11-and-Go: Cavaliers rout Salisbury
SPENCER — Some believed Salisbury had a shot against North Rowan in Friday’s CCC football game.
Probably the same folks who believe pigs can fly, that the Easter Bunny delivers chocolate eggs, and that their check is the mail.
Salisbury (2-9, 2-3) fought, but the Hornets were brushed aside 41-0 by a green freight train determined to make a serious run at a 2A state title.
Jareke Chambers led the Big Green Nation rampage with three TD runs and 256 yards on 15 carries.
“The team played a great game,” Chambers said. “North hadn’t beaten Salisbury in a long time, so that’s all that we wanted to do.”
Chambers also did some stuff individually, as the Cavaliers (11-0, 5-0) won the CCC title and beat SHS on the field for the first time since 2003. Despite making his final carry with 4:45 left in the third quarter, Chambers enjoyed the second-biggest rushing night in school history.
His four second-half touches included TD romps of 81 and 52 yards.
“Just a special kid,” North coach Joe Nixon. “Just very special.”
Chambers lifted his season total to 1,700 rushing yards on the nose and broke North’s record for a regular season that had stood since Mark Sturgis raced for 1,613 yards in a 10-game season in 1975.
Chambers should surpass North’s school rushing record for a season, counting playoff games, with no worries. The late Nathanial Hyde crunched opponents for 1,768 yards to set that mark in 1992.
Alexis Archie wasn’t 100 percent, so Chambers started the game at quarterback. But Archie still threw for 166 yards and three TDs, with two going to Darrell Taylor and one to Sakil Harrison. North only threw twice in the second half.
“We saw on film that I had a chance to make some plays on run-pass options,” Archie said. “It was just a very good game for us. Our defense was stout again. Our special teams made it a lot easier for the offense by giving us field position.”
That’s the thing about North, which completed the third perfect regular season in school history and its first in the 11-game era. It’s not just Chambers. It’s not just Archie. It’s not just the defense, which threw its second straight shutout. And it’s not just coach Josh Sophia’s special teams, which got another blocked punt by Mike Robinson and another dynamic punt return from Kasaun Coney.
It’s all those things together coming at you relentlessly from the opening kickoff until it’s settled.
“It’s really hard to slow them down,” Salisbury coach Ryan Crowder said. “We tried to mix our coverages, tried to put linebackers in places where they wouldn’t expect them, but they’re just so multi-dimensional. We’ve been up against great West Rowan and Thomasville teams in the past, but this is one of the most complete teams we’ve faced.”
When Archie hit Taylor down the seam for a 56-yard TD, North led 21-0 at halftime. Salisbury did not make a first down before halftime and had minus yardage.
“Salisbury fought hard, but we wanted this to be a statement game before the playoffs,” defensive tackle Wesley Jefferies said.
Chambers turned the third quarter into his personal track meet, and once he zoomed into the secondary, SHS had no hope.
“The long touchdown I got on a sweep play, that was because of a great block by Raekwon Wynruit,” Chambers said. “Then I just made a cutback and took off.”
Salisbury moved the ball some after halftime, with Tim Rhodes picking up 60 of his 64 yards, but the Cavaliers stood firm every time Salisbury threatened.
“Just real pleased with our effort,” Nixon said. “Salisbury game-planned to take away the run, but we made plays in the passing game. When they adjusted to the pass, Jareke broke some big runs. That kind of balance is going to be important for us in the playoffs.”