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Friday Football Fever: Ronnie's roaming the county

Roaming the county getting ready for tonight …South Rowan travels to next-door neighbor Carson tonight. One team is 3-2. The other is 1-4.
C’mon now, be honest. Did you really think Carson would be the team with the winning record?
Coming into the season, South Rowan was much improved. Carson had never won a game in its history.
But here they are, going in opposite directions. Things have gone Carson’s way. Things have not gone South’s way.
“They’ve had bad breaks,” Carson coach Mark Woody said. “We’ve been fortunate.”
Last week was a perfect example.
Carson overcame two fourth-quarter deficits to beat Lake Norman. The Cougars scored on plays of 46, 90 and 94 yards and came through in the clutch every time.
South Rowan thought it had come through in the clutch. As the clock ticked off the final seconds, the team was up 20-17. The Raiders then blocked a last-gasp field-goal attempt by West Iredell.
That’s a good thing, right? Seemed like it until the Warrior holder picked up the loose pigskin.
“There was a big swarm,” recalled South defender Reid Shaver, who was on the field. “I’m like, ‘They’ve got him.’ Then I’m like, ‘Oh man, no way.’ ”
Shaver, as well as everyone else wearing Raider red, watched in horror as one of the most looney, wacky, unfathomable, unbelievable, say-it-ain’t-so plays that South fans have seen too many times unfolded.
The holder threw a touchdown pass to win the game.
“You can’t describe it,” Shaver said quietly. “It’s like, ‘Wow, that really happened.’ ”

South coach Jason Rollins was still in a daze when he went to church on Sunday.He sought out his pastor.
“I’m looking for some advice,” Rollins told him, “hopefully some devine intervention. What do I say to my players on Monday?”
When Monday came?
“I really didn’t have to say anything,” Rollins noted. “When I looked into their eyes, I knew they were back on track.”
And a kid’s resilience is exactly why guys like Rollins are in this business.
“The fans see the heartbreak on Friday,” Rollins said. “But we see them coming in on Monday focused.”

Rollins stood frozen as that last play evolved. He knew his defense was going to block the kick.
“The way we hit it was picture-perfect,” he said. “So it was a weird feeling. The coaches from West Iredell were as shocked as we were. To see our kids with tears rolling out of their eyes … what do you say to them? You finally go a full 48 minutes and give it all you’ve got and the monkey is still on your back.”
Woody was listening on the radio.
“It sounded really crazy,” he said, shaking his head. “You hate for anybody to lose like that. South did the right thing on that play. It was just a tough break.”

But it’s over, OK?
Shaver knows you can’t feel sorry for yourself when Carson is next on the schedule.
“We were down last week,” the hard-hitting redhead smiled, “but we’re back up this week.”
When Carson opened its doors so close to South, and took so many of South’s athletes, there was instant animosity. Rollins and Woody want the rivalry. They don’t want hatred between the China Grove and Landis communities.
“Mark and I have talked about it many times,” Rollins said. “I want this to be a good rivalry. We’re only five miles apart and I know a lot of people over there.
“We want it to be fun. We want it to be something that, when it’s over, that horrible tension that some rivalries face is scratched and everyone knows it was a great ballgame on both sides.”

Expect both sides to be filled.
The southern end of this county has the most loyal bunch of fans you’ll find anywhere. If their school is playing, they’re in the stands.
“It will be a big crowd,” Woody understated.
“It’s fun to have the big crowd,” Rollins agreed.
The Carson crowd has cheered long and hard this season because of the newfound Cougar confidence.
“The past two years, we wanted to win,” Woody said. “We just weren’t ready. We have the ability now. We expect to win.”
That might be why many fans think Carson is favored.
“We’re favored?” Woody asked with an incredulous look. “I didn’t know that. I hate to tell you this, but we don’t put a lot of stock in that. People need to understand South’s a lot better than its record.”
And don’t forget South crushed Carson last year 35-6. So the Raiders will be expecting to win, too.
“It’s going to be a good game,” Shaver said. “It’s South and Carson.

There are three other games in the county.
East Rowan is playing host to Lake Norman in its Homecoming. Salisbury is home to East Davidson and North Rowan looks for its first win of the season in Spencer against West Davidson.
West Rowan travels to West Iredell, Davie drives to the big city to meet Greensboro Page and A.L. Brown drives to outer Mongolia to meet Parkwood.

On the air tonight:
– The dynamic duo of Howard Platt and Wilson Cherry will call Salisbury’s game on WSTP 1490 AM.
– WSAT 1280 AM will have its group of reporters scattered everywhere to give live updates of all the games.
– The always entertaining Carl Ford and the coach, Bob Parker, will be at South-Carson on WRNA 1140 AM.
– The velvet-voiced Randy Whitley and former Wonder coach Buddy Amerson will be on WKRB 1460 AM bringing you A.L. Brown-Parkwood.
Go enjoy a game tonight, folks. And be nice.

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

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