Gallagher column: A surprise for Salisbury's Pinyan
By Ronnie Gallagher
Roaming the county getting ready for tonight ...
SALISBURY — On Tuesday, Joe Pinyan was summoned to the Salisbury High auditorium for what he thought was going to be an assembly for all students and faculty members to talk about testing.
Pinyan figured he could slip in and slip out but realized something else was happening.
"It's not about testing," principal Avis Williams told Pinyan. "It's about you."
Williams had set up the fake assembly so that Hornet Nation could laud Pinyan's 100th victory at Salisbury. That win won't soon be forgotten. A last-second 36-35 win over No. 1 seed High Point Andrews was not only No. 100 for the coach but it put his team into the West 2AA final for the third time in four years. Beat South Iredell tonight and the Hornets are playing in Raleigh next week for a chance at their second 2AA state title in three years.
"You've got to give Dr. Williams a lot of credit," Pinyan said. "She pulled off a big surprise in only a couple of days."
Pinyan sat on the first row during that assembly and caught a glimpse of some booster club members who have always been in his corner. He saw his wife and daughter, his mother, his brother and his sister. And then, straight from the mayor's office, a proclamation was read.
Nov. 20 was Joe Pinyan Day.•Pinyan knows why it was Joe Pinyan Day - because of some resilient players who came back from a 1-2 record after three games to win 10 straight, including one of the most ridiculous comebacks ever last Friday against Andrews. Trailing 35-14 in the fourth quarter, it was the Hornets who were mobbing each other afterward.
"It was pretty special watching the fans and players celebrate," Pinyan said. "You think about what just happened and how it transpired. I don't think I slept at all. You just keep reliving it."•Now, the Hornets have refocused to face talented South Iredell, which has quite a coach, too, in Scott Miller. Pinyan tells the story of how Miller approached Mooresville's Mike Carter years ago, asking to be a volunteer assistant. Carter put him with a defensive backs coach named Joe Pinyan.
Another tie came when Miller went to South Iredell as former Pinyan assistant J.K. Adkins took the job. Now, Miller is the head man and has turned the Vikings into a 2AA power.
"He is very, very intense and it carries over to his players," praised Pinyan. "He's a great football coach. You could tell the kids just responded to the person Scott is."•Speaking of responding, that's what Salisbury's sports program has done since Pinyan took over as athletics director almost a decade ago. Salisbury was floundering in the three major sports, coaches were bickering and the facilities were not the most attractive around. His first day as AD and head football coach, Pinyan and his assistants were removing lockers and taking them to the car wash. He knew from the outset he had to change the entire mindset and culture. He has certainly done that as AD. That's why booster club members were there Tuesday. They realize no one could have done a better job. Under his leadership, Salisbury began winning state titles in several sports and that hasn't stopped.
Asked what he thought about having a day named for him, Pinyan smiled.
"I'd not take a day named after me for a win (tonight)," he said.•On the air tonight ...
It's going to be a packed press box. Not only is the Post sending three reporters, there will be two Salisbury radio stations in the house.
• WSTP 1490 AM will broadcast with Hall of Famer Howard Platt and sidekick Wilson Cherry.
• WSAT 1280 AM, with Johnny, Mark, Glenn, Jeff and the boys will continue covering the Hornets. We think play-by-play man Mark Loman will have his voice back. He was doing a lot of screaming last week during the Hornets' unbeliveable rally. By the end, his voice was cracking as much as that Andrews defense.
Go to the game tonight, folks. And be nice.•Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or firstname.lastname@example.org.