Prep football practice begins
By Nick Bowton
firstname.lastname@example.orgCarson and third-year coach Mark Woody haven’t won a game in two seasons as a program, but that didn’t stop the Cougars from having the highest first-day turnout of all six Rowan County high schools when practice officially opened Friday.
Woody said 100 players showed up, an increase of about 10 since last season.
The familiar names returned, like running back Daniel Yates and quarterback Ryan Jones. Woody said sophomore Shawn Warren, known by his teammates as “Bush,” looks ready for a breakout season, and the Cougars have a deep freshman class as well.
“We’ve been working out all summer, so it hasn’t been a big change of gears for us,” Woody said. “We saw 85 kids at one point and were holding on average about 60. We got it in cruise, and it’s nice to be able to do that.
“We’re as far along right now as we’ve been at any point.”WEST ROWAN
West Rowan had 88 players at its first practice, including a new Falcon in former Mooresville quarterback Jon Crucitti.
A multi-sport athlete at Mooresville his first two years of high school, Crucitti will compete with Brantley Horton and B.J. Sherrill for the Falcons’ starting quarterback position.
West also had a new assistant coach in former North Iredell head coach Lee Linville, and Kenny Karriker is in the process of joining the team as a volunteer.
West, of course, also has standout running back K.P. Parks back for his junior season. Parks has already rushed for 4,257 yards.
“He looks a little better this year,” West coach Scott Young said. “That kid’s done a tremendous amount of work getting ready for the football season. real pleased with him.”
In 2007, the Mustangs fielded the best team they’ve had this decade.
They’ll have to fill plenty of holes to remain successful, as several key starters graduated and some players chose to focus on other sports. Coach Brian Hinson had 75 players at practice Friday and said he’s hoping to get 85 or 90.
“It’s hard for us to compete with baseball at a baseball high school and in a baseball community,” Hinson said. “We got kids that are banking scholarship money in baseball, so they want to specialize in baseball.
“We lost some kid to that theory. That leaves us with some holes to fill.”
Hinson did fill two holes on his staff, with Piotr Kalinowski coming over from Salisbury to coach linebackers and recent Catawba graduate James House helping on the defensive line.
SALISBURYLike the Mustangs, Salisbury had about 75 players report for the first day of practice, but Hornets coach Joe Pinyan said he should have 20 or 30 more once AAU basketball and AAU track athletes show up.
Those players who did participate Friday impressed Pinyan with their enthusiasm.
“I really thought the excitement level around here was different,” he said. “Even though we’ve won five conference championships, everybody realizes with everybody we graduated that we might not be a preseason favorite. Everybody might be looking at Lexington and things like that.
“With that in mind, coaches and kids all came with a level of excitement today.”
One position, in particular, should continue to produce excitement, as incumbent quarterback John Knox tries to fend off newcomers O’Bryan Graham (North Rowan) and Linares Pagan (North Mecklenburg) for the starting quarterback spot.
“They’re all three pushing the heck out of each other,” Pinyan said.
SOUTH ROWANRaiders coach Jason Rollins said a tough summer workout regimen made the first official practice seem almost easy in Landis.
“Practice went as smooth as it’s gone in the three years since I’ve been back,” Rollins said. “You get those first-day jitters of who’s gonna show up, who’s not gonna show up. Everybody showed up; all those kids were ready to go. Today’s practice was easy compared to what they’ve done all summer.
“They got finished up, looked at us and said, ‘Coach, is that it?’ That’s when you know you worked them hard in the summer.”
Rollins is working with a few new coaches this season, as Barry Lipscomb left Central Cabarrus to be South’s defensive coordinator and former Purdue receiver Drew Rucks took over as receivers coach. Scott Eagle came to South from North Rowan, as well, and will coach the offensive line.