Friday Night Hero: North Rowan's Sakil Harrison
By David Shaw
SPENCER - It's not easy for a sophomore to get his coach's attention, but Sakil Harrison did so in a big way Friday night.
The North Rowan wide receiver was a mid-season exclamation point for the Cavs in a 45-13 YVC victory over East Montgomery. Harrison was a human tornado, leveling everything in his path - and Joe Nixon couldn't look away.
"He just had a great night," the first-year coach said after Harrison made five receptions for 140 yards and three touchdowns. "He kept making catches in traffic, then he'd get himself into the end zone. If he keeps working hard, this kid has a chance to be a special player."
That's high praise for a chisled, 6-foot-2, 175-pound varsity rookie who hadn't reached paydirt in any of North's first five games. Harrison isn't face-on-a-lunchbox famous, but he was hard to ignore as the Cavs (4-2, 2-0) maintained a share of the conference lead.
"I feel good about everything that went down," he said during a mid-week practice, a smile creased across his face. "But the truth is, without the offensive line doing what they did, it wouldn't have happened. Without them, there's no me."
So while practically everyone else in North's camp sang "The Ballad of Sakil Harrison," he credited Will Robertson, Josh Cozart, Devante Everhart and the Rabon twins for a game he'll always remember and a night he'll never forget. None of North's five receivers had reached the end zone this season before Harrison's breakout performance. "They were keying on our running backs so much," he explained. "They didn't know what our receivers could do. I guess they found out."
They found out less than a minute into the game. Harrison marked his territory and made his initial grab on North's third play from scrimmage, a 30-yard completion from quarterback Alexis Archie that gave the Cavs a first down on the East Montgomery 35-yard line.
"He's really made himself better," said Archie, who has passed for six touchdowns and rushed for three this year. "Now people are looking at film and wondering how they're going to stop him. I love his height, his size. You throw it anywhere close to him and he'll go get it."
That's precisely what happened on North's second possession. Following a short punt, Archie spiraled a 31-yard touchdown pass to Harrison, who found a seam and got open across the middle.
"At first it didn't feel real," he said. "Our coaches had been wanting us to score so bad, and I finally did it. I was just overly excited."
Harrison and Archie looked like the county's hottest couple later in the first half when they hooked up on a 46-yard TD play, padding North's lead to 32-0. "The safety left me open again," Harrison said wide-eyed. "Wide open. And Lexis led me so only I could get the ball."
By halftime, Harrison had caught four passes for 117 yards. He made only catch in the second half, resulting in a 23-yard touchdown late in the third quarter. With the pocket collapsing around him, Archie stood firm and delivered a perfect strike into a crowd."(Archie) was rolling out and I just waved my hands," Harrison recalled. "I didn't know if he saw me or was even looking for me. I just know that I was around it. Coach (Jeff) Chapman and Coach Nixon, they always say if the ball's in the air, it's our ball."Chapman, North's receivers coach, saw it all coming. "I told him the night he had on Friday was the night we all envisioned when we first saw him last spring," he said. "This is what we've been looking for."