Carson starting second season

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 6, 2007

Keeping up with Carson football …Carson is progressing, and loyal Cougar fans may enjoy the thrill of watching their team triumph for the first time this fall.
Coach Mark Woody’s commitments to two-platooning and the weight room aren’t going to make the Cougars conference champs overnight, but he’s rolled up his sleeves for the long haul.
In the short term, the Cougars have 20 starters back and could be in the hunt in the fourth quarter in lots of NPC games.
“But our league is pretty good, and there’s no game we can look at and say that’s one we’re going to get,” Woody said. “I’m sure there are other schools that are saying that about us, but that’s not a bad position to be in.”
North Rowan was 0-10 in its first season of competition in 1958 and moved forward to 2-7-1 in 1959. The Cougars have a chance to make similar strides.
“Hands down, we’re way ahead of last year,” Woody said. “The kids are a year older, and we’ve had good turnouts for football things since November. Sure, we’ve got a few ninth-graders that are lost, but so does everyone else.”Woody agrees it will be key for the Cougars to win early.
“When kids are working this hard, you’d like for them to see that reward,” he said. “You need something good to happen.”
HOME, SWEET HOME: This time last year Carson was practicing at China Grove Middle School.
Now it has a decent practice field to call its own.
“Logistically, that puts us so far ahead of a year ago it’s ridiculous,” Woody said. “With equipment, with laundry, just with kids knowing where to be and where to go.”
SCHEDULE: The Cougars will play a much more attractive slate this season.
Starting up last year, Carson had no alternative but to accept a grab-bag of non-league opponents to fill out the schedule. Playing schools such as East Gaston, Sun Valley, Fred T. Foard and Bunker Hill meant long road trips and uncertain gates.
Now, natural rivals East Rowan and South Rowan have joined Carson and West Rowan in the 10-team NPC. Carson’s two non-league outings are marquee games against athletic county foes รณ Salisbury and North.
“I don’t know that it’s going to be fun playing Salisbury and North,” Woody said with a chuckle. “But our kids are excited about it because they see those kids at the mall and know those kids.
“We played great teams last year like Sun Valley and East Gaston, but those were schools they’d never heard of.”

GOOD DECISION: Woody was grinning the second week of August about his decision to start practices at 7:30 a.m. Mid-day temperatures pushed toward 100 degrees, but the Cougars were long gone by then.
“At first the kids weren’t sure, but they liked it,” Woody said. “The coaches liked it because it gave them a chance to be husbands and fathers most of the day. We came out smelling like a rose on that one.”
POSITION CHANGE: Carson has moved Kenny Karriker from defense to fullback and believes he’s found a home. His blocking could make a difference for Daniel Yates, Carson’s all-county running back.
KID STUFF: Woody has seen as many as 78 players at practice and believes he’d have 90 if the school year was starting at the same time as the football season.
“It’s crazy,” Woody said. ” If school started earlier, we’d have a bunch more kids here that could help us, but they just don’t have transportation, and you can’t go get them all.”
QUARTERBACK: Ryan Jones, who impressed Woody with his determination last year, has the quarterback job to himself this time. Randy Shepherd, who split time with Jones in 2006, is concentrating on baseball.
Linebacker Dustin Craft is the emergency backup.
NEW FACES:Robert Howell, a 300-pounder who didn’t play last season, is a huge addition to Carson’s offensive line. Basketball players Dylan Horne, a 6-foot-5 defensive end, and Justin Basinger, a quick receiver who has cleared academic hurdles since last fall, also will make an impact.