Gallagher column: Ronnie's roaming the county

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 24, 2008

By Ronnie Gallagher
Roaming the county getting ready for tonight …
The notion occurred to Windsor Eagle a couple of weeks ago. The Salisbury principal had watched his school’s football team fail on a fourth-and-one against West Davidson.
Why not use 400-plus-pound defensive lineman Kiontae Rankin in the backfield on short-yardage situations?
“Remember how Chicago used William Perry? You can have The Freezer,” coach Joe Pinyan said Eagle told him.
We should always remember that Eagle was a coach back in the day. Pinyan listened and gave one of those, “Hmmm, not a bad idea” musings.
“I toyed around with it,” Pinyan said. “I told (Rankin), ‘If you can block and get us in the hole, we’ll eventually give you the ball.’ ”
So there Pinyan was on Monday night, his team on the Lexington 1-yard line. The Hornets would win 28-25, but at the 11-minute mark of the second quarter, they trailed 7-0.
Pinyan told the big fella to hit the field.
He sent Rankin in with the play. However, in the translation between the sideline and the huddle, the play got muddled. Pinyan wanted A.J. Ford to carry the ball. But he called Rankin’s number.
“I called the wrong play,” Pinyan shrugged. “I screwed up and gave it to him on the first try.”
The ball was stuffed into Rankin’s gut and The Freezer hit the pile.
“It took about five minutes for that play,” Pinyan laughed. “You remember the movie, ‘The Longest Yard?’ You could have watched that movie twice by the time he got the ball and scored.”
It was the slowest-moving pile in football history.
“You’re waiting for the whistle to blow. It never does,” Pinyan said. “The pile keeps moving. The refs’ arms finally go up and you’re thinking, ‘I guess that was a good play.’ ”
Rankin went back on defense but his night was made. The Freezer had scored.
“He’ll be happy now,” Pinyan said. “He’ll be telling Ike (Whitaker) to play defensive line and he’ll play in the backfield.”
Will this be a common sight, seeing The Freezer run the ball?
“One play, one yard, one touchdown,” Pinyan said. “We don’t want to push our luck.”

When Salisbury trailed Lexington in the CCC’s first-place showdown 25-14, it all looked hopeless. But the Hornets came back to win.
As always.
“Somebody said, “I can’t believe we came back,” Pinyan said. “One of our assistants, Justin Morgan, said, ‘Why not? That’s what we do. It doesn’t matter how we get it done. We just win.’ ”
Pinyan said he saw the players peering at the coaches with a “How do we get back in this thing?” look.
“The great thing about our assistants is, they were calm and relaxed,” Pinyan said. I didn’t sense any panic on our side. It’s like the old Lou Holtz speech. He said, ‘Don’t flinch.’ We didn’t.”

Who will flinch tonight?
Salisbury goes to dangerous Ledford trying to avoid a letdown in a short week.
Three teams are at home with the biggest matchup in the North Piedmont Conference between second-place Mooresville and surging South Rowan.
The Raiders have won three straight. A win tonight and the Raiders pop all the way up into a tie for second.
First-place West Rowan plays host to enigmatic Lake Norman, East Rowan goes to North Iredell and Carson travels to Northwest Cabarrus in other NPC games.
North Rowan is at home against Central Davidson in a CCC game the Cavs can certainly win.
Davie and A.L. Brown have road trips. The War Eagles visit Reynolds and the Wonders go to Hickory Ridge.

A shout-out to my main man Jim Crawley.
His former team, East Rowan, may be in last place, but his current team, the China Grove eighth grade, is in first place. It moved into a tie after beating Southeast on Wednesday.
Crawley says he is enjoying himself at this level, serving as an assistant to Jim Barringer’s team. He gets to take his daughters to school every day, he isn’t grilled after every game by a Post reporter and there aren’t problems with parents.
But once a high school coach, always a high school coach. He didn’t rule out a return to that level when his daughters get out of middle school.

On the air tonight:
– The dynamic duo of Howard Platt and our latest Hall-of-Famer Wilson Cherry will call West’s game on WSTP 1490 AM. Make sure to listen to Cherry’s commentary at halftime. It’s very entertaining.
– The fast-moving football show on WSAT 1280 AM, anchored by Mark Lowman, will have reporters at all the games, updates by my other main man Johnny Cloer, and cut-ins to other radio stations for live play-by-play.
– The politician, Carl Ford, and the coach, Bob Parker, will call South’s game on WRNA 1140 AM.
– The velvet-voiced Randy Whitley and former A.L. Brown coach Buddy Amerson will bring us the Wonders on WRKB 1460 AM.
Go enjoy a game tonight folks. And be nice.

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or