Common Sense Picks
There is a new undisputed king of football in Rowan County.
West Rowan held the mantle starting in the early 2000s. Salisbury got up there in the latter part of the decade. West Rowan won back-to-back-to-back state titles starting in 2008, and both schools brought home the crown in 2010. The Falcons made it to the state championship game again in 2011, and Salisbury was a 2AA West region finalist in 2012.
Now it appears to be North Rowan’s turn.
Last season, the Cavaliers went 13-1. That includes a 3-0 record against East Rowan, Carson and Salisbury. The Cavaliers outscored those three opponents 108-31.
They also rolled through the Central Carolina Conference on their way to a conference crown. In five league games, the Cavaliers put a whopping 217 points on the board while allowing only 32. Their final two games of the regular season against Thomasville and Salisbury were both shutouts.
The Cavaliers’ run was halted in the playoffs with a 24-point loss to Shelby in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A playoffs. Since that night in November 2013, North Rowan’s goal has been to get better.
Even though head Joe Nixon won’t say the Cavaliers could win a state title, the team’s eyes are on the big prize.
Returning from last year’s offense are running back Jareke Chambers, quarterback Alexis Archie and wide receiver Sakil Harrison. It’s a three-headed monster that is hard to stop even when teams know where the ball is going.
The defense isn’t so bad either.
Defensive linemen Wesley Jeffries and Shane Parker can wreak havoc on opposing offensive linemen. There’s also the secondary that returns Kenyaun Coney, Trae Clark, Jaleel Hitchens and Xavier Partee.
Opposing teams passed for only 1,091 yards in 14 games. The Cavaliers allowed a stingy 201.9 yards per game last season.
The Cavaliers open the season at home against East Rowan on Friday. It’ll be the first test of what could be a big season.
East Rowan at North Rowan
The first part of this was dedicated to how good North Rowan can be. So, let’s talk about East Rowan. The Mustangs went 4-8 a year ago. Now, they look to improve under new coach Kenneth McClamrock. Twin brothers Seth and Sam Wyrick will be the force behind the offense. Sam Wyrick passed for 1,846 yards and 22 touchdowns. Seth Wyrick’s 66 catches last season were a school record. He also hauled in 12 touchdowns. The Mustangs have a chance to be good this year. It’s too bad they’re opening the season with the best team in Rowan County. Common Sense pick: North Rowan 42, East Rowan 10
Salisbury at Carson
The Cougars begin their second year under head coach Joe Pinyan against Salisbury. The Cougars won last year’s meeting 14-9. The Hornets won only twice last year. They return a few starters on offense. One of those is quarterback Riley Myers. Carson, however, has Brandon Sloop in the backfield for the fourth year. Sloop is seventh on the all-time list for rushing yards in Rowan County history. Common Sense pick: Carson 27, Salisbury 6
Mooresville at West Rowan
It’s generally a good game when these two teams get together. The teams have traded wins the last three years, with Mooresville getting victories in two of those contests. Mooresville’s offense is powered by running back Akease Rankin, who rushed for more than 2,100 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2013. West Rowan is coming off a 6-6 season. The big thing for the Falcons is protecting the lead in the fourth quarter, a problem they had last year. West Rowan breaking in new quarterback Kacey Otto, and Harrison Baucom, last year’s signal caller, moved to running back. Common Sense pick: Mooresville 28, West Rowan 21.
South Iredell at South Rowan
The teams met last year in the season opener. The Raiders lost that game 44-9. That was the start of the first winless season in school history. South Iredell is young, but it has a lot of experience returning on defense. Bottom line, it doesn’t look good for the Raiders. Common Sense pick: South Iredell 45, South Rowan 6.
A.L. Brown at Concord
Traditionally a season finale, the Battle for the Bell is the season opener for these two historic programs. Last year was the first time the Spiders and Wonders met in a season opener since 1931. The Spiders have Rocky Reid in their backfield. Reid ran for more than 3,300 yards last year and scored 39 touchdowns. Stopping him will be the key to the Wonders’ success. Common Sense pick: Concord 21, Brown 14
Davie at Greensboro Page
Page’s strength on offense is an experienced offensive line, which boasts four returning starters. Jacori Johnson and Keith Murphy are expected to be reliable receivers. The Pirates also added new talent to that position group. Page won last year’s meeting by 10 points. The War Eagles are coming off just the second losing season in the last 18 years. Christian Launius, Davie County’s leading tackler from 2013, is back to lead the War Eagles’ 3-4 scheme. Common Sense pick: Page 31, Davie 27.