Prep Football Notebook: Week 2
From staff reports
South’s offensive line doesn’t include a sure-fire all-county pick or household name and is the unit still perceived as a potential weak link, even with a 2-0 start that included Friday’s 21-19 win against perennial power A.L. Brown.
It’s been an ideal situation for O-line coach Jarrod Smith. Bulletin-board material has been abundant as message boards have generally scoffed at a group that includes tackles Zack Beasley and Leo Pope, center Steve Erwin and guards Jeffrey “J.D.” Daniels and David Archie,
There’s also versatile Andrew Moody, who describes himself as the “man of many positions.” He played center, guard and tackle on the jayvees last season. An injury made has made Moody a temporary starting guard, and it’s making it tough on the coaches to take him out.
“When we had our two-platoon draft, I had to trade two guys for Moody,” Smith said.
Moody and his linemates have been easy to motivate. Beasley and Erwin may be undersized for their positions, but South rushed for 244 yards opening night against Salisbury.
“I told the guys no one was gonna believe in them or respect them until they earned it,” Smith said. “Then they handled Salisbury.”
The week following the Salisbury game brought joy to Smith’s face. More easy motivation. One message-board quote after another with nothing good at all to say about South’s O-line.
“Guys were putting in their ratings position by position, and giving the edge to Kannapolis’ O-line ó by a mile,” Smith said. “It really helped us that no one thought we could block Kannapolis.”
Head coach Jason Rollins said right tackle Leo Pope had a particularly strong game, and South rushed for 276 yards against a formidable defense.
There are still plenty of doubters. Smith wishes he could send each of them a thank-you note.
“Without stepping on anyone’s toes, this is the best line we’ve had since I’ve been here,” he said.
FAILED CONVERSION: On a night of key plays, A.L. Brown’s failure on a two-point conversion attempt with 8:41 remaining proved decisive.
Most expected Travis Riley, who had a 200-yard rushing night to get the ball, but South had shut down the three previous runs up the middle, and Brown coach Ron Massey opted for the element of surprise. The Wonders threw.
Rollins gave credit for thwarting the play to 30-year assistant Tim Corriher, who was on the roof.
“A guy’s been here 30 years, I’m gonna listen to him,” Rollins said. “Tim’s communicating with me, telling me they’re gonna fake it and roll, and we had to get someone out there.”
South safety Quan Glapsy got out there and disrupted the play, an attempted pass from Tyler Gilmore to Terrance Johnson in the flat.
PAT ON THE BACK: South offensive coordinator Steve London gave credit to staff newcomer Andrew Morgan, a former South QB, for making his job a lot easier.
“Andrew’s made a big difference,” he said. “With him here to work with the QBs, I can spend time with the lineman, the running backs or receivers.”
FLAGS ARE US: South made big plays against Brown, but played far from a perfect game. Besides three turnovers, the Raiders were penalized 17 times for 150 yards.
They did extra running to make amends for the penalties this week.
Rollins said Tuesday’s practice wasn’t great, but neither was Monday’s practice before the A.L. Brown game.
“They usually do something to make me blow a little hot each week, but overall I’m very proud of ’em,” Rollins said.
Rollins added that the win over Brown was huge, a win that every Raider who had ever played for him was a part of.”
H-MEN: QB Blake Houston was the obvious hero for South on Friday, but Zach Howell, Madison Hobbs and Justin Hall did their part with fumble recoveries. Hobbs recovered a fumble by Riley after a pass reception at the South 3.
West Rowan didn’t get a sack from any of its four starters on the defensive line during the 33-6 win over Northwest Cabarrus, but the Falcons allowed only seven completions in 25 pass attempts by the Trojans. Jeremy Cannon was intercepted three times.
Defensive back Trey Mashore, who nearly had a second-quarter pick, was one of West’s standouts.
“He had a fantastic game on defense,” West coach Scott Young said. “He made a couple good breaks on the ball and was there in run support as well.”
CENTER OF ATTENTION: West center Tim Pangburn, an All-State selection last season, is settling in at his latest position.
He was a left guard as a sophomore and left tackle as a junior.
“The adjustment time is to be expected, but he really improved from Week 1 to Week 2,” Young said.
KICK-STARTED: Jon Crucitti ó making his 2009 debut ó had six receptions for 99 yards with one touchdown, completed a pass for 10 yards, scrambled for a 13-yard gain and averaged 39.3 yards on three punts.
He had an unreturned 43-yard kick out of his own end zone late in the first half against Northwest.
“What a difference he makes,” Young said. “In the kicking game, the punts he got off, one from the very back of our end zone, one step and he got it out of there. You can’t take away how important he is to this team. It was a pretty big turning point in that game to keep them off the scoreboard at the end of the half.”
Riley Gallagher wasn’t sure he wanted to play football this season, and told coach Joe Pinyan just that.
“He said, ‘I’m a junior. John Knox is a junior. He’s a quarterback. I’m a quarterback. I’m never going to play,’ ” Pinyan said of their conversation.
Pinyan quickly informed Gallagher he was one snap from taking over at quarterback if an injury hit Knox.
“I told him, ‘You can be a backup (at QB) but you can be a starter somewhere else,’ ” Pinyan said.
“Somewhere else” turned out to be tight end and Gallagher has caught one pass in each game, both for scores, the latest coming in a 46-10 win against East Rowan.
“Riley gets overlooked about his blocking. He’s worked hard in the weight room,” Pinyan said.
RUNNING IT UP? Pinyan said he heard rumblings he was running up the score because he passed with the margin 31-3.
He thought that was pretty funny, considering the Hornets are a wishbone team that ran for 286 yards and completed only one pass, a 45-yard TD to Gallagher.
“If Salisbury’s passing,” Pinyan quipped, “we’re trying to keep the score down.”
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Linares Pagan, Dominique Phillips and Terrance McElrath had fumble recoveries against East.
Defensively, Pinyan said, “Pagan had his usual steady game, Phillips came up with a big interception at the goal and Ike Whitaker played both ways at nose guard and fullback.”
THANKS, SOUTH: Pinyan said his team came away with two victories on Friday ó the one against East and the one with South Rowan beating A.L. Brown.
South handed Pinyan a loss in the opener.
“When South beat Kannapolis, that was a positive,” Pinyan said. “We felt better about our loss to South.”
O-LINE: Salisbury’s offensive line played much better in Game 2.
“Ronald Phillips did a great job on their noseguard,” Pinyan said. “We’re tickled to death he had such a good game. Phillip Ledbetter had a stellar game and Sam Humble, a sophomore, started. Those three kinda stood out.”
The Cougars bounced back from a season-opening loss to beat North Rowan 32-0. They tallied in each quarter with Shaun Warren scoring three times.
Warren finished with 200 yards rushing and is averaging 170 per game.
When asked how Warren got those yards, coach Mark Woody said, “We balanced it out. We went inside and outside.”
With a smile, Woody added, “He’s just good. That’s really what it comes down to.”
MAKING THE SWITCH: Coaches are praising Kaleb Denton, who has gone from not starting on the defensive line to being a fixture on the offensive line.
He’s doing really well,” Woody said.
“He’s gone from not starting on defense to playing every down on offense,” assistant Brian Billings said. “He’s picked it up real quick.”
NEWCOMER: Cornerback Derrick Sewell, who has been known more for basketball, picked off a pass against North.
“He’s playing very well,” said Woody. “The thing I noticed that is exciting is seeing his aggressiveness.”
ON THE ROAD: Carson plays its game Friday at Salisbury, the third straight road game to start the season.
“People complain about it,” Woody said. “But I don’t care. If you’re going to be good, you’ve got to beat ’em somewhere, somehow. It doesn’t matter.”
ZACH ATTACK: Carson is a rushing team and proved it with 280 yards against North.
Zach Gragg took over at quarterback and came away with a 73-yard passing performance.
Coach Brian Hinson wanted improvement in his offensive line play, and despite a 46-10 loss to Salisbury, he got it. Hinson especially praised the play of Greysen Gordy and Nathan Robbins. They helped open holes for East to rush for 194 yards, 111 by junior Chris Moore.
“They played much better,” Hinson said. “Their grades prove it. Their knockdowns prove it. Our yards rushing proves it.”
The offensive line will be tested this week when Glen Padgett’s Concord team visits Granite Quarry.
“Concord has three defensive linemen who are all like 5-11, 230,” Hinson reported.
WE’VE GOT MOORE: Moore was a fullback last year but has run efficiently at tailback.
“I knew he could be effective in our offense,” Hinson said. “It was a career night for Chris. He made some good cutbacks. He has improved tremendously.”
A STEP BACK: Hinson said the offense improved from Week 1 and the special teams improved.
But after dominating against North Rowan in Game 1, East’s defensive line took a “step back” in Hinson’s opinion.
“The kids didn’t tackle,” he said. “The defense didn’t make adjustments.”
Hinson did praise the play of junior defensive back Evan Hiatt for the second straight week.
INJURY REPORT: Junior outside linebacker Taylor Lester is out for six weeks with a broken bone in his hand.
“He didn’t know how it happened,” Hinson said.
Quentin Sifford just returned from knee surgery and will be one of the Mustangs taking over.
It’s an unbelievable stat for this school, but the Cavaliers have 7 yards passing in two games. North’s passing game used to be called “The Airport.”
It has been grounded.
Against Carson, North was 1-for-17 with four picks.
OPEN: North Rowan is off this week but gets back in action Sept. 11 at Lexington.
South coaches knew A.L. Brown running back Travis Riley was good, they just didn’t know how good.
Riley rushed for 203 yards, including 153 on 12 second-half carries.
In the second half, he broke runs of 42, 41 and 35 yards.
“Leave a door open for that guy,” veteran assistant Tim Corriher said, “and he’s gone.”
Rollins also had praise for Riley.
“He’s tough to handle and he impressed me as a high-character kid,” he said. “The only bad thing about Riley is he’s a junior, and we’ll be looking at him again next year.”
Xs AND Os: South dominated the first half against the Wonders and should have been up more than 14-7 at the break.
Rollins said South didn’t make a lot of adjustments at halftime ó why change when everything was working on both sides of the ball ó but Brown coaches figured some things out, and the Wonders took charge in the second half, and South couldn’t do a lot offensively after it scored its final points of the game on a run by D’Andre Harris with 9:18 left in the third quarter.
SAFETY? It certainly looked like it when Brown linebacker Terrance Johnson wrapped up South halfback Thomas Lowe in the end zone and Lowe tossed the ball forward to the ground late in the third quarter.
Wonder fans wanted either a safety for the tackle or a safety for an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone.
The ball was spotted back at the original line of scrimmage at the 4, and South coaches breathed a sigh of relief.
“Maybe we got a break, but were due for one to go our way,” Rollins said. A lot of balls didn’t bounce our way over the years.”
THEY’RE BACK: Martel Campbell, who suffered a concussion in the opener against Statesville and missed the South game, is expected to play quarterback when Brown visits Thomasville on Friday for the first time in decades.
Big O-lineman Matt Griffin missed the South game (concussion) but is expected to return Friday.
The War Eagles are an uncharacteristic 0-2 and will not be favored at West Rowan on Friday.
But coach Doug Illing thinks there are better days ahead.
“It’s going to work out,” he said after a 34-14 loss to Page. “We’re going to have to do a good job coaching and not let them lose their spirit. The purpose in getting this kind of schedule is to learn how to play these kind of teams and stand toe-to-toe with them.”
Davie is 0-2 for the first time since 2002.
STOPS: Linebacker Jared Barber is supposed to be one of the Central Piedmont Conference’s top linebackers. He proved it against Page, making 16 tackles.
Zach Long was in on 15 stops, 10 solo. Long also picked off Davie’s first pass of the season.
Barber already has 40 tackles while Long has 24. Matt Speer has recorded 17 in two games.
NO PASSING ZONE: Davie has had quarterbacks in the past who would connect on 13 passes in a half. The War Eagles have just 13 completions in two games.
Ronnie Gallagher, Mike London, Bret Strelow and Brian Pitts contributed to the notebook.