Friday Night Hero: East Rowan's Donte Means
By Ronnie Gallagher
GRANITE QUARRY - East Rowan football coach Danny Misenheimer raved about Donte Means' touchdown Friday night against West Iredell. He raved about what it meant to the Mustangs' 30-7 victory that kept them tied for first place.
He just wishes he had seen it.
Means picked off a Preston Harrison pass early in the fourth quarter and ran it back 43 yards for a score that pretty much sealed the verdict. East was holding a precarious 16-7 lead at the time.
"Actually," Misenheimer admitted, "I was talking to the offensive line. The next thing I knew, I heard a bunch of screaming. I turned around and saw him running down the sidelines. I knew what it was all about then and I started jumping up and down and screaming as well."
There's a lot of jumping up and down these days at East Rowan. The Mustangs go into Friday night's home game against perennial power West Rowan sharing first in the North Piedmont Conference with Statesville. Misenheimer, in his first year as head man, shifted some players around and the moves are paying off.
Especially with Means.
The junior was a running back and backup quarterback last year on jayvee. One of Misenheimer's moves this season was to move all-county defensive back Madison Hedrick to the backfield.
"We knew (Means) wouldn't get much time running the ball," Misenheimer said, "so we put him at receiver. We knew he was an athletic kid."
But there was now a gaping hole at cornerback without Hedrick and Means had found a permanent position. He has suddenly become the one of the best defensive backs around. East has four interceptions on the year and he has all four, leading the county in that category.
On Friday, Means was anticipating Harrison's throw.
"I saw the quarterback rolling out," he said. "They had thrown it the play before so I expected it to come again."
He got an assist from Dock Corpening, who tipped the ball. Means then sailed in for the score.
"It came right to me," Means said. "I was really only worried about the quarterback. He was the guy who was the closest"
Misenheimer may have missed the play live, but he watched it on the WBTV highlights later that night.
So did Means.
"It's different," Means grinned. "It doesn't feel like that in a game."
The cornerback position is tough enough to play, but Misenheimer knew what kind of player he had in Means when he made the move.
"Once you get the fundamentals and technique down, everything else is being a player," Misenheimer said. "After the first couple of steps, they need to go out and make plays."
Give a lot of credit to position coach Brett Hatley. Means is coming up big when his team needs him the most.
Like last Friday.
"It was a very big point in the game," Misenheimer said. "It was a two-score game. He broke on that ball great. He made an athletic play and was off to the races. That kinda broke them."
Means said his position switch wasn't that hard to learn, adding he enjoys the tackling and picking off passes.
"Just do your job right and they'll come to you," he said. "We just want to win."
Now, he's up against his biggest test, West Rowan.
"Going to have a good week of practice, that's where it all starts," Means said Monday.
If West throws his way, Means will be ready.
And you can bet, his coach will be watching.