Prep Football: North Rowan notebook – Intensity won’t drop for Shrop

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 13, 2009

This is the third of eight
features on area teams.
Today: North Rowan
Tomorrow: East Rowan
By Mike London
The North Rowan notebook …
SPENCER ó The Rowan County Defensive Player of the Year in 1980 was Salisbury’s Alonzo Shropshire.
Shropshire played defensive guard in the Hornets’ scheme and made up for average size (5-foot-9, 185 pounds) with technique and tenacity. Running backs didn’t want to see No. 65 coming in their direction.
Salisbury won its first seven games in 1980, including a lockdown of Asheboro in which Shropshire was credited with 18 primary tackles. Think about that ó 18 tackles by a defensive lineman.
The apple sometimes doesn’t fall far from the tree, and Shropshire, the next generation, is an awful lot like his father was 29 years ago, both in appearance and approach.
The difference is the latest Shropshire wears green. He actually began his high school career at Salisbury, but he’s blossomed into a star at North Rowan. His first name is Vince, and at 5-8, 185, his father’s old uniform would fit him perfectly.
“Everything I’ve got, I got from him,” Vince said proudly.
He’s got quite a bit. He’s the engine that drives the Cavaliers. He’s their heartbeat.
As a senior, it’s likely Shropshire, a linebacker and running back, will be North’s leading tackler and leading rusher. He was All-Rowan County and All-CCC as a junior and looks forward to going both ways again. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve been running all summer so I’m in shape for it, and I think I’ll be off the field for most of our special teams to rest a little bit,” Shropshire said.
Last season wasn’t a barrel of laughs for the Cavs, who got started late ó new coach Tasker Fleming took over in July ó and never caught up. North was out-rushed 2,121 yards to 928 and quadrupled on the scoreboard ó 320 to 80.
How tough was it for “Shrop,” who rushed 99 times for 619 yards?
“It only made me work harder and come back stronger,” he said. “Last year won’t happen again. We’re a whole lot better. We’re playing more as a team. Intensity’s higher.”
Look for North to do fine in 1A. Look for No. 33 to be a big part of the turnaround.
“Whether it’s 1A or 4A, the intensity is the same on a Friday night,” Shropshire said. “The only difference is the number of players you have on the sidelines.”
THEY’RE BACK: Two coaches closely identified with North athletics are back assisting with football and can make a difference.
Robert Steele, the Hall of Fame track coach who also constructed fearsome North defensive units back in the day, has returned to football for the first time in a decade. Steele played on East Spencer Dunbar’s last football team in 1968 and was an all-county guard on East Rowan’s 13-0 1969 club.Steele is a motivator. He spoke to the defense, not about being competitive, but about shutting teams out.
“When Coach Steele says something, he talks with wisdom,” said North assistant Mike White, who is working with offensive tackles and tight ends.
White, all-county both ways in 1990 as a 6-6, 230-pound North tight end and defensive lineman, is back with football after a hiatus of three seasons.
“Coach Steele didn’t know I was coming back and I didn’t know he was coming back until we started talking football while we were painting a fence,” White said. “I’m back because Tasker is doing a great job. When you can see someone cares about the kids the way he does, you can’t say no.”
White said good football is vital to his school.
“If football goes well, the whole year gets off to a great start,” he said. “That carries over to all the other sports and to schoolwork.”
North’s first scrimmage is at home tonight, and White is as antsy as he was in his playing days. He expects linemen Garland Archie, Keith Reid, Emilio Locklear and Javon Hargave, a muscular tight end/defensive end who piled up 15 sacks as a super soph, to perform very well.
“Our numbers aren’t big, but our hearts are big,” White said. “I watched the games last year and it hurt sometimes. But this team is more disciplined. The players have learned you win games on the field by doing the work all week.”