Friday Night Hero: Salisbury's John Knox

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 9, 2009

By Ronnie Gallagher
John Knox was preparing to punt on fourth down against Carson last Friday when he received explicit orders from coach Joe Pinyan.
“We were up 35-6,” Pinyan noted, “so I wanted him to kick it out of bounds. I didn’t want any returns that might turn the tide of the game.”
Knox asked if he could run to the side and rugby-kick the football. Pinyan said OK, but when Knox started the play, there were no Cougars in front of him. So he just ran for a first down.
“So now, it looks like we faked a punt,” Pinyan said. “I wanted to wring his neck.”
But with a shake of the head, a sigh and a smile, Pinyan said, “It was just one of those nights for John Knox.”
It sure was.
Knox had one of those games to remember in Salisbury’s 50-6 rout of Carson in a game most thought would be a tight contest.
The junior completed three passes for 111 yards and two scores. He rushed 13 times for 137 yards, including a 55-yard scamper in which he juked and faked out practically everyone in Ludwig Stadium.
Even his incompletions were spectacular.
“He threw one to Dominique Phillips that was one of the best throws I’ve seen,” Pinyan said. “He launched the ball probably 60-65 yards.”
Knox started as a freshman and has become the prototypical wishbone quarterback. He can run, throw and make the right calls.
It makes quarterback coach Chip Pickard smile. A former star wishbone QB himself at Mooresville, Pickard knows he is coaching a special kid.
“John made a lot of smart decisions,” Pickard said of Friday’s win. “There were a lot of checks he had to make. On an option play, the coaches don’t even know who’s getting the ball. He’s the coach on the field.”
Knox accepts that role.
“I’ve got three years of varsity experience, so there’s a lot on me,” Knox said.
And he knew his role as soon as Salisbury dropped the opener to South Rowan.
“The first game, some of the guys were nervous,” he said. “But we settled down, and we’re playing the game the way we know we can. I gotta keep encouraging ’em, like Ibn Ali did for me.”
Pickard and Pinyan say Knox hasn’t reached his full potential yet, which is a scary thought if you watched him make mincemeat out of the defense on Friday.
“The thing with John is he’s never satisfied with where he’s at,” Pickard said. “He’s always asking questions and wanting to get better.”
Pickard might be a little jealous of Knox’s passing.
“The most I ever threw in a game was 10, 12 times,” Pickard said. “He beat that last year against Lexington, so he kids me about that.
“Everybody knows we’re a wishbone running team, but if we do throw the ball, we expect him to make the most of the opportunity.”
Whether he’s throwing a 72-yard TD to Alex Weant or running for scores himself or simply making the right read to free speed merchant Romar Morris, it seems Knox is the right man for the wishbone.
“John has done such a good job progressing as a high school quarterback,” Pinyan said. “I really think he can play for some option football team on Saturday one day.”