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A sports desk goodbye....

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While High School Baseball and Softball playoffs begin next week, unfortunately, this will be my last column for the Rutherford Weekly.

So...things happen.

I do still have local ties with The Daily Courier and the Morganton News Herald and will still cover events as needed with those publications and possibly more down the line. I am not going anywhere per say. You can still find me at sporting events around the area.

In case I never get to do something like this again...I wish to thank some people.

I want to thank my family first of all. It's been a passion of mine for nearly 25 years and it took some time for them to see it evolve. I thank Chanse Simpson for his belief in me nearly 18 years ago as a writer to start this whole journey off back in my college days. I want to thank Mike Marlow and the Rutherford Weekly for letting me do this for over eight years as more than 400 columns were published.

I want to thank Steve Parham, Scott Bowers, Josh McKinney, Jacob Conley, Bill McDaniel, Paul Schenkel, Jay Coomes, Alan Ford and I am sure there are others I am missing in the business, who I still consider friends and have helped me along the way.

To all our county coaches and school staff who have made me feel welcome over the years...I thank them as well. Greg Wright, Sam Hooper, Brad Levine, Brian White, Mike Cheek, Clint Bland, Brad Causby....etc.

I thank our young men and young ladies who, past or present, have competed in high school athletics. I hope they continue to do so and represent our county well. It has been a joy to cover them over the years. I hope to continue that for 18 more years in some way down the line, but no promises.

Two things that standout from my time with the Rutherford Weekly.

1) East Rutherford basketball 2011...I was privileged to cover the journey all the way to Chapel Hill, where East would capture the 2A title over Northwood. The behind the back pass from Raheem Hampton to Devince Boykins for the slam to seal the game was just an unbelievable moment in time. That whole season was something I will never forget.

2) R-S Central Baseball 2017....The Hilltoppers finally made it to a title fight. While they ended up losing in two games to Holmes. Defense and pitching are extremely important and they did it well that year. It was great experience in going to Raleigh for that title series.

East Rutherford baseball has been there a number of times and the last title in 2016 was a bit of a shocker. However, Kendall McGowan and Ethan Stewart were just not going down without somebody proving they were better.

There was also a time when Thomas Jefferson went all the way to the 1A State soccer boys finals, but lost. The Gryphons have also come a long way in football as well. The ladies soccer team absolutely began the whole change in winning sports programs at TJCA.

At Chase, they too had a state title game in Men's soccer which they lost. So, all four schools within the county have made it to a state title series or game in the last eight years. Very few counties in this state can say that.

For the readers who enjoyed these columns every week and the sponsorship of Fastway Oil Change, I appreciate you the most. If not for you, these last eight years would not have been possible. And just like that...sadly...it comes to an end. God bless!

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