Ronnie Gallagher column: Awards the banquets forgot

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 23, 2006

One thing we know about West Rowan football. You might break a record, but you don’t keep it very long.

First, there was Ben Hampton. He broke about all of the career and season rushing marks.

Didn’t last long. Joe Jackson made sure of that, breaking Big Ben’s records.

Didn’t last long. Wade Moore made sure of that, breaking Joltin’ Joe’s records.

And Moore’s records?

Won’t last long.

I saw Moore and his family at a restaurant recently, and the current N.C. State baseball player was already conceding his records.

To K.P. Parks.

Only a freshman, Parks ran for more than 1,700 yards this season. If he stays healthy, there’s no telling how many yards he’ll pick up.

The most amazing thing about Parks bursting onto the scene was that he shared the backfield with another 1,000-yard rusher in Mike McGorda.

Parks was just one of the stars winning awards this year. But it’s now time for some other awards the athletic banquets might have forgotten:

Mr. Clutch Award: With six seconds left against East Davidson, Salisbury kicker Zach Collins kicked a 26-yard field goal for a 42-39 win. With two seconds left against Ledford, he kicked a

36-yard field goal for a 24-21 win. Against North, he kicked a field goal that proved to be the winning points in a 16-13 win.

Best names: For Halloween, we have Salisbury’s Boo Blakeney. For Thanksgiving, we have North’s Jacob Gobble.

Favorite Nickname: East’s Alan “Stovepipe” Stover.

Best Offensive Performance: Salisbury’s Dario Hamilton ran for 250 yards, including scoring runs of 77, 66 and 21 yards, in an 18-10 win over Central Davidson.

Best Defensive Performance: To North Rowan’s Steven Hunter and the Cavs against East Davidson. East’s Bradley Mullins came in having rushed for over 500 yards in his previous two games. North limited him to 58.

Best Defensive Play: With 40 seconds left, Blakeney stopped Lexington’s Josh Leak about 3 inches short of the goal line on a conversion run, preserving Salisbury’s 34-33 win.

Most Impressive Win: South Rowan’s first of the season, a 29-14 decision against Reynolds. Just when everyone was thinking 0-11, Jason Rollins’ club made people believe in the Raiders.

Which brings us to …

Team of the Year: South Rowan. West coach Scott Young even said Rollins deserved consideration for coach of the year after the Raiders went 3-8.

Most Disappointing Loss: North was supposed to play much better in a 30-6 defeat to West Rowan.

Most Underrated Player: West’s Willie Sherrill switched positions and flourished at linebacker, running in interceptions against Carson and Northwest Cabarrus.

History-maker: Monta Achi scored Carson’s first-ever touchdown.

He … could … go … all … the … way: The longest touchdown was recorded by Malcolm McMillon, who caught a 99-yard touchdown pass from Cameron Woods against South.

“It was actually 991/2 yards,” corrected North coach Avery Cutshaw.

Ready for break-out seasons: Carson’s Zach Grkman and Daniel Yates.

The best player you’ve never heard of: East’s jayvee back Thomas Lowe has already been deemed a star of the future.

Most Photogenic: We actually kept up with photos in the Post from the first practice. The criteria was simple. Your name had to appear under a photo, whether it be a mug shot or action shot.

For the record, 184 different coaches and players were pictured on these pages.

North quarterback Daniel Griffith led the players with a whopping 21 photos.

West’s Young and Salisbury’s Joe Pinyan led the coaches with 16 each.

Which brings us to …

The Photo of the Year: West’s Tristan Dorty with arms pointing skyward on the last play of a win over West Iredell that clinched a third straight North Piedmont Conference crown for the Falcons.

Best Compliment: East coach Jim Crawley compared Ben DeCelle to former South — and East-West All-Star — Brad “The Hit Man” Lanning.

Should’ve Been All-County: West’s Justin Avery. How do you lead the county in interceptions and not get enough votes for this team?

Best Hair: Ever seen West’s Marco Gupton? He’s got so much hair that you could hit a golf ball in there and get a free drop.

Gupton edged Carson’s Dakota Jones and East’s Austin Venrick for this honor.

Best side job: North assistant Mark Mauldin works for Hendrick Motorsports as a pit crew coach for Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers.

Best Fit: Josh Carter attended Carson High School in Carson City, Nev., and began his Rowan County coaching career at — where else? — Carson.

Future Millionaire: East kicker J. Hylton Tucker. Doesn’t that sound like a rich guy’s name?

Best Chad Johnson Impression: Give some mustard to Parks, who did a flip into the end zone after scoring against West Iredell.

The Superman Award: Derrick Parker, whose best passing game at Salisbury was 68 yards before he became the man against East Davidson. He finished the 42-39 win with 259 yards passing and 304 total yards.


And finally …

If anything, football in Rowan County was thrilling.

We thought Week 3 would be the most exciting of the season. Of the teams the Post covered that Friday night, six touchdowns went for 76 yards or better, including two for 90 or better and three of at least 80.

Then came Week 10.

A total of 10 — count ’em, 10 — touchdowns went for 50 yards or better, including five of 80 or more. There were four kickoff returns for scores that night.

And just when you think it can’t get more exciting, you remember that next season is only eight months away.

And K.P. Parks will still be running — and flipping — his way through West Rowan record.


Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or