2021 top sports stories: Pirates’ bowl game canceled, interest in Godwin, Houston


(Ashley Turner, WNCT illustration)

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Sports always seem to play an important part in our everyday lives.

There were a lot of important moments in 2021. From two high school football seasons in a calendar year to success for the East Carolina University baseball and football teams — which generated interest in those head coaches from other schools — there were a lot of things happening in the local sports world.

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Below are the top 10 most clicked moments from WNCT.com involving everything from high school to college and other sports. These are the stories you found most interesting in 2021.

10. Report: ECU baseball coach one of three finalists for LSU job

Success breeds success and everywhere East Carolina University baseball coach Cliff Godwin has gone, he’s been successful. In fact, his team’s appearance in this year’s Super Regional had schools like LSU interested in his coaching services. Ultimately, Godwin stayed in Greenville but it was a nervous stretch as he was one of at least three finalists to be the next coach of the Tigers. Godwin was previously an assistant coach at LSU.

9. COVID-19 scare leaves Wolfpack with 13 players for CWS game; Vanderbilt wins, 3-1

COVID-19 ended N.C. State’s incredible college baseball season that saw the team advance to the College World Series. The team was missing four starting position players and had only 13 available for its game against Vanderbilt, which it lost 3-1. The team soon learned it would not be allowed to play any more games at the CWS due to the COVID issues.

8. ECU working on deal to keep Houston, staff after coach’s names appears on wish lists for Duke, Va. Tech jobs

East Carolina’s success this season in football also made coach Mike Houston an interesting prospective hire. His name came up for openings at Duke and Virginia Tech. Ultimately, ECU worked out a new contract for Houston and his staff.

7. ECU’s Military Bowl game canceled due to COVID-19 cases within Boston College program

East Carolina arrived in Washington, D.C. ready to take on Boston College in the Military Bowl. The Pirates arrived, held two practices, spent Christmas in the area and took part in other activities. Early Sunday, the school and Military Bowl officials announced the game would not be played due to COVID-19 issues within Boston College’s team.

6. Titletown: Tarboro picks up eighth state title, second straight with win over Mitchell in 1-A championship

Winning a state title in any sports is no easy task. Winning two in one calendar year is almost unheard. Yet, COVID-19 led to the cancellation of the 2020 high school football season. Instead, the games were played in spring of 2021. Tarboro win the 1-AA state title and beat East Surry, a team it lost to the previous year, in the process. Seven months later, Tarboro would win another state title, taking the 1-A title against Mitchell County. Tarboro now has eight state titles in football, also winning it all in 2018, 2017, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 1994. Tarboro is now 8-4 in state title games.

5. South Central boys basketball team forfeits playoff game due to COVID-19; Southside boys also forced to forfeit

The South Central High School boys basketball team forfeited its Tuesday state playoff game with Rolesville due to COVID-19 protocols. The forfeit ends a season where the Falcons were 13-0 overall and were the No. 5 seed in the Class 4-A state playoffs. Southside’s boys also had to forfeit due to COVID-19 cases within its team.

4. Five-run fourth, Myrick’s two-run homer help J.H. Rose rally to win Class 3-A baseball state title

J.H. Rose had an interesting week leading up to its seventh state title in school history. Rose beat rival D.H. Conley in the Eastern Regional final then had to endure terrible field conditions and rainy weather to win twice against Cox Mill. A five-run fourth inning followed by a two-run home run by Grayson Myrick gave Rose a 9-4 win in the deciding second game, which was played at Terry Sanford High School in Fayetteville after being moved from J.P. Riddle Stadium in Fayetteville. The win gave Rose its seventh state title under legendary head coach Ronald Vincent and the school’s first since 2008.

3. Duke studying how top athletes are impacted by COVID-19 infections

An interesting study revolving around COVID-19 and athletes, conducted by Duke University, drew a lot of curiosity from readers at WNCT.com. Duke reported its study was originally looking to understand how the hearts of athletes are impacted by high-level athletic activities. The study shifted its focus to COVID-19.

2. Suspended Peace University basketball player says she was called racial slurs

The Peace University women’s basketball team forfeited a chance at its conference championship to stand in solidarity with a teammate who was disciplined for her part in an incident during which she said she was the target of racial slurs.

1. Crash has sidelined Southside High senior, but his spirit remains strong as team plays for him this season

Garrett Short had the incredible story of a Southside High School football player who nearly lost his life in a tragic crash. Despite what happened to Southside senior Shantez Clark, he remained strong and became a rallying cry for the Seahawks, who so desperately wanted to win a state title for him.

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