Prep Football Notebook: West still needs to work on passing game
From staff reports
The prep football notebook …
While an awful lot of things went right for West Rowan in a 60-0 waltz over North Rowan, the Falcons didn’t execute their passing game very well.
With B.J. Sherrill and Jon Crucitti throwing and Brantley Horton and Jonathan Hill catching, West potentially has a solid passing attack to complement the brilliance of tailback K.P. Parks, but the aerial game didn’t produce against North in the early stages when it was given opportunities.
West put its QB in the shotgun and showed its new spread look several times in the first half, and Sherrill connected with Horton for a 41-yard TD.
But underthrows, overthrows, miscommunications and drops added up to a 3-for-9 passing night.
“We didn’t look as good there tonight as we’ve looked in the scrimmages,” West coach Scott Young said. “We were pretty efficient throwing in the scrimmages. We’re not gonna abandon the spread after one off night. As the season moves along, it’s going to help us get some defenders out of the box, and it’ll open things up for K.P.”
ROUT: While sprinter Trey Mashore, who ran on West’s track relay teams with graduates Justin Avery, Jordan Lilly and Clay Browning last spring, scored the first two TDs of his varsity career on special teams against North, reserve tailback Nolan Phillips and defensive back Marco Gupton also found the end zone for the first time.
With a 60-0 lead with 16 minutes left to play, Young gave carries to every back on the roster. After that, he turned to jayvee Dinkin Miller to finish things off.
Parks, Phillips, Sherrill, Miller, Tim Flanagan and Coleman Phifer all had gains of 7 or more yards behind West’s stout offensive line.
AUTO-MATT-IC: West players talked soccer player Matt Turchin into joining the team, and he produced 10 points in his debut.
Turchin was perfect on seven PATs and his 25-yard field goal in the third quarter gave the Falcons one more field goal than they had in 2007.
Leading 50-0 early in the third quarter, West had fourth-and-1 deep in North territory. Young sent Turchin in for a field goal that was good practice and it also held down the score a bit. No one doubts West easily could have converted that fourth-and-1 and put another touchdown on the board.
SMITH IS NO MYTH: West’s Chris Smith, an often dominant defensive lineman as a sophomore, has added even more lean muscle now that he’s been introduced to the weightroom, and he may be a destructive force all season.
Besides Smith, Kenderic Dunlap, Eli Goodson, Brett Graham, Ricky Moore and Nate Dulin created havoc at the line of scrimmage ó and behind it ó for the Falcons.
LITTLE BIG MAN: West’s pass rush didn’t just produce a flurry of sacks, it forced a wobbly pass in the first half that A.J. Little alertly picked off after it was batted around.
Kiontae Rankin showed Friday that he can clog the middle effectively for Salisbury. At 6-foot-4, 385 pounds, Rankin got into the backfield several times to disrupt plays and did a good job chasing Houston.
Pinyan said Rankin “had a heck of a game just being a force there in the middle” and was pleased with his defense in general.
“Our defense, I was really concerned with the inexperience we have over there that those guys wouldn’t quite be ready,” Pinyan said. “But they grew up tonight. They grew up fast.”
WE MEANT TO DO THAT: Pinyan admitted that Salisbury made too many mistakes offensively Friday, most notably losing three fumbles.
The Hornets also recovered two of their own fumbles, one of which was returned 80 yards for a touchdown by A.J. Ford.
“That one play we put in this past week where you drop it and the other guy picks it up and runs 80 yards,” Pinyan joked. “That wasn’t exactly what we had planned.”
The Raiders didn’t win their opener against Salisbury, but they did play well enough to earn the praise of Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan.
Two seasons ago, Salisbury routed South. Last season, the Hornets won 20-13. On Friday, Salisbury held off South 16-14 only because it scored two touchdowns on its first eight plays.
“First of all, hats off to Coach Rollins and his staff,” Pinyan said. “They’ve put together a great football team. I don’t know how many they’ll win, but they are much, much improved.
“And if the people in China Grove and Landis aren’t happy with what they saw tonight, then they need to move somewhere else because those guys did a great job.”
GIVE HIM SOME ROOM: South quarterback Blake Houston rushed and passed for more than 100 yards against Salisbury and covered many more yards evading tacklers.
South coach Jason Rollins said Houston won’t be under as much pressure every night as he was Friday.
“He was just put in some bad situations,” Rollins said. “We struggled at times up front, and it kind of forced him into situations where he had to scramble for his life. But I’ll promise you this: That won’t happen again.
“I will find five offensive linemen that will block for him.”
WORN OUT: All of the scrambling he did left Houston zapped of energy after the game. He said it was the most he’s ever run in a football game.
“Oh, yeah,” Houston said. “By far. A whole lotta running. I wasn’t expecting that. I had to fight through it, go as hard as I could, get what I could get.”
North obviously didn’t have much to roar about, but 5-foot-7 sophomore Cameron Mallett had some nice kickoff returns. He had one return of 33 yards that allowed the Cavaliers to start at midfield.
FEW BIG PLAYS: With athletes such as Mallett and Lathan Charleston, North has a chance to beat some teams with big plays, but West’s defense permitted only four plays all night that gained double-digit yards.
North gained its two biggest chunks of real estate on passes from sophomore quarterback Jesse Rudisell to junior tight end Sam Mauldin, who was roaming behind West’s secondary.
Senior cornerback Perry James made his long-awaited return in Davie’s season-opening win against Watauga.
James, who missed the entire 2007 season because of a shoulder injury, had a 23-yard punt return that gave Davie a short field for its second touchdown drive in a 41-7 victory. He nearly intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter.
“I was excited,” James said. “First quarter, I got a little winded, got a little hot and started cramping up like crazy. It felt good to be out there moving fast at a pace the coaches like.”
DUAL THREAT: Jacob Barber made an impressive debut in Davie’s backfield.
Barber, a sophomore, took his first snap as a varsity quarterback with seven minutes left in the third quarter. He ran for 2 yards on a keeper, and starter Zach Illing later returned to the lineup for a first-and-goal play from the 9. Barber stayed in, lined up at running back and gained 8 yards. James Mayfield scored to give Davie a four-touchdown lead.
Barber played quarterback the rest of the way and finished with 54 yards on six carries. He also completed a pass to Skeeter Montgomery for 8 yards.
“We want to ease (Barber) into it and get him a taste of Friday night,” Davie coach Doug Illing said. “As he gets under the lights and sees the speed of the game and feels pressure, I think you’ll see him in a lot of different situations.”
Davie added a late touchdown thanks to the running of Barber and Jacob Vernon.
Vernon had 10 carries for 67 yards and one TD in the final 14 minutes. He gained 28 yards on one rush and 11 on another.
Mooresville’s Jjshaun Pinkston rushed 31 times for 255 yards and scored five TDs in a 40-35 loss to Bandys. … West Iredell’s Quan Rucker made a successful transition from receiver, which will be his college position at Wake Forest, to quarterback. He rushed for 131 yards and threw for 95 as the Warriors walloped Forbush. … The margin of CCC club Central Davidson’s romp over North Stanly was a surprise, as was SPC club Hickory Ridge’s destruction of a Mount Pleasant squad that went 14-1 last season. … New school Providence Grove, which will compete in the CCC, opened with a victory against Randleman.
On Friday, WBTV Channel 3 will be at the Faith Lutheran Church Family Life Center. The viewing party will invite Carson and East Rowan. A deejay will provide music from 10 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. Refreshments will be served. Friday
WBTV will have coverage of both East-South and Carson-North games.
Mike London, Bret Strelow and Nick Bowton contributed to the notebook.