Friday Night Hero: South Rowan’s Josh Wike
By Mike London
LANDIS ó The play was basic as it getsó 24 Iso.
South Rowan was looking for 5 yards. Instead, the Raiders got a 71-yard, second-quarter dash by wingback Josh Wike that keyed Friday’s 7-3 victory against Lake Norman.
“They had a linebacker stunting and he stunted into the wrong gap ó for them,” South head coach Jason Rollins said. “Josh got hit in the backfield, but he pulled away. Then he was through the hole quick. And once Josh gets through, you’re done. You’re not gonna catch him.”
Wike has fine acceleration. He’s good in the 100 meters, mostly because of what he does in the first 40.
Wike smiled when he saw wide open spaces. He almost laughed out loud thinking about the coaches watching from the film platform.
“I figured Coach (Steve) London was up there having a heart attack,” Wike said.
He almost was. All the coaches were. Everyone was thrilled for Wike, who scored 16 touchdowns his first two varsity seasons but hadn’t visited the end zone as a senior before Friday.
A simple sheet of paper taped to the door of South’s locker room reads, “It’s amazing how much can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.”
Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden first preached that sermon decades ago, but it’s found a new audience at South.
“We’ve tried to encourage the guys to play to win as a team without standouts,” Rollins said. “We’ve tried to break some old mindsets.”
While South has two junior phenoms in back Deandre Harris and defensive end Cadarreus Mason, both act like they’re nothing special, and strides have been made as far as Raiders playing for each other, their coaches and their school rather than worrying about individual stats or accolades.Wike has sacrificed as much as anyone. With the emergence of Harris, he’s no longer the focal point of the offense, but he now doubles as a starting cornerback on the county’s second-best defensive unit.
“Wike’s been a surprise on defense,” DBs coach Bryan Withers said. “We used to have to beg him to play, but now he’ll pout if he has to come out of a game. He’s helped us play very well against the pass. He also adds the dimension of being a physical corner.”
Playing both ways was tough for Wike in September. It’s gotten easier as the weather has cooled.
“He’s not running out of gas now,” Withers said.
Wike adjusted his mindset and started thinking defense during the summer months.
“I was a little iffy about defense,” Wike said. “But the first scrimmage this year against North Rowan I started liking it.”
Wike is tough. He missed three games his sophomore year when he got hurt lowering his shoulder on the sideline rather than stepping out of bounds in a game South lost 51-0. He also has a good memory.
“I remember my sophomore year and how hard losing was on the seniors,” Wike said. “We’re more physical now and we move past the bad plays better and pick each other up. That’s why we’re winning more. It’s been a good senior year.”
Wike, who carried the ball 32 times two years ago against A.L. Brown, has only 38 attempts in eight games this season, but one special carry Friday proved he’s still a big-play threat.
“Running the ball is still fun,” Wike said. “I followed (Steve) Sexton, our fullback, into the hole. Their linebacker blitzed and all I could see was green grass.”
A beautiful sight.