good christian people. I am personally offended by the comment that we were a crooked team. Those children practiced and played their hearts out and deserved to be the champions. As far as having a player outside the county, the buck stopped at the recreation center when they took the Wright’s money and added Gabe to the team. My child has played football out of state and here. I’ve been around many crooked coaches and these people are far from being crooked. PREACH on Coach Will!

  8. Taylor Says:

    I feel you people that think these boys are crooked are wrong,because my brother is on that team and he knows how to play football. I met Imoni,Arie,thier moms,some good coaches.THE COACHES I’M talking about are Will,Grover,Janine,and Haines.

  9. allen Says:


    I see that I am late to comment on this one but I could not resist. For those in Fay. who have never been any where youth sports are run as proffessionally as recreational sports allow, it is probably hard to understand that Faytteville does not know the difference between a recreational program compared to an AAU league or realistically, they don’t care. Stacked teams and lame excuses were all we saw and heard here, after playing, coaching and sponsoring teams in south florida for at least four different sports and fifteen seasons. The city of Fayetteville, Bob Gibson and those like him just do not get it and their recreational sports leagues will be deeply lacking until they do.

    Two seasons and we were out. This city should be ashamed.

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