SPORTS

Top high school baseball team in nation remains unbeaten

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – When you’re the No. 1 high school baseball team in the nation, in both the USA Today and MaxPreps rankings, each game feels like so much is on the line.

Olympia baseball

Olympia won the Florida League High School Invitational on Saturday to improve to 17-0-1.

Orlando’s Olympia High School improved to 17-0-1 on the season Saturday while defending its Florida League High School Invitational title with a 2-0 win over Pembroke Pines Charter at Lake Brantley High School.

The national attention will continue to follow the Titans as they near postseason play.

“We try not to focus on that,” Olympia coach Chuck Schall said. “The rankings and all that, it’s always there, but we try not to let those expectations dictate how we play.

“Every time we win these close ballgames it just makes us tougher.”

Olympia is winning close games thanks to a stable of quality pitchers and equally impressive efforts defensively.

(Read more about Olympia’s recent win at Orlando Sentinel and 740 The Game)

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Carnahan Chronicles Radio: Sam Gardner of FOX Sports talks 1985 Villanova championship team

Three of the four NCAA Tournament games played in Jacksonville in the Round of 64 were decided by three points or less, highlighted by a memorable upset of No. 3 Baylor by No. 14 Georgia State.

Arkansas, North Carolina and Xavier also advanced and Sam Gardner of FOX Sports was there to see it all play out.

Gardner joined the show Saturday to talk about the start of the tourney. He also shared details about recent interviews he conducted with players and coaches from the 1985 Villanova men’s basketball championship team for an anniversary story that was published earlier this week.

Read about the improbable journey for that Villanova squad at FOXSports.com and keep up with Gardner on Twitter for more out of Jacksonville.

Duke legend Christian Laettner featured in new ESPN 30 for 30 film

Like most people with any amount of good taste in the early 1990s I grew up rooting against Christian Laettner and those Duke Blue Devil basketball teams. Yet for some reason my interest was peaked when anticipating the new 30 for 30 installment I Hate Christian Laettner.

Maybe it was the 90210 sideburns and haircut he sported that turned me off. Or maybe it was all that winning that Duke did. Whatever it was, the road down memory lane Sunday was a reminder of all the animosity we once shared for a player and program that appeared in four-straight Final Fours and won two national titles.

It’s not one of the better 30 for 30’s, considering the subject matter and that it’s narrated by Rob Lowe, but it’s a worthy look at what made one of the greatest college basketball players so polarizing among fans.

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Carnahan Chronicles Radio: Interview with North Florida basketball’s Romelo Banks

The University of North Florida basketball team is likely to be one of the only programs in the state taking part in the NCAA Tournament when the games tip off this week.

Among the players that helped the Ospreys earn an automatic bid by way of claiming the Atlantic Sun title is 6-foot-11 sophomore Romelo Banks, who played at both Liberty and Celebration high schools while growing up in Kissimmee, Florida.

Banks joined me on the show Saturday to talk about advancing to the NCAA Tournament, the passing of his mother at a young age to cancer and how he’s used her memory as inspiration throughout his academic and athletic career.

North Florida joined the Division I ranks just a decade ago and will play in the NCAA postseason for the first time under head coach Matthew Driscoll.

Carnahan Chronicles Radio: Breaking down opening week of wild NFL free agency

A wild start to free agency this week has a number of players in the National Football League relocating to new parts of the country.

Among the surprising moves was one made by Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, who opted for more money by joining the rival Philadelphia Eagles.

On Saturday we discussed the decision by Murray and broke down the moves being made this week by the local NFL teams in the state of Florida.

Kaká free kick helps Orlando City Soccer Club draw New York City FC in inaugural MLS meeting

ORLANDO – Fans rose to their feet each time Kaká touched the ball during the Major League Soccer debuts for both the Orlando City Soccer Club and New York City FC.

But it took a little more than the length of the match for locals to get what they came to see at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

Kaká delivered a crucial goal, thanks to a lucky bounce, that evened the match after NYCFC took the lead in the 76th minute. Spain’s David Villa set up U.S. national team member Mix Diskerud for a score from the top of the box that put the visitors in front and seemingly ruined the day for the Lions.

But the Brazilian legend tied the match on a free kick in the 91st minute by deflecting a shot off of defender Jeb Brovsky, who provided an otherwise fiery presence throughout the match.

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Orlando City Soccer Club poised for grand return to Citrus Bowl

The Orlando City Soccer Club called the Florida Citrus Bowl home for three of their four seasons in USL PRO before spending last year at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports.

With an agreement reached late Wednesday between Major League Soccer and its players’ union, the Lions will make a grand return to the Citrus Bowl on Sunday for their first MLS match against New York City FC at 5 p.m.

The club expects 62,000 fans to be on hand for what is shaping up to be the biggest sporting event in the area in recent memory.

The last time OCSC played at the Citrus Bowl – on September 7, 2013 – Dom Dwyer scored four goals and the Lions claimed their second league title in three years with a 7-4 win over the Charlotte Eagles.

The announced crowd that night? A respectable 20,886.

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Carnahan Chronicles Radio: Will strike threaten start of MLS season?

The Orlando City Soccer Club is poised to open its inaugural Major League Soccer season on Sunday, March 8 against fellow expansion side New York City FC.

But there’s still plenty of uncertainty surrounding negotiations between the league and players’ union that could threaten a big opening weekend for MLS.

Valencia Voice and The Skyboat editor/contributor Danny Morales joined me on the show Saturday to talk about how a player strike might impact the hype locally surrounding OCSC and the start of the MLS season.

Orlando City announced Monday that they’ve sold 60,000 tickets for Sunday’s match at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

NASCAR wrecks that changed racing

Today’s Daytona 500 looks a lot different than it did decades ago. Although that’s a bummer for most purists of the sport, the advancements in safety that’s since altered races has proved necessary at each and every turn throughout NASCAR’s existence.

Take a look at the YouTube video below posted by MarkED912 featuring a long list of the crashes that have changed NASCAR over the years.

Carnahan Coverage: Tim Mitchell has rebounded in major way since high school basketball days

Tim Mitchell didn’t survive roster cuts his junior year at Orlando’s University High School. The following year he played a major role though in a successful season for the Cougars, setting the stage for where he is today. I had a chance to cover Mitchell during my time at the East Orlando Sun newspaper during the 2007-08 season. Below is an edited version of a story I wrote about him for the January 3, 2008 edition.

Tim Mitchell_EOSunBut first an update: Mitchell is currently finishing out his senior season at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida after helping lead the program to its first trip to the NAIA Division II tournament a year ago. Southeastern entered the postseason unseeded but finished third in the country after earning wins over No. 16 Huntington (Ind.), No. 1 Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) and No. 9 Davenport (Mich.), before falling to the eventual champions, No. 5 Indiana Wesleyan, in the semis.

Mitchell led all tournament players with nine blocked shots and averaged 10 points and 10.3 rebounds in four games for a team that finished 27-7 overall. During the 2013-14 season Mitchell blocked 67 shots and shot 58 percent from the floor while averaging 13.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Southeastern is currently 15-11 overall and 9-8 in The Sun Conference.

ORLANDO, Fla. – When Tim Mitchell was unable to secure a roster spot at University High School before the start of his junior year, he had all but given up on his prep playing career.

It seemed as though the closest he’d get to a varsity basketball game would be while watching from the stands. That’s about the time reality set in for the 6-foot-7 post player as he began accounting for his own actions, or lack thereof.

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Carnahan Coverage: No. 22 UCF baseball pushing for first postseason trip since 2012

The UCF baseball team reached a regional championship game in 2012, capping a back-to-back run in the postseason with one of the strongest squads in recent memory.

A year ago the Knights lineup featured a majority of players new to the program, yet they barely missed out on being selected for the NCAA Tournament.

Entering this season UCF has just five players on roster from that 2012 team. But the experience this group garnered a year ago has them ranked No. 22 in the Baseball America preseason rankings.

I spoke with senior JoMarcos Woods and head coach Terry Rooney for the Orlando Sentinel this week about how valuable that experience will be this year. The Knights will face five teams this season that open ranked in the Top 25.

Carnahan Chronicles Radio: Soccer Futurist Ted Westervelt talks about state of the sport in United States

The Orlando City Soccer Club opens its Major League Soccer season March 8 after dominating the competition the past four years in the lower-division USL PRO.

That’s if players don’t strike while demanding free agency and fair wages from MLS as collective bargaining conversations continue this month.

On Saturday I was joined by “soccer futurist” Ted Westervelt of Soccer Reform and Pot Hunting on AM 740 The Game to talk about the current CBA situation, the lack of promotions/relegation in the US, and other soccer topics here stateside.

Be sure to follow Ted Westervelt on Twitter and take part in what you love and hate about his opinions. From my point of view, it’s safe to say he’s fairly acclimated to the abuse by now.

Carnahan Chronicles Radio: Super Bowl Sunday trouble, new football league, angry high school soccer dad and National Signing Day hype

I found myself caught up in a couple of crazy circumstances a week ago and decided to share those stories on the show this past Saturday.

For starters, my carelessness while running late to a Super Bowl party resulted in banging up the car of Mike Bianchi, columnist at the Orlando Sentinel and host of AM 740 The Game’s “Open Mike,” while in the parking lot at Ker’s WingHouse. We capped the opening segment by also talking about a new football league forming in 2016 that’s looking to bring yet another minor league team to Orlando next spring.

Then on Friday, while on assignment to cover a prep soccer game at West Orange High School in Winter Garden, I was nearly attacked by an angry Warriors dad in the press box. We finished the show talking about that wild encounter while giving props to the local high school state tournament teams and touching on the disturbing hype that surrounds National Signing Day on a yearly basis.

Enjoy.

Carnahan Chronicles Radio: Bright House Sports Network’s Austin Lyon talks future of National Signing Day

On Saturday I was joined by Austin Lyon of Bright House Sports Network to talk about college football’s upcoming National Signing Day on Wednesday.

Lyon provided a preview of what to expect from BHSN’s coverage while also touching on what the future may hold for National Signing Day as more and more student-athletes opt to become early enrollees at their colleges of choice.

He broke down the schools being considered by offensive lineman Martez Ivey of Apopka High School, the top college football prospect in Central Florida, and what schools running back Dexter Williams and athlete Jalen Julius are each considering. Both Williams and Julius finished their prep careers at West Orange High School in Winter Garden.

Lyon wrapped up the segment by talking about the recruiting classes of college programs throughout the state of Florida and gave a short preview of BHSN’s upcoming coverage of the boys and girls basketball postseason.

Carnahan Coverage: Temple routs UCF in men’s basketball

ORLANDO, Fla. – Will Cummings has been hampered by a leg injury over the past few weeks, but in his return to the Sunshine State on Wednesday he helped Temple terrorize UCF to the tune of 86-62.

Family and friends made the trip from Jacksonville to see Cummings in action and he did not disappoint, finishing with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Read more about the game in a story I wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News.