Prep Football: A.L. Brown 49, Mount Pleasant 14
By Josh Hoke
KANNAPOLIS - The way this season is going, A.L. Brown coach Mike Newsome will have a medical degree by the time the Wonders start their 2012 playoff run.Already dealing with injuries to standout receiver Keeon Johnson and tailback Kalif Phillips, the Wonders were dealt perhaps an even more significant blow in Friday's 49-14 South Piedmont Conference win over Mount Pleasant. After a rather innocuous three-yard, second-quarter scramble, senior quarterback Keenan Medley limped to the sideline with a right ankle injury and did not return.
"I think I need somebody to start laying hands on these kids or something," Newsome said. "[We're] definitely finding that injury bug. Right now it's a tough time to be hit with it or bit with it. But our kids keep stepping up."
The Wonders, who built a four-touchdown lead in the first half, certainly didn't need Medley against the Tigers, but much stiffer challenges await, especially if they are going to advance deep into the playoffs as they did in Newsome's first campaign last season. Medley's progression as a passing quarterback was starting to mirror that of 2011 starter Brandon Eppinger, who struggled early but became a dynamic passer as the season aged.
Medley was beginning to show the same maturity. He threw for 70 yards before the injury Friday, including two perfectly flighted passes to receiver Robert Pinkston that led to long gains on the Wonders' first two scoring drives. Junior Andrew Ramirez, who has mostly appeared in mop-up duty the last two seasons, took over at quarterback after the injury, but the Wonders relied heavily on their running game, partially due to Ramirez's inexperience but also their big lead.
Medley sat dejectedly on the bench for the rest of the second quarter and was on crutches when he reemerged from the locker room midway through the third quarter.
"I just got my ankle rolled up on," Medley said. "It just happened so fast I couldn't even really explain it to the trainers. I just knew that my ankle was hurting really bad. I think I should be fine. The trainers will take care of it.
"There is a bad luck thing going around here. I don't know what it is. But we're going to find a way to win games like we did today."
Despite Medley's injury, the Wonders (7-1, 4-0 SPC) had little trouble with the Tigers (3-5, 0-4 SPC) and extended their SPC winning streak to 18 games. After punting on their first drive - two penalties derailed that drive, a problem that's becoming more frequent for Brown - the Wonders did pretty much whatever they wanted on offense for the rest of the first half. The outgained the Tigers 136-14 in the first quarter and 222-80 in the first half.
Brown led 28-0 at the half on the strength of rushing touchdowns from Ricky Sherrill (two), Pinkston and J.P. Lott, a two-way dynamo whose role in the offense figures to expand even more if Medley's injury is significant.
"Defensively we were on the field the entire first half, and they started wearing us down a little bit," Mount Pleasant coach Michael Johns said. "… We fought in the second half, but we had a couple of bad plays."
The Tigers were much improved in the second half, showing an ability to move the ball through the air and on the ground. Quarterback Michael Bingham's second passing touchdown cut Brown's lead to 35-14 late in the third quarter, and Mount Pleasant had a chance to pull closer after blocking a fourth quarter punt. However, the Tigers fumbled on their next play, and Brown polished off the win with two late touchdowns.
Depending on Medley's status, the Wonder could be getting healthy for the stretch run. Phillips dressed on Friday but did not play. Johnson did not dress and continues to wear a protective boot on his injury left foot.
"I feel really good about No. 17 being back next week," Newsome said of Phillips. "That'll make a big difference. … Keeon is probably still out another week or two. His doctor's appointment this week didn't go as well as we had hoped."