Salisbury hero: Jeremiah Stockdale
By Mike London
Salisbury corner Jeremiah Stockdale likes tips.
Doesn’t matter if they are informative tips from his coaches or deflected tips he can turn into interceptions.
The junior was instrumental in Salisbury’s hard-fought 27-18 victory over Carson on Friday. He made two interceptions, returning a ball tipped by linebacker O’Bryan Graham 41 yards for a second-quarter touchdown and adding a third-quarter pick for his county-leading third interception.
“Jeremiah attacks the ball high like we teach,” Salisbury defensive backs coach Webb Brannon said. “He has that knack for the football, and he knows how to play.”
Smart, feisty and fearless, Stockdale is going to get chances to pick off more passes because his small frame is an inviting target for quarterbacks. And while he has good speed, he isn’t one of the team’s blazers.
The Salisbury roster says Stockdale is 5-foot-10, 150 pounds, but that’s generous on both counts.
Plus, there’s the presence of senior Martin Hosch-Cathcart at the other corner. No sane offensive coordinator wants to attack Cathcart, an all-county stud who pilfered seven passes in 2007.
“We’ve talked to Jeremiah about that,” said Brannon, who was a safety at Mooresville. “Like when we played South Rowan. Martin had a great game against South last year so we knew they’d be looking to try the other side of the field.”
Opposing coaches who study Stockdale are usually convinced he could be Salisbury’s weak spot, but he’s he isn’t backing down.
“I understand how it is, but I’ve got to take it as a challenge,” Stockdale said.
Stockdale is well-rounded, talented in music, baseball and basketball, as well as football.
“He’s just an undersized guy who’s stayed around and kept plugging away,” Salisbury head coach Joe Pinyan said. “No, there’s not a lot to him, but he knows his limitations and he’s tough as nails.
“I’ve got to tip my hat to Coach Brannon for having faith in him. Every time I’ve thought maybe we needed a bigger, faster kid at that spot, Brannon’s always said Jeremiah can do the job.”
Brannon first got excited about Stockdale when he was a jayvee last season. Teams tried to pick on Stockdale and teammate Joseph “Figgy” Figueroa, who is even smaller, but picking on them usually led to picks.
Stockdale had 11 interceptions in two jayvee seasons. Some guys have an instinctive nose for the ball that can’t be taught. He’s obviously one of them.
“Right place, right time,” Pinyan said. “Talk about Johnny on the Spot. He’s been Jeremiah on the Spot.”
Salisbury likes to play “Cover 3” with eight in the box and a free safety to help out corners who are playing man-to-man. That was risky Friday because Carson receiver Daniel Yates, who is tall, fast and springy, is a serious threat.
Salisbury tried to get Hosch-Cathcart on Yates whenever possible, but in some situations, Stockdale had to contain him, and he didn’t allow a big play.
“We figured with Jeremiah that even if we couldn’t get switched every time, he’d still be OK,” Brannon said. “He just had to play Yates deep and play smart. And he always plays smart.”
But Pinyan knows, Brannon knows and Stockdale knows Friday’s opponent, West Stanly has noticed the small cornerback on film.
So Stockdale won’t get to rest on last week’s heroics.
“Teams will keep trying,” Stockdale said. “I’m sure I’ll have to keep proving myself every week.”