Prep Football: The Notebook, Week 9 – West’s passing game needs work
From staff reports
The West Rowan Falcons struggled with their passing game Monday in a 23-17 double-overtime win against Lake Norman as much as they have all season, finishing 5-of-19 for 48 yards as a team.
Starting quarterback B.J. Sherrill went 3-for-16 with one interception, which was returned for the first touchdown of the game. Jon Crucitti completed both passes he attempted on trick plays, while Brantley Horton had his only pass miss when it went off Crucitti’s fingers in the end zone on another trick play.
West coach Scott Young credited Lake Norman for the Falcons’ ineffectiveness.
“They brought good pressure,” Young said. “Second of all, they played some press man. And I don’t think we did a good job of getting the football where it needed to go. We missed reads.
“There were a couple times we had them, and we didn’t get the ball where we had them.”
ADVANTAGE: The Falcons figured they had the advantage once they held Lake Norman to a field goal to force overtime.
Why? K.P. Parks, of course. The all-time leading rusher in county history, Parks typically won’t have a problem gaining 10 yards in three or four plays.
But Crucitti cited more than just Parks as a reason West was confident after regulation.
“We got K.P., and we got Joe Nixon as our O-line coach,” he said. “He got those boys fired up. There was confusion and things like that, and then Coach Nixon just got the O-line together before overtime and said, ‘It’s time to get it in the end zone.’ ”
TRICK OR TREAT: West’s first reverse pass failed when Crucitti dropped Horton’s pass in the back of the end zone, but the Falcons succeeded when the two receivers/former quarterbacks switched roles.
Trailing 7-3 with less than three minutes remaining, West lined up for a second-and-10. Sherrill pitched the ball to Parks, who went around the left side.
Just before a defender got to him, Parks tossed the ball to Crucitti, who lined up as a receiver on the left side before retreating behind the line of scrimmage to the right. Once Crucitti got the ball from Parks, Horton was at least 15 yards behind any defender.
Horton easily caught the pass for a 10-7 lead with 2:26 remaining.
“No doubt that was a big boost for us,” Young said. “They had committed to man coverage to stop our run. When they do that, all you need is one over-aggressive guy and it’s bad news for the defense.”
Dario Hamilton had two long runs for Salisbury in its 24-7 victory against Ledford. Better yet, both plays resulted in touchdowns.
Hamilton raced for 43 yards on one play against the Panthers last year but was caught from behind by Ryan Fitzgerald, who forced a fumble.
Hamilton scored on third-quarter carries of 70 and 68 yards Monday.
“I think both touchdowns he had to reminisce about that guy running him down from behind last year,” Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan said. “He told me, ‘Coach, that won’t ever happen to me again.’ ”
MONDAY NIGHT PARTY: Were they ready for some football?
The Hornets played a Monday night game for the second straight week and didn’t take the lead until the third quarter.
“Our kids made the adjustments in the second half, but I didn’t like the lack of intensity,” Pinyan said. “Too many Monday night games get the wear and tear on you, I guess. They weren’t in school, and you could tell that.
“Maybe they were looking at North Rowan coming up; that’s always a big game for us. We played a real good football team and got a win, and we’re happy to have that.”Senior strong safety Scott Ashby (shoulder) missed Carson’s 21-7 NPC loss against Northwest Cabarrus on Friday.
Ashby’s absence was felt even though Northwest didn’t throw often.
He’s one of the harder-nosed Cougars, and Carson counts on Ashby and free safety Jenson Harden to help handle the run more than most teams depend on their safeties.
“Josh Mullis was in there for Scott, and he made some real good plays,” Carson coach Mark Woody said. “But it hurts anytime you don’t have one of your experienced leaders.”
BOUNCING BACK: The home loss to North Iredell, which was winless when it traveled to Carson on Nov. 17, may be a season-changer.
Carson, already boasting three wins at that point, was feeling good about racking up at least five and a playoff berth. Losing to North Iredell may have had some carryover to the Northwest game. Not that Carson was bad at Northwest, but it didn’t have the sort of fire it had against Lake Norman and South Rowan.
“Losing to North Iredell kind of crushed us,” Harden said. “But we still came in Monday ready to practice, and we had a good week.”
Carson will be a decided underdog in its last two games against Statesville and West Iredell.
CRACKING DOWN: In Carson’s landmark victory at Lake Norman, senior wideout Daniel Yates enjoyed one of the greatest games anyone’s had in the county this year, but it also made him a focus of defenses around the NPC. He’s been contained in Carson’s last four games ó all losses.
Yates has 11 carries for 26 yards the past four weeks while catching three passes for 38 yards and one touchdown. He’s dropped to 10th in the county in receiving and 15th in rushing.
The versatile Yates is third in punting, but he hasn’t broken a big kick return since the Lake Norman game.
Northwest allowed Yates to field deep kickoffs, but it angled them away from him so he couldn’t catch anything and head straight upfield with a head of steam.
In Carson’s three victories, Yates rushed for 120 yards, accumulated 127 yards in receptions and ran back two kickoffs for TDs, so his big-play capabilities are vital to the team’s success.
STEADY HAYES: Yates was stifled by Northwest cornerback Graham Wright, the Trojans’ best athlete.
On the other side of the field, Travis Hayes was working against tall, fast Grant Keyes, the Trojans’ second-best defender.
Hayes didn’t catch any deep ones, but he pulled in four balls for 48 yards.
Hayes has 54 catches for 973 yards and 10 TDs in his career. He holds all of Carson’s game, season and career receiving marks.
Hayes’ career has flown mostly under the radar, but he’ll become the first Cougar to impact the county record books the Post keeps for career passing, rushing and receiving.
WARRIOR WARREN: Shaun Warren rushed for 104 yards Friday, his fifth 100-yard effort of the season.
Warren broke Carson’s school record for rushing ó Yates had 561 yards in 2007 ó in this season’s sixth game and will likely become the first Cougar to rush for 1,000 in a season.
Warren broke Carson’s single-game rushing record with 183 yards against East Rowan earlier this season.
He scored his seventh TD against Northwest for a Carson season record.
QB SHUFFLE: Ryan Jones has completed 91 passes for 1,338 yards and 15 TDs in his career at Carson ó obviously, all school records.
His seven TD tosses this season broke the Carson season record he set last year.
The senior wasn’t injured, but he was ill part of last week and didn’t play a lot Friday. Sophomore Zack Gragg relieved Jones and aired it out 23 times.
Gragg is a key piece of the future for the Cougars, so it will be interesting to see what develops in the last two regular-season games.
It was another rough night for East Rowan in a 21-7 loss against North Iredell on Friday.
Senior Ben DeCelle still caught five passes for 41 yards. In nine games, he has 37 receptions for 517 yards and three TDs ó all the scores came against Carson.
East’s school record for regular-season receptions was set by Jon Bost, who made 43 catches during a 10-game season in 1988.
DeCelle, a three-year varsity player, has 76 catches for 1,069 yards and seven TDs in his career.
The only East players with more career receiving yardage than DeCelle rank high on the Rowan County receiving charts.
Johnny Yarbrough, still the school and county record holder nearly 40 years after his glory days, accumulated 2,862 receiving yards. A lot of them came in pressure-packed playoff games.
Nick Heard (1,848) ranks second in East history and sixth in county annals.
Penalties are probably the biggest culprit in North Rowan’s 0-9 season, and they continued to be deadly in a 29-20 loss against Central Davidson on Monday.
“Eighteen penalties against Ledford, 16 against East Davidson, 12 more tonight (against Central) with five minutes still left in the second quarter,” North coach Tasker Fleming said. “Guys are playing hard and a lot of the penalties are what I’d call emotional penalties, but we’re having way too many of them.”
PROPS FOR SHROPS: Vince Shropshire rushed for 191 yards against Central. North’s best offensive effort of the season included breakouts of 74 and 46 yards.
The 46-yarder went for six points, and the 74-yarder probably should have. Shropshire appeared to cross the goal at the right pylon as he was being tackled, but he was ruled down on the 1-foot line.
QB Jesse Rudisell sneaked for the touchdown on the next play as Shropshire got his breath back.
Shropshire’s big effort was the most yards a Cavalier has rushed for since Mark Sturgis went for 196 in a 2003 playoff game with South Robeson.
nNo. 1 for No. 2: Senior Lathan Charleston corralled two tipped passes Monday.
One was his second interception of the season. The other was his first touchdown catch of 2008.
Charleston had nine TD catches as a sophomore and three as a junior. He went over 1,200 receiving yards for his career Monday.
nNEVER GIVE UP: North will finish 0-11 unless it pulls off a monumental upset against either Salisbury or Lexington, but it hasn’t thrown in the towel.
“I think we just need more bonding as a team,” lineman Keith Reid said. “We’re showing good in practice, but we haven’t been able to carry it to the game.”
Reid pointed out leaders such as Shropshire, Javon Hargrave and Josh Young are still busting it in practice every day.
nBIG GAME: The traditional coach-speak is to throw the record book out the window for rivalry games, but North is probably a five-touchdown underdog against Salisbury on Friday.
It’s never been 9-0 vs. 0-9 in this series.
“We’re looking at it like it could make it a hard game if we come out and play the way we did in the second half against Central Davidson,” Young said. “With the rivalry and all, it’s going to be hard-hitting.”
Junior Deandre Harris has 1,463 rushing yards for his career and will try to go over 1,500 against West Rowan ó one of the toughest defenses against the run in county history.
CLOSE SHAVE: Linebacker Reid Shaver has four fumble recoveries. He’s the first Raider to have as many as four in a season since Jay Phillips in 2001.
A.L. Brown free safety Billy Simiton is readily identifiable in or out of uniform, partly because of serious muscles and partly because of a dark, heavy flowing beard that makes him look mature enough to be a college graduate.
“Had this beard since eighth grade,” Simiton said with a grin. “Guess that’s a little earlier than most.”
Just a little.
Teammates are in awe of the bold beard.
“Billy cut it once and it grew back in like three days,” linebacker Terrance Johnson said. “That beard has hang time.”
Coaches are sort of awestruck as well.
“Billy looks like Father Time,” said tight ends coach Jeremy Ryan, who gave the beard a gentle tug.
Not so long ago, Davie was 5-1 and ranked fourth in the state. It was coming off back-to-back wins scoring 51 and 50 points.
But injuries have taken their toll on the War Eagles.Davie has lost three straight.
After averaging 42 points in it first six games, Davie managed just 20, 17 and 12 in its next three.
The War Eagles lost to West Forsyth for the first time in five years. And the 24-12 loss to Reynolds on Friday was the first loss to Reynolds in six years.
POSITIVES: Quarterback Zach Illing has thrown for 2,089 yards, second only to Garrett Benge’s 3,071 in 2006.
Receiver Joe Watson already has 770 yards, third only behind Jonathan Mayfield’s 1,017 in 2006 and Floyd Collins’ 947 in 2007. He has 10 touchdown catches on the year, one off the school record.
Ronnie Gallagher, Mike London, Bret Strelow, Nick Bowton and Brian Pitts contributed to the notebook.