2009 Football: North Rowan preview
By Ronnie Gallagher
SPENCER ó OK, the growing pains are over at North Rowan.
The 1-10 Cavaliers (the win was a forfeit) spent last season getting used to new coach Tasker Fleming and it showed.
But in 2009, the head coach is showing a wide smile. His team is buying in.
“We graduated six seniors and two were big players,” he said. “We didn’t lose a lot.”
The team also has moved out of the 2A Central Carolina Conference and is now in the 1A Yadkin Valley.
“Ideally, East and West Davidson, Salisbury, Lexington and us would’ve been a nice local conference,” Fleming said. “But reality is what it is. We’re 1A.”
Fleming said his team will have several two-way players, but the strength and conditioning since last season has improved.
One of the important Cavs is returning all-conference and all-county performer Vince Shropshire. Fleming also returns the CCC Defensive Player of the Year in Javon Hargrave.
But he is still searching for a quarterback.
Jesse Rudisell played out of position there last season and is back. Hunter Feezor and Matt Mauldin are juniors and T.J. Allen, a freshman, has had his moments.
“Jesse did what we asked in running the offense,” Fleming said. “It’s a nice surprise to see Feezor come out. He has picked things up very quickly.”
Fleming’s running backs all return, led by fullback Shropshire. He is a muscular 5-8, 200 pounds.
“He has always led the way in the weight room,” Fleming said. “He’s cut from top to bottom. He’s a quiet leader but you know he’s out there when he’s on the field. And he’s a leader in the classroom.”
Speedster Cameron Mallett, Darius Jackson and Eric Robertson can also run the ball.
Hargrave can even play fullback or tight end. Also at tight end is Sam Mauldin, Matt’s brother.
Wing players in Fleming’s Wing-T offense are Terry Allen and Rudisell.
Wide receivers include Pierre Givens off the jayvees.
“In my opinion, he’ll be one of the better receivers in the county,” Fleming said. “He has speed and leaping ability.”
Fleming also likes the instincts of Matt Laurens, better know for baseball.
The Robinson brothers will anchor the line.
Younger brother Will, a sophomore, appears to have won the center spot.
“He runs well,” Fleming said of the 6-0, 240-pounder. “I wouldn’t mind using him at fullback.”
Brother Jon will be moved around because of a lack of depth. The 6-1, 190-pounder is learning three positions.
“He’s a natural center, but he’ll play two tackle spots and center,” Fleming said.
Dominique Meade and Emilio Locklear are guards.
Keith Reid and Garland Archie are tackles.
“Archie saw more time on defense,” Fleming said. “He’s a 240-pounder who can run. We have mobility we didn’t have last year.”
And that’s important.
“The biggest problem last year was that we didn’t protect very well,” Fleming said. “It wasn’t very good. On passing situations, we couldn’t get it off.”
Bryce Jones, Ge’air Hendrick and Jake Waddell are all fighting for time.
“It will be OL by committee,” Fleming said. “You may see different players series to series but we want to get the best 11 out there on third and fourth down.”
Fleming turned the defense over to Rodney Goodine.
It all starts with Hargrave, a 6-3, 240-pound defensive lineman.
“I think he’ll take up right where he left off,” Goodine said. “I expect big things. He’s a quiet kid who gets fired up when he get on the field.”
Archie and Reid join Hargrave.
“Garland was kinda overweight as a freshman but he trimmed down considerably and got a lot stronger,” Goodine said.
Reid is a 6-2, 240-pound talent.
“This is his senior year and he’s worked hard,” Goodine said. “He has really improved.”
Reid attended a camp at Wake Forest and Goodine says, “He can play on the next level.”
Meade and Sam Mauldin also can play on the defensive front.
Shropshire is the Cavs’ top linebacker.
“We’re going to try and give Vince a little rest because we have a little more depth,” Goodine said. “He is doing extremely well.”
Greg Melton and Darius Jackson are also linebackers. Cedric Donaldson can play both inside and outside linebackers. Terry Allen and Givens provide even more depth.
Darryl Jackson Jr. leads the way at defensive back. He attended several camps this summer and Goodine said that helped in his development.
“He sees the field better,” said Goodine. “He worked hard in the offseason.”
Rudisell is a cornerback and Mallett is a free safety. Eric Robertson will also be a safety.
Goodine said Laurens and Feezor are “big additions to the secondary. We saw great signs that they can be great players. They’ll have a big impact.”
Goodine sees a little bit of Jackson in freshman Malik Jones.
“He can be a top-notch DB,” Goodine said.
Senior Reggie Smyre will be in the mix, but he has been injured.
“This year, our strength is our linebackers,” Goodine said. “But the most improved group is our secondary. We were burned quite often last year. We couldn’t stop the pass. They worked hard in the offseason and are taking it more seriously this year.”
So are the rest of the Cavs, and that’s why Fleming says there is more optimism.
“We didn’t lose a lot,” Fleming said. “We’re older. And I guarantee you we’re a lot stronger.”
Follow the Cavaliers
Aug. 21 at East Rowan
Aug. 28 Carson
Sept. 4 Open
Sept. 11 at Lexington
Sept. 18 Salisbury
Sept. 25 South Stanly*
Oct. 2 at E. Montgomery*
Oct. 9 North Moore*
Oct. 16 at Albemarle*
Oct. 23 Chatham Central*
Oct. 30 at W. Montgomery*
Nov. 6 South Davidson*
Game time: 7:30 p.m.
*1A Yadkin Valley