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Deep Run’s Wharton named state soccer player of the year

Being named Gatorade Virginia Boys Soccer Player of the Year, maintaining a 4.79 weighted GPA and signing a National Letter of Intent to play soccer on an athletic scholarship at University of Virginia probably gives a high school student fair reason not to be humble, right? Wrong – at least for Todd Wharton, 18, of Deep Run High School.

“It meant a lot [to win the Gatorade award] because I know there’s a lot of good players in the state of Virginia,” Wharton said, “but I’m not interested in individual awards this year. It’s all about the team for me. I know it sounds cliche, but it is.”

Frank Ford, who serves as Wharton’s head coach at Deep Run HS, said his star player had worked hard his whole life and was incredibly humble.

“He’s been a coach’s dream as far as what you ask for,” Ford said.

With his high school team sitting at 14-1-1 and playoff games still remaining in his senior campaign, Wharton has already left his mark on the Deep Run record books.

Playing from his midfielder position, he has 34 goals and and 23 assists this season, while piling up 71 goals and 52 assists in his four-year career, making him Deep Run’s career leader in both categories.

“The guy is a playmaker, and he can score,” Ford said. “Just his vision and how he sees things, you can equate him to a chess player.

“A good chess player sees several moves in advance, while the world-class players can see like 19 steps ahead. He’s like the 19-steps-ahead kind of kid.”

Ford said Wharton also owned Deep Run’s single-season scoring and assists record, previously held by Brian Ownby, who currently plays for the Houston Dynamo in Major League Soccer (MLS). Ownby also played soccer at UVA, which is where Wharton will be headed this fall..

Wharton committed to the Cavaliers the August before his junior year, he said.

“UVA was always my first choice,” he said. “I didn’t really want to go that far away from home, and I know they have a great academic program there too, so it was really just an easy decision for me.”

Wharton’s had the “hype” since the start of his high school career, he said.

“I went to a few national camps at the end of eighth grade, but it’s definitely been a lot more the last two years,” he said. “It’s fun because a lot of people come up to me a congratulate me for things. A lot of people are happy for me; it makes my parents proud.”

For Ford, who’s been coaching Wharton for three years at Deep Run and in middle school before that, the most important factor in coaching a player of Wharton’s caliber is figuring out how to best use him, he said.

“You want to to get as much out of him as possible, and he’s the perfect player for that because of the way he plays,” Ford said. “He makes people better; he doesn’t just do everything himself. He’s made good players really good and made really good players great.”

Despite the team only suffering one loss (to Godwin HS in extra time) during the regular season, Deep Run is flying under the radar heading into the playoffs, Ford said.

“Everyone talks about Godwin and Cosby [high schools],” he said. “We’re kind of an afterthought for some reason. There comes a certain point in the season when you want your acknowledgement, so hopefully that time is coming for us.”

“We lost nine starters last year, so I feel like we’re doing well for having lost so many starters,” Wharton said. “I think we can make a good run in the playoffs.”

Wharton also plays for the Richmond Strikers and was named a 2011 Youth All-American selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

Playing for the Strikers was a lot different from high school, Wharton said, but he enjoyed it because his team played others from along the East Coast.

When he’s not playing competitively, Wharton works at his father’s soccer training facility, helping teach younger players.


Community

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

Highland Springs field to be dedicated in honor of longtime coach Spears

The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.

Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.

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Entertainment

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


There’s no excuse for kids and families to not get out of the house this weekend! The Armour House and Gardens has an “Egg-celent Egg-venture” planned and Reynolds Community College will host the Reynolds Family Palooza. If you’re looking to give back to your community, Dorey Park will host Walk Like MADD and coordinators2inc will present the annual Kids Walk for Kids. And a special event for children with special needs will be on Sunday – the Caring Bunny will be at Virginia Center Commons. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

A new meaning for fried chicken

Is it heresy to say – in this bastion-of-tradition capital of the Old South – that it's time for Southern fried chicken to take a step back and make way for a new fried chicken king?

Count me among the new believers bowing to Bonchon Chicken's delectable double-fried bliss. Hand-brushed with signature garlic soy or hot sauce, flash-fried once and then again, the decadent drums and wings take "crisp" to a new level. If you're eating with a crowd and everyone bites in at once, be warned: you might need ear plugs to handle the din. > Read more.

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