Prep Football Notebook: Week 8
Film session went much more smoothly for Carson and coach Mark Woody after snapping a five-game losing streak.
"It's a lot easier to watch," Woody said. "We executed some things that we practice and that does your heart good."
Carson topped South for the third straight year.•OFFENSIVE LINE: Woody commended the play of offensive linemen Devon Peacock, Trei Cunningham and Cody Rodriguez. The Carson OL helped Brandon Sloop amass a career-high 245 yards on 37 carries.
"After a disappointing game against Statesville, they came out and played very well Friday night," Woody said.•DEFENSIVE HIGHLIGHTS: Tre Williams and Anthony McCurry had sacks. Max Lear blocked an extra point.
"We played pretty good defensively," Woody said. "Aside from a few pass interference calls, we played pretty well."•WHAT A PLAY! Quarterback Austin McNeill found K.J. Pressley in single coverage and hit him in stride for a 32-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-21 early in the second quarter. The score made it 14-6 Carson. McNeill leads the country with 1,312 yards passing after a 99-yard night.•GO-TO GREG: Senior tight end Greg Tonnesen filled in for wide receiver Ben Gragg, who was injured in the Statesville game.•TURNOVER BATTLE: During its five-game skid, the Cougars lost the turnover battle 20-3. Carson had just one turnover against South on a lost fumble with under a minute to play.
Salisbury scored at will in a 45-35 win over Central Davidson on Friday night but it was a defensive play by Keion Adams that everyone was talking about afterward.
Salisbury had just taken control of the game when Adams stole the ball out of a receiver's hands and rambled 25 yards for a score. That made it 45-27, effectively ending all hope for the Spartans.
"It was a well-designed play and Keion just came out of nowhere," Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan said. "It made them have to pass."•THE BLOB: Central doesn't like to pass but it does run an unusual offense. Everyone bunches up together in the backfield.
"We call it 'The Blob,' " Pinyan said. "Everybody is shoe to shoe and in there real tight. You count on them getting 3, 4 yards a carry and we just couldn't get them stopped. When we finally got them stopped, they couldn't stop us."
For the record, the wishbone outrushed The Blob 291-222.•MR. TOUCHDOWN: Justin Ruffin made the most of his carries. He scored four times in a game for the second time in his career and finished with 159 yards.
"You can't overlook a kid who does that, but it doesn't measure up to how he was blocking," Pinyan said.
Pinyan had high praise for offensive linemen Parker McKeithan, Tim Rhodes, Mike Dyson and Malik Wilson.
"They're taking a little more pride," he said.•WHERE'S YOW? Assistant coach David Johnson switched from defense to offense this year when Daniel Yow suddenly left to take a job at Hickory Ridge.
"Professionally, it was a positive move for him because he's a full-time teacher as opposed to being a teacher's assistant here," Pinyan said. "It was one of those things where he didn't want to leave but he had to."
West made important decisions prior to Friday's impressive 35-6 win against Reidsville.
There's been no change in philosophy. It's more of a return to an old philosophy.
Look for the Falcons (6-2) to be more conservative the rest of the way. If it's third-and-7, they're likely to run the ball for 4 yards and then ask Harrison Baucom to punt the ball 40, rather than risk a turnover.
Coach Scott Young is stressing that every possession going forward must end with a kick - be it a PAT, a field-goal attempt or a punt.
Entering the Reidsville game, West had turned the ball over 20 times and the Falcons had uncharacteristically lost the turnover battle for the season 20-11.
Tellingly, in the two NPC games West lost, it was beaten badly in takeaways by Statesville (5-0) and East Rowan (3-0).
"We've got to stop having our offense hurt our defense," Young said. "Our defense has played well, even better than the numbers. Statesville returned two fumbles for touchdowns. East Rowan scored on a pick-six and beat us 13-7. We blocked East's first PAT, so we can win that game 7-6 if we don't have the pick-six."•PASSING: West threw only six times against Reidsville, but the Falcons probably played their best game of the season. They turned it over only once (on a fumble) and won the turnover chart 3-1.
"We've had to look at some things," Young said. "Our offensive numbers aren't what they have been because we haven't had that second dimension of the pass. If you've got a great tailback, it really doesn't matter if you can throw the ball or not. But if you've got good tailbacks, you really need that second dimension."•RUNNING: West rushed for 273 yards against Reidsville, even when the Rams knew what was coming. Tailback Daisean Reddick had a season-high 138 yards and posted his third straight 100-yard game.
Desmond Jackson, who splits tailback duties with Reddick, leads the team with 748 rushing yards. QB Tyler Stamp has run for 251 yards, and fullback Cody Eggers has 100.
Run the ball effectively and stop the run, and you'll win a lot. West has rushed for 1,642 yards, while allowing just 446 yards on the ground.
West leads the county in rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense.
"We played very well against Reidsville, and there's no reason why we can't continue that the rest of the season," Young said.•GOOD EGG: Playing fullback for West can be a thankless task. It basically means blocking a linebacker or lineman on 95 percent of the snaps.
Eggers got five carries against Reidsville to boost his total for the season to 26. He also scored his first TD on a 5-yard run in the third quarter.
"The last two weeks have been Cody's best two games," Young said.•NICK AT NIGHT: Linebacker Nick Collins was praised by the coaching staff for a solid game against Reidsville. He broke up a pass and recovered a fumble.•HEY, IT'S COLD: The arrival of the first cold weather had Young in a cheerful mood. "Everything is good except that all our extra money is going to buy new gloves for the staff just so we can make it through a practice," Young joked.
When the Mustangs crushed North Iredell 49-0 on Friday, it marked the first the Mustangs had topped 40 points since a 43-29 win against South Rowan in 2007.
East had not scored as many as 49 in a game since a 49-0 romp against Piedmont in 1999.•HIGH FIVE: The victory was the fifth for first-year East head coach Danny Misenheimer. Misenheimer is the 19th coach in East history, and he already owns more career wins than six of his predecessors. He's tied with two more East coaches, Sonny Eller, who went 5-5, and Will Orbin, who was 5-7.•TITLE SHOT: It remains to be seen if East can deal with fourth-ranked Statesville's speed, but if the Mustangs take care of South Rowan on Friday, they will enter the Statesville game with a shot at winning their first conference championship since they shared the SPC title with Concord and A.L. Brown in 1997.
After the win against Carson on Sept. 14, Misenheimer said the Mustangs had a chance to roll into Statesville with an undefeated NPC record.
Some people giggled at that statement, but no one is laughing now.•ON TOP: East's Calvin Edwards is averaging over 106 yards per game and holds a narrow lead over Salisbury's Justin Ruffin and Carson's Brandon Sloop in the county rushing race.
East's Madison Hedrick is sixth in the county in rushing.
It's been a long time since a Mustang led the county.
Thomas Lowe's great 2007 season was overshadowed by West's K.P. Parks, and Cal Hayes Jr.'s big 2001 season occurred in a year in which Ben Hampton was running wild for the Falcons.
Quarterback Aaron Kennerly resumed his progression by throwing for 182 yards and two touchdowns against Carson, while running for one TD. Kennerly will fill in for Nathan Lambert for the rest of the season after Lambert broke his ankle against North Iredell. Kennerly has 449 yards passing while appearing in four games.
"A-Rod's been through enough pressure and he's very confident," South coach Jason Rollins said. "He made some great throws that kept us in reach. He and Nathan work together all the time."•RECOVERY: Lucas Kincaid's fumble recovery gave South a chance with under a minute to play. Bryson Deaton collected an interception in the end zone.•LOOKING AHEAD: South, now 2-6, has games coming up at East Rowan and at home against Statesville. Sandwiched between those games is an open date.
"Each week we get better," Rollins said. "And I thought we did tonight. We didn't give up."•MEDLIN'S THE MAN; Tight end Josh Medlin is the Raiders' leading receiver with 604 yards receiving on 34 catches. Medlin has scored at least one touchdown in six straight six games and has seven for the season.
While North stood toe-to-toe with Albemarle in Friday's 29-22 loss to Albemarle that is almost certain to make the Bulldogs the league champ, Albemarle appeared to be the better team.
The experienced, Bulldogs (7-1) had fewer turnovers, fewer penalties and made fewer mistakes than the talented young Cavaliers (5-3).
Albemarle is tied for sixth in the AP media poll and is probably underrated,
"They're a state-championship-caliber team," North coach Joe Nixon said. "We had three turnovers and they didn't have any, and that made it tough."•STOPPED: North couldn't run the ball consistently against the Bulldogs, especially in the second half when the Cavaliers managed just 19 yards on nine attempts.
That put the offense on the shoulders of sophomore Alexis Archie. He threw 30 times, his second-highest total of the season. He threw 32 times in the loss to West Rowan.
Archie had success in the first half (9-for-13 for 113 yards), but it was hard for anyone to get open downfield in the second half against the Bulldogs' talented secondary. Archie was 7-for-17 for 47 yards in the second half and was picked off three times, all in Albemarle territory. Six of his seven completions in the second half went to his backs.•BIG PLAY: North's biggest play was a blocked punt by Mike Robinson. Robinson smothered the ball and made the recovery. That special-teams play set up North's only TD of the second half on a pass from Archie to Jareke Chambers.•DILEMMA: With Albemarle clinging to a 23-22 lead in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs were driving, but it was actually in their best interest not to score, or at least not to score without exhausting the clock.
Doing the math, if Albemarle scored a TD and kicked the PAT it would be 30-22, and North would then get the ball with a chance to force overtime with a TD and a two-point conversion.
With Albemarle positioned at the North 9 with a minute left, the Bulldogs talked it over, and Deon Christian threw a TD pass with 55 seconds left. When Albemarle missed the PAT kick, it was 29-22, and that meant North could tie with seven or win with eight.
Then Xavier Robinson, who played a whale of a game on defense, nearly took a squibbed kickoff to the house. He was brought down just past midfield, and when Albemarle was assessed a 15-yard penalty, North suddenly had the ball at the Albemarle 34 with the crowd roaring.
"We'll always take a score," Albemarle coach Danny Akins explained. "The part we didn't plan on was their kickoff return."
On first down, Jareke Chambers slipped out of the backfield and was wide open down the North sideline. Archie delivered the ball, but Chambers couldn't hang on to it. Had he made that catch, North would've been inside the Albemarle 20.
On the next snap, Archie was picked off for the second time by Martinus Crump. One kneeldown later, and the Bulldogs were winners.
"Xavier made a great play on that kickoff," Nixon said. "He gave us a chance."•PRINCE A KING: North fans weren't surprised that Albemarle lineman R.J. Prince was named to the Shrine Bowl squad. Prince is the size of a small condominium, and the Bulldogs ran behind him often.
Davie's defense continued to play well in a 13-10 CPC loss to West Forsyth that snapped a five-game winning streak.
Linebacker Alex Gobble made 15 stops, while defensive end Jamal Lackey had 10 tackles, even though the Titans game-planned to run away from him.•CARNEY UPDATE: Freshman Cade Carney accounted for 134 of Davie's 163 rushing yards. West Forsyth coach Adrian Snow offered high praise, comparing Carney to Wofford star Eric Breitenstein, who played high school ball for Snow when he was coaching Watauga.
"I mean, he plays his butt off," Snow said.
Carney has rushed for 1,283 yards on 180 carries and has scored 10 TDs.•SHRINE BOWL: While he's missed a lot of time this season with injury, offensive lineman Cole Blankenship, an N.C. State commitment, was named to the Shrine Bowl roster.
Wednesday's Shrine Bowl roster announcement should have brought joy to the Wonders, but the naming of running back Kalif Phillips and wideout Keeon Johnson mostly served as a reminder that the team has been soldiering on for weeks without two of the state's elite players.
When Phillips went down in Week 6, he had 75 carries for 773 yards and 10 TDs, six receptions for 194 yards and three TDs, and another TD on a 96-yard kickoff return.
Johnson has been sidelined even longer. The Virginia commitment hasn't been on the field since Week 4. He had 14 catches for 138 yards and three TDs at that point.
It's the third time Brown has had multiple Shrine Bowlers since 2000.•QB OUT: If healthy, the Wonders, who are tied for seventh in the AP 3A poll, have state-championship caliber talent, but they now have even more serious concerns than the status of Phillips and Johnson.
Keenan Medley, a great athlete who was making strides as a quarterback, isn't expected back this season after being injured in Friday's 49-14 win against Mount Pleasant.
Medley will be remembered for a game-winning run against Cox Mill. He had rushed for 212 yards and five TDs and he had thrown for 702 yards and 10 scores.
Medley's replacement is Andrew Ramirez.•NEXT: The Wonders are at Hickory Ridge Friday, and given the injury report they may be underdogs on the road against a 7-1 team that is 4-0 in the South Piedmont and on the verge of a state ranking.
Hickory Ridge has beaten, among others, East Rowan and Cox Mill. Cox Mill beat Concord last week. East Rowan beat West Rowan.
What are the Wonders going to do offensively? They'll probably give the ball to bullish Ricky Sherrill 40 times and hope J.P. Lott can be a hero both ways.
Contributing to the notebook were Ronnie Gallagher, Mike London, Ryan Bisesi and Brian Pitts.