Prep Football: A.L. Brown hero Ricky Sherrill
By Mike London
KANNAPOLIS - A.L. Brown running backs coach Scott Jordan figures Ricky Sherrill rushed for 100 yards on Friday - after contact. Officially, Sherrill amassed 225 yards on 25 attempts, which computes to 9 punishing yards per carry, all between the tackles, "He had only one negative play all night, and that was because we gave it to him again right after a 65-yard run," Jordan said. "He's a workhorse, but he was tired." Missing all-world running back Kalif Phillips and top receiver Keeon Johnson, A.L. Brown (6-1, 3-0 SPC) needed everything Sherrill had to give on Friday in a 38-34 win at Cox Mill, a good team determined to beat the Wonders for the first time. Cox Mill threw for 300-plus yards, ran for 200-plus yards and didn't turn it over. "Cox Mill was about one holding penalty away from playing a perfect game on offense," Jordan said. "Played as good as you can play." Still, Brown was able to recover from a 21-7 deficit. It took an amazing fourth-quarter dash by QB Keenan Medley and 121 rushing yards by DB J.P. Lott. And it took Sherrill, who pounded away at the Chargers on his way to a career night and half of Brown's season-high 451 rushing yards. "Kalif was hurt, so the team put the ball in my hands a lot more," Sherrill said. "I had a lot of good runs because our offensive line was having an excellent night." Sherrill will be as happy as anyone when Phillips, who has rushed for 773 yards, returns from the toe injury he suffered against Central Cabarrus, but he's enjoyed his beefed-up workload the past two weeks. He got 21 carries against Central. "I like carrying the ball a lot and I feel strong," Sherrill said. "It's great that the coaches feel like I'm good enough to step in to Kalif's spot. When I first came here, I thought I might be a linebacker, but they like the way I run the ball." While the 215-pound Sherrill had never carried 25 times for the Wonders before Friday, he'd done it three times previously in varsity competition. As a sophomore at South Rowan in 2010, he had 27 attempts for 127 yards against West Iredell. As a junior at South, he carried 29 times for 141 yards on opening night against Central Cabarrus. The third game of the 2011 season, he rushed 25 times for 120 yards against Northwest Cabarrus, but a temporary loss of composure in that frustrating loss led to Sherrill facing team disciplinary action. Not long after that, Sherrill transferred to A.L. Brown. He didn't play at all for the Wonders. "He came into a situation and he sat out and he trusted me and our coaching staff that we would find a way to get him back on the field as a senior," A.L. Brown head coach Mike Newsome said. "He believed in us, and it's working out well for him. He's doing a tremendous job." Sherrill has grown up a lot in the past year, and he's enthusiastically embraced a supporting role in Brown's powerful offense. He averaged 10 carries per game in his first four outings as an inside changeup to Phillips' dazzling work outside. "Ricky's not a selfish guy at all," Jordan said. "He understands that a lot of the time his job is going to be blocking for Kalif, and he's a very good blocker. He's a prototypical fullback. He's been a blessing for this team." Sherrill rushed for 968 yards in 15 varsity games at South. In 88 carries this season, he's rushed for 661 yards, and he found the end zone for the sixth time on Friday. It's possible Phillips will play Friday against Mount Pleasant. Sherrill will be productive for 10 or 12 carries if Phillips is ready - or 20-plus carries if he's not. "I like Ricky's body language," Jordan said. "He's not as fast as (UNC's) Travis Riley was, but he's a lot like Travis. He's always going to fall forward."