Friday Football Fever: Ronnie's roaming the county

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 19, 2008

And now, presenting the first-place team in the North Piedmont Conference: (drumroll, please) South Rowan.
So what if South is sharing its 1-0 record with West Rowan, Mooresville, West Iredell and Statesville?
The Raiders are in first. No one is above them. And that’s all that matters.
A rousing 27-8 win over Northwest Cabarrus has the community buzzing. Seven days later, the congratulations haven’t stopped for coach Jason Rollins.
He was at the Rowan County Fair earlier this week when he was approached by someone he didn’t recognize.
“I had no clue who he was,” Rollins noted. “He said, ‘Coach, that’s the best I’ve seen South Rowan play in a long time.’ ”
Rollins replied, “It says a lot about those kids.”

In a perfect world, the win over the previously unbeaten Trojans will be a program-turner. One day, Rollins may point to September 12, 2008 as the day South Rowan became a threat each and every week.
The players are certainly enjoying their moment in the sun.
“They have been walking around with a bounce in their step,” Rollins said.
But he was quick to lecture his Raiders on not getting too high.
“You’re excited about winning,” he told them at Monday’s team meeting. “And you need to be. But you must understand you need to be humble. Each week is a new week.”
Tonight, South travels to Statesville, a team full of seniors that showed signs of being an NPC contender last season while playing a bunch of juniors.
“We’re sitting where they were last year,” said Rollins, who plays a very talented group of underclassmen.”
Statesville is coming off a loss (a 10-7 defeat to South Iredell). Rollins has tried to keep everything in perspective. He knows he’s dealing with teenagers and he doesn’t want to see overconfidence, especially from a program that hasn’t won more than three games in a season since 2003.
“This is some uncharted territory for these kids,” he admitted. “It’s one thing to win on Thursdays (as a jayvee). It’s different on Friday with the publicity and how it’s all out in the open. You have to be humble.”

Over in the corner of Rollins’ office is a skull on a stick. Each week, a Raider is given the “Skully Award.” A rock out by the field has a hole drilled in it for the skull.
This week, Matt Coggins was awarded the skull for sacrificing during practice.
“We give it to a kid who may or may not hit the field but who helps us prepare for the game,” Rollins said.
Coggins, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior lineman, didn’t just help the team prepare. He helped win the game, pouncing on one of the Trojans’ eight turnovers.
Did he appreciate the skull.
“He held it high,” Rollins smiled.

Every “Skully” winner appreciates it. Rollins said the first recipient, Chandler Shirley, comes by the school occassionally.
“He says, “I still have it in my room,’ ” Rollins laughed.

Coggins and his teammates played well but sophomore Tyler Rea could be given the “Skully” award every week for his efforts.
Tyler who?
Tyler Rea, the manager.
“If it wasn’t for Tyler, we’d struggle at every practice,” Rollins said. “He gets every pad out. He gets all the water out. He drives kids to the field who might be late to practice because they took a test. He does everything.”
He sounds like your MVP, coach.
“Without a doubt,” Rollins said. “And we’ve got him for two more years.”

West Rowan faces Northwest tonight. Coach Scott Young was asked what he thought after watching the film of South’s win.
“South has a lot of team speed,” he said. “They have a lot of good schemes offensively and defensively.”
And Northwest?
“It would be nice if they turned it over eight times like they did against South,” he quipped.

The only county matchup tonight has East Rowan at Carson. The Mustangs will hit the field without the county’s second-best runner Thomas Lowe, who was dismissed earlier this week.
“Thomas is a good kid,” Rollins sighed. “My wife works over there and knows him well. He’s down.”
But as a coach, Rollins also sympathizes with East’s Brian Hinson.
“It’s going to be hard on them,” Rollins said. “But a coach has to do what’s best for his program, not the individual. I know Brian will find a way to fill in the holes.”
Young agreed.
“Coach Hinson has a good staff. They’ll get it fixed.”

The other area games tonight have Davie traveling to Berry and A.L. Brown going to Anson County.

On the air, the dynamic duo of Howard Platt and Wilson Cherry are calling the East-Carson game on WSTP 1490 AM.
You know Carl Ford will be pumped up on WRNA 1140 AM calling South.
WSAT 1280 AM will have their regular assortment of reporters at all the games, breaking in with updates.
Go to a game tonight, folks. And here at the Post, we have only two rules for ya: Have fun and be nice.

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com.

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