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Prep Football: Salisbury notebook

This is the seventh of eight features on area football practices.
Today: Salisbury
Wednesday: West Rowan
By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
Salisbury guard Tory Turner missed a practice not long ago, an occurrence that shocked coach Joe Pinyan at least as much as the landing of a flying saucer at Ludwig Field would have.
Nothing serious. Turner just got his practice times mixed up, and while the Hornets were practicing he was at the mall celebrating his birthday.
“Thank goodness the kid’s only got one birthday,” Pinyan quipped. “We need him out here.”
Turner, a 5-foot-10, 265-pound senior, was quick to point out he doesn’t miss football-related stuff often
“That was just one crazy day,” he said sheepishly. “I never miss practice.”
Turner also had at least one crazy day last year. He was on his mo-ped when a car suddenly pulled out. Turner crashed and was seriously banged up. He broke a bone in his leg and got an arm torn up pretty bad. Lots of scars.
“We’ve got to keep Tory off that thing,” Pinyan said with a sigh. “We can’t get him hurt this year.”
Recovery from the mo-ped incident took time and caused Turner to miss four games his junior year.
If you’re wondering why Salisbury’s line suddenly got better at midseason in 2007, Turner’s return to health had something to do with it.
His debut came in Game 5 ó Salisbury’s comeback from a 25-0 halftime deficit to beat Eastern Randolph.
Playing mostly left tackle the rest of the way, Turner proved adept at sealing the outside and allowing the Hornets’ bevy of quick backs to break long gains.
Zach Whitaker and Joe So were the best-known of Salisbury’s O-linemen last year, but Turner, who was recently selected as a team captain, is definitely the guy Pinyan is looking at to lead the unit this season.
“We’re just starting to build something,” Turner said. “We’re getting stronger and getting better every day.”
Turner was listed at 230 last season, so he’s added 35 pounds of muscle. He’s been a regular lifter just about every session the Hornets have had the last two years, and he bench-pressed 290 pounds last spring.
“The weight room is just another room in the house for Tory,” Pinyan said. “He knows what that weight room is for, and he’s reaping the benefits of it.”
Turner was a promising defensive linemen as a sophomore, but Pinyan figures he’s found a permanent home on offense. In practices and scrimmages, he’s been working mostly at left guard, Whitaker’s old spot.
“Right now Tory is the best we’ve got on the O-line,” said Pinyan, who coaches the unit, along with Steven Swayney. “He’s also the biggest we’ve got on the O-line. We’ve got a bunch of mighty mites, and so far they’re playing above their abilities.”
Other components of the Hornets, especially the receivers, will be young.
“We’re really young some places,” Pinyan said. “Tory understands why leadership from guys like him is going to be so important.”
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TWO-PLATOON BLUES: Pinyan learned the two-platoon system at Mooresville and has instituted it with great success at Salisbury.
But it may be a challenge finding 22 starter-worthy players this time. And if the injury bug strikes, a few studs are almost certain to have to go both ways.
“We’ve got our kids learning that second position, just in case,” Pinyan said.
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THIN RANKS: While Salisbury has quality, quantity might be an issue. The senior class is small. Pinyan counts 13.
“And only 11 of those 13 have played a game for Salisbury High,” he said.
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NAMES TO KNOW: Salisbury doesn’t throw often, but the youthful receiving corps may produce big plays.
Freshman Dejoun Jones has special written all over him. Three more freshmen ó receiver Daquan Robertson, running back Dominique Dismuke and linebacker Terrance McElrath are on the varsity.
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JOE KNOWS FOOTBALL: Like the multi-colored football in Pinyan’s office says: “Joe knows football.”
Salisbury is 5-for-5 as far as winning league championships under Pinyan and he’s 48-17 as a head coach.
Salisbury was 12-65 under four different head coaches in the seven seasons before he was hired.
Boyden High won state championships in 1955 and 1957 under coach Bill Ludwig, and coach Pete Stout produced fantastic teams in the first half of the 1970s, but Salisbury’s current run of five consecutive conference titles is unprecedented in school history.
As far as football in the city of Salisbury, you’d have to go back to all-black J.C. Price High’s incredible run in the 1940s and 1950s under coach S.W. Lancaster to find as many consecutive league crowns. Price’s 1940 team battered 11 opponents by a combined 336-0 and won a state championship.
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SCRIMMAGES: Salisbury traveled to Burns last Thursday to take on Burns, Freedom and Asheville Reynolds.
“Our guys saw Reynolds come out and they were like, “Coach, I thought we were scrimmaging high school teams,’ ” Pinyan joked. “Reynolds did look like the Green Bay Packers and they’ll be one of the best in 4A, but you don’t get better unless you play good teams.”
Pinyan said the Hornets scored four times in 10 minutes against Freedom
That scrimmage came about because Pinyan got to know Burns coach Ron Greene when they were on a Shrine Bowl staff.
Two days after the scrimmage at Burns, the Hornets tangled with South Stanly, Albemarle and Charlotte Latin. Pinyan said former Panthers, Saints and 49ers tight end Wesley Walls’ son played for Latin and was “a specimen.”
“We were a little sore, but we did OK,” Pinyan said. “We scrimmaged six good football teams. We didn’t grab hold of any cupcakes.”
nBREAKERS AND BRAKERS: While the Hornets have backs such as Dario Hamilton and A.J. Ford who are “breakers,” Pinyan joked his team lacks backfield depth and won’t have “brakers” to insert to hold down the score late in games.
“By brakers, I mean kids who can put the brakes on us in a blowout,” Pinyan said. “Of course, right now we’re not anywhere close to having to worry about being in that position.”
nFIRST FOUR: The Hornets are young enough that Pinyan wants go get them through the “first season” part of the campaign with confidence and health intact.
“Our first four games are key, not necessarily that we have to go 4-0, but we need to get better for the CCC season,” Pinyan said.
Salisbury has never started poorly under Pinyan. It’s been 2-2, 4-0, 4-0, 4-0 and 3-1.
The Hornets play South Rowan (Friday at Ludwig Stadium), East Rowan, Carson and West Stanly early.
nRALLY TALLY: If Salisbury trails at halftime, don’t leave. Pinyan’s coached 10 comeback wins in games the Hornets trailed at the half.
nJAYVEES: Salisbury’s jayvees open against 4A Davie County.
“Our kids aren’t afraid,” Pinyan said. “But I am.”
Davie nipped the Hornets 22-20 last season.

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