Prep Football: Carson notebook
This is the fourth of eight features on area football practices.
Friday: East Rowan
By Ronnie Gallagher
Ryan Jones is ready to make up for lost time.
The Carson senior quarterback saw last season halted quickly when he damaged a collarbone in the first game against North Rowan. He returned later in the season, but he, nor the Cougars, were ever the same. An 0-11 record (and 0-22 in the school’s first two years) is something he and his teammates want to put behind them.
“We’re all healthy and ready to play,” Jones said. “We’re real excited about this year.”
He was saying the same thing last season when Carson opened against North. The Cougars ran for over 300 yards and appeared to be marching in for a score as Jones rolled out and headed downfield.
“One of their linebackers hit me on my left side and drove me down on my right collarbone,” Jones recalled. “I knew something was wrong. It wasn’t just a stinger.”
Jones returned to finish 28-of-85 for 554 yards.
GETTING CLOSE: Carson went on to lose that opener to the Cavaliers 12-7.
Four games later, Carson lost by a 10-0 margin to Lake Norman.
And then, there was Game 8 when North Iredell played host to Carson. Both were winless.
Carson jumped to a 17-7 lead and the first victory in school history was within reach.
North Iredell ran back two kicks for scores, however, and won 27-17, making it a long ride back to China Grove.
“It was very heartbreaking,” Jones said. We were so close and to have it ripped away, it bothers you.”
MORE INJURIES: Jones became one of several casualties last season.
Daniel Yates, the star running back, suffered a high ankle sprain in Game 2 that nagged him throughout the season.
Michael Childers and freshman quarterback Zach Gragg suffered ACL injuries.
Other players went down at practice with ankle problems.
“We had a lot of injuries early that we had no way of overcoming,” coach Mark Woody said. “They were magnified because we spent so much time getting our starters ready.”
LINEBACKERS: Childers has returned stronger from weightlifting over the summer. He has been moved from defensive back to linebacker.
Another linebacker who has shined in preseason is John Mullis.
“He’s another kid who has bought into the weightroom,” Woody said. “He has put on 30 pounds of muscle since last year. He’s running a 4.8 40.
BIG NUMBERS: Woody can easily two-platoon this season if he wishes. He still has 104 players at practice each day.
“I’d like to keep all ninth and 10th graders down on jayvee but we’re a year or two away from that,” he said. “This year, we only have two or three sophmores and maybe one freshman playing up.”
STICKING TOGETHER: Woody has kept the bulk of his coaching staff (Travis and Brian Billings, Andre Neely, Barry Mitchem and Josh Carson to name a few) together for three years.
“They’ve been really good to me,” Woody said. “They work hard. I told them, ‘We’ve got both feet in it. We can’t turn back now.’ ”
The summer work by the Cougar players has the staff excited.
“They know what we’ve been through and they know where we’re headed,” Woody said of his assistants.
NEW GUYS: Ben Hampton joined the staff midway through last year so he’s in his first complete season. Justin McIntyre is also a Cougar assistant.
Both are former all-county stars at West Rowan.
They go home on Oct. 10 when Carson travels to Mount Ulla.
SURPRISE: The most pleasant arrival this season is Weston Snow, a junior receiver. Known as a baseball player, this is his first season on the football field. Woody said Snow hadn’t missed a thing in the spring and summer.
“It’s always nice to get a kid who you had no idea he was even going to play,” Woody said.
Snow isn’t just a body. He has the potential to become one of the top pass catchers.
“He runs good routes, has good hands and good speed.” Woody said. “We’re excited about him.”
GOOD TIMING: Rain poured down on Wednesday morning, forcing practice indoors.
“We had a late night (on Tuesday) so it worked out pretty good,” Woody said.
KINDA SCRIMMAGING: The late night was because West Davidson came over from Tyro to practice with the Cougars.
Not scrimmage. Just practice.
“I’ve always wanted to do that,” Woody said. “Sometimes, as a coach, you get in that ‘go mode’ and want to scrimmage. You stop and think, ‘Is this the best thing for you?’
“We got a lot out of it. It was a really controlled practice but you’re going up against other people. That scrimmage stuff is overrated. You’re never as good as you think you are and you’re never as bad as you think you are.”
REAL SCRIMMAGE: Carson will scrimmage on Saturday night at 6 p.m. at J.M. Robinson in a jamboree that also features Hickory Ridge and Forest Hills.
FIRST GAME: Carson has to wait an extra week to play. It doesn’t start its season until Aug. 29 when it travels to North Rowan.
VIDEO: The Post will be following Carson throughout the season with weekly video clips on its Website.
The first episode of “The Road to Victory” is currently on line at salisburypost.com.