Prep Football: North faces tough nonconference schedule

JON C. LAKEY / SALISBURY POST The North Rowan Cavaliers gather around head coach Joe Nixon.
JON C. LAKEY / SALISBURY POST The North Rowan Cavaliers gather around head coach Joe Nixon.

This is the fourth in a series on football practices at

area high schools.

Today: North Rowan


Sunday: East Rowan

Football edition: Aug. 21

SPENCER — And the winner for toughest nonconference schedule in 2013 is (drumroll, please) North Rowan.

One year after winning eight games in a 1A league, Joe Nixon’s talented Cavaliers have a daunting task ahead before it even reaches Central Carolina 2A play. They meet:

• 3A East Rowan and Carson.

• 3A Statesville, a defending conference champ, which is supposed to be even more talented than last year.

• 4A Davie County

• Long-time power Forest Hills on the road and a long road trip to Providence Grove.

“They’re marquee programs in North Carolina,” Nixon pointed out. “If you can be competitive against a tough nonconference schedule, it sets you up for a competitive conference and playoff run.”

Nixon had to scramble a bit because of four county teams being in a 9-team league.

“It’s hard to fit the schedule,” Nixon said. “You don’t want to travel but at the same time, you want a great experience and great competition for our guys. Playing a big-time game sets you up for a good week of practice, a good crowd and a good atmosphere.”



WHERE’S WEST? The only disappointment for area fans is that North didn’t resume its rivalry with West Rowan, where Nixon was a long-time assistant. The Cavs put a scare into the Falcons last season before falling 29-21.



RANKED: North does have something in common with West this year. They’re the county teams ranked in state polls.

For North to be ranked eighth before it plays a game in 2A is quite a compliment.

“It says how hard our kids have worked,” Nixon said. “They’re getting a little recognition but you don’t want to get too caught up in it.”



STEPPING UP: There are too many veteran leaders to let that happen.

Xavier Robinson, Mike Robinson and Cecil McCauley anchor a stout defense. Junior Alexis Archie returns as arguably the county’s best quarterback going into Week 1. The lefty slung it for 1,238 yards and 13 touchdowns.

“Archie has done a good job,” Nixon said. “He’s changed his body around a little bit, he knows the offense and we expect him to have a big year.”

And don’t forget Jereke Chambers, a 1,000-yard rusher, who ran for 272 yards in the team’s last game.



TURN THE PAGE: That last game didn’t quite end like Nixon wanted. The Cavs were ahead 14-0 over West Montgomery in the first round of the 1A playoffs and were driving for another touchdown when a fumble turned into a Warrior TD return. Other mistakes led to a 34-28 loss, an exit no one predicted.

North finished 8-4.

Time heals all wounds, however.

“We’ve used it a lot for motivation,” Nixon said. “You’ve got to finish games. But it’s time to put it behind us.”

Nixon is satisfied where the program is headed.

“8-4 is a very good football season,” Nixon said. “But you always want to get to double-figure wins so we’re not where we want to be.”



STAFF STABILITY: The assistants have a strong Catawba flavor and why not? Nixon always won there as a player.

Stevie Williams, Marqes Davis, Nick Means and Rodney Goodine are all former Indians.

They join Ben Hampton, Josh Sophia, Aaron Rimer and Jeff Chapman.

“It helps,” Nixon said of keeping everyone together. “We’re in Year 2. The kids know the system. It’s been a good offseason for us.”



NEW NAMES: Nixon was asked if there were any pleasant surprises.

He mentioned Xavier Partee, Wesely Jefferies and Shane Parker. The Rabon brothers. Cam Sifford and Darrell Taylor. All could have breakout seasons. Even his kickers, Trae Clark and punter Dylan Auten, went to camps.



BYE, YVC: Perhaps the best thing that happened to North this season was realignment. No more long drives in the 1A Yadkin Valley Conference.

While at West, Nixon was used to big crowds. In the YVC, even the major showdowns might have brought 30 opposing fans to Spencer.

“This will be better,” Nixon said. “Our kids deserve to play in front of packed houses.”



NEW LEAGUE: Nixon likes the CCC, stating Thomasville and Salisbury make his schedule even tougher.

The Salisbury game will be on the final regular-season Friday, which will be North’s Senior Night.

“I do like playing the rivalry game at the end,” Nixon said. “It will be something special for the kids.”

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