Prep Football Notebook: Week 5
From staff reports
Salisbury’s wishbone offense was going over plays Monday, using several different quarterbacks. Starter John Knox was not one of them.
He was sitting off to the side with his left ankle in a bucket of ice, nursing an injury suffered in the 51-12 win against North Rowan on Friday.
Coach Joe Pinyan said Knox is questionable for Friday’s home game against Davie County.
“Right now, it’s questionable, but hopefully I’ll get to play Friday,” Knox said.
Knox said the injury occurred on a run for a first down.
“I remember getting hit and hearing something just crack,” Knox said. “When I got up, I fell back down.”
Pinyan said Knox is day to day. If he doesn’t play, linebacker Linares Pagan will probably take over.
How can a linebacker make the transition to quarterback?
“You need to ask Davie,” Pinyan laughed. “They’ve got a linebacker playing quarterback.”
He was referring to Jacob Barber, a sturdy, Tim Tebow-like signal caller who has led the War Eagles to two straight victories after an 0-3 start.
“I told the kids, ‘Don’t expect (Barber) to dodge you,’ ” Pinyan said. ” ‘He’s going to lower his head and run over you.’ ”
Knox said if he doesn’t play, he’ll coach Pagan.
“Whatever he needs help on, I can help him,” Knox said. “He’s got the mentality that he can go out there and do it.”
WORRIED? NO. Pinyan was asked if he was concerned when North Rowan, scoreless coming in, was within 16-12 in the first quarter.
“We didn’t panic,” he said. “We felt we were going to score 30, 40 points so 12 points didn’t have us scared.”
In fact, Pinyan was surprised it took North so long to get on the scoreboard.
“We feel they have capabilities to put some points on the board,” he said. “We felt they should’ve scored against East Rowan (a 7-0 Cavalier loss in the season opener).”
OFFENSE: Knox won the team award for offense after throwing for 156 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for one score.
“He had a couple of touchdown passes called back,” Pinyan said. “And he was hobbled the whole second half.”
DEFENSE: Pagan and Kiontae Rankin were defensive players of the week.
“I asked if Pagan had won it before and a coach said, ‘No. That’s just the kind of game he turns in every week,’ ” Pinyan said.
UPS AND DOWNS: When Ike Whitaker got sick Friday and missed much of the game, Pinyan turned to Tyler Downs to do the long-snapping. Downs, a 5-foot-11, 165-pound junior, won the Hornets’ weekly special teams award.
“Tyler did a great job in an emergency situation,” Pinyan said. “He’s a unique kid. We only have him two-to-three days a week. He goes to cross country practice and then to football practice. He’s a real good student, too.”
Senior running back D’Andre Harris went over 2,000 career yards for South in a 51-6 rout of Central Cabarrus.
Harris is the 25th Rowan back to reach that milestone in the modern era.
South now has a pair of 2,000-yard backs. Thomas Lowe bumped his career total to 2,680 rushing yards on Friday. He is tied for 13th with the late Nathanial Hyde, the workhorse who was instrumental in North’s run to the 3A championship game in 1992.
For the season, Lowe has 506 rushing yards and Harris has 361.
WILDCAT: On its first offensive play Friday, South employed its version of the “Wildcat” formation, with Harris taking the snap and quarterback Blake Houston drifting out as a receiver.
Harris ran over roughly a half-dozen Central tacklers, but a flag for illegal participation brought the play back. South had 12 men on the field. The formation looked like so much fun that apparently everyone wanted to join in.
NO JOKE: South’s kicking game has struggled at times over the years, but PATs have been pretty automatic this season. Jacob Jester was 7-for-7 on Friday.
STEADY: South isn’t rushing for monster numbers, but it’s been producing solid ground performances every week and has topped 200 yards in four of five games.
South’s only loss came when it was held to a season-low 186 yards rushing by Northwest Cabarrus.
South’s high was 276 against A.L. Brown.
CONNECTION: B.J. Grant caught a TD pass from Houston on Friday, a 29-yard completion that bumped South’s lead to 23-6.
It was Grant’s 17th career visit to the end zone. It was Houston’s 26th TD pass.
Houston has gotten good protection and has thrown seven TD passes this season while being picked off only once.
SUBARU: Backup running back Josh Suber has been productive in limited duty.
He had his standard five carries for 30 yards Friday and got into the end zone for the first time.
COMEBACK: Linebacker John Davis’ return to football after a year off has been a success.
He seems to making a bigger impact each week. He recovered two fumbles Friday.
IS IT BROKE? Referees were amazed at the length of time required to play the first half against Central Cabarrus and asked Rollins if he was sure everything was in working order.
“I told them the scoreboard was fine, but Central was throwing a lot of incomplete passes,” Rollins said.
Central also ran almost every play to the sideline ó screens, reverses and rollouts trying to get to the edge. A lot of guys ran out of bounds and stopped the clock.
There were also way more than the standard number of flags in the first half with 18 accepted penalties.
The half took forever.
Fortunately, a running clock in the fourth quarter helped gets fans home at a reasonable hour.
BIG P: South punter Preston Penninger had quite a night against Central Cabarrus.
His first punt went 50 yards and was downed on the Central 2-yard line. His only other punt was a solid 40-yarder.
In the fourth quarter, Penninger played on the defensive line and made a fumble recovery.
West Rowan played its most complete game of the season in a 48-9 victory at Mooresville.
West fumbled the opening kickoff, and a field goal gave the Blue Devils a 3-0 lead. They didn’t score again until the final two minutes.
Mooresville has switched to a spread offense under first-year coach Steve McCurry.
“The whole week coming up with the spread offense, it was tough for us,” West defensive end Chris Smith said. “Our whole D-line, we had a good week of preparation. We just had to get stops, had to get our swagger back.”
LINE OF DUTY: West’s defense recorded five sacks ó Smith had one and combined with Eli Goodson for two others ó and the Falcons limited Marshaun Edwards to 30 yards on 13 carries.
Smith credited defensive coordinator David Hunt and line coach Stevie Williams for teaching proper technique against the spread.
“Everybody has to do a job, and when everybody does their job, it clicks well,” Smith said.
Smith, Goodson, Mackel Gaither and Emmanuel Gbunblee ó West’s starting defensive linemen ó were all factors. Maurice Warren, a sophomore, contributed a sack.
The Falcons followed a 39-36 win against Davie County with a 14-7 triumph at Salisbury. The Hornets scored on their first offensive play and were shut out the rest of the way.
“As a coaching staff we messed them up a little bit when we were defending Davie County and tried to change some things,” West head coach Scott Young said. “We just made some minor adjustments with the way the defensive front plays and let everybody else do what we always do. We felt that was going to be a beneficial change, and I think it worked.”
RETURNING TO FORM: West quarterback B.J. Sherrill tossed two interceptions in the low-scoring affair with Salisbury, but he went 8-of-9 passing for 166 yards against Mooresville. Three throws resulted in touchdowns.
“He was ready to take it on his shoulders,” Young said. “He bounced back. The performance he had, he played well. Great job.
“We’d love to throw it 15 times a game on our terms, but you get a big lead, you stop throwing the football.”
KICK QUESTIONS: Mishandling the opening kickoff was just the first miscue on special teams. Sky kicks to Mooresville’s return unit following touchdowns often sailed out of bounds.
“One big correction, we’ve got to improve in the kicking game,” Young said. “We got beat in the kicking game pretty soundly.”
West freshman Bertin Suarez, also a soccer player, did convert six PATs in seven tries ó one was blocked.
The Falcons failed on five extra-point kicks in their first three games, and Suarez is 8-for-9 in the last two contests.
“Watching the soccer team practice, we had a couple soccer kids come over and try to kick the football, and he did really well,” Young said. “Before it’s all said and done, he could be pretty solid.”
East Rowan coach Brian Hinson said Jeffrey Haltom showed glimpses of being a good player last season.
In a 30-6 win against Cox Mill, Haltom proved he had arrived.
Haltom, a 5-8, 245-pound senior, finished with six tackles from his nose guard spot. Three were for losses.
“He was our defensive player of the week,” Hinson said. “He played really well. He dedicated himself in the offseason.”
OFFENSE: Hinson praised tailback Chris Moore, who had his second 100-yard rushing game of the season.
NICE PLACE: The Mustangs got their first look at a brand new school in Cox Mill, located in northwest Cabarrus County.
“The facilities are really nice,” Hinson said. “They have a good setup out there. “They just need to work on the field. It’s in bad shape. I’m just glad we came out injury-free, to be honest with you.”
STATEMENT GAME? East has won three straight and stands 4-1, but this week’s home game against West Iredell in an NPC opener will tell Hinson a lot about his team.
Hinson remembers a headline in the Post two years ago saying, “They’re for real” describing his Mustangs.
“A lot of people have those question marks about us right now,” Hinson said. “We’re telling our kids this is a statement game. They’re excited.”
Hinson went on to say last season’s 1-10 campaign is still with him.
“After last year ó the nightmare that it was ó every game is a statement game for us,” he said. “We’re just happy to have four wins right now.”
The Cougars’ 42-12 victory against Robinson was impressive ó and so was the defense played by junior Jacorian Brown.
Brown is usually a running back, but with defensive ends Ryan Shoaf and Joseph Basinger out, Brown was moved to end.
“I think he may have found a home,” assistant coach Travis Billings said.
Brown didn’t start working at the position until three days before the game, but he created havoc all night long.
“Jacorian is one of those players who can make plays if you turn him loose,” Billings said. “I’m not sure you don’t turn him loose more often than not. He’s a heck of an athlete.”
Shoaf was out due to a concussion, and Basinger was getting his knee scoped.
LONG TIME: Brown was able to avoid double duty because of Clifford Long, who ran six times for 30 yards and blocked well for leading rusher Shaun Warren, who finished with 166 yards.
“What we were real fortunate with was the play of Clifford,” Billings said. “He stepped up and carried out the duties at fullback.”
MORE DEFENSE: One of the biggest plays against Robinson was the hit linebacker Zach White and defensive lineman Micah Honeycutt put on quarterback Robert Cloninger, knocking him out with an ankle injury.
Honeycutt put the finishing touches on him.
“Coaches told us to keep rushing the quarterback,” Honeycutt said. “They said, ‘He’ll step up in the pocket and come up to you.’ ”
Did Honeycutt know he had sent Cloninger to the sidelines for good?
“I didn’t at the time,” he said. “I just thought he pulled something. I thought he’d be back.”
Billings said it was the best team effort of the season.
“We played pretty good,” Honeycutt said. “We’ve just got to keep doing it.”
PERFECT BLOCKING: Offensive line coach Brian Billings said all five linemen and the tight end graded out for the first time in school history.
Justice Schenck, Kaleb Denton, Tyler Christy, Colt Ballard, Mitchell Galloway and Dylan Eagle were cited for their good games.
“It’s a lot less of a headache watching the film,” Billings said with a smile.
SCHOOL RECORD: It took Cody Clanton only five games to break the school record for receiving yardage in a season.
Clanton has 16 catches for 400 yards and four TDs.
Travis Hayes’ 397 yards in 2007 was the previous mark.
Sam Starks’ 92-yard kickoff return in a 51-12 loss to Salisbury was the first kickoff return TD for the Cavaliers since Lathan Charleston broke one in 2006.
Charleston’s victim also was Salisbury.
Starks is known for his speed. At the 2A state track meet earlier this year, he finished third in the 110-meter hurdles as a sophomore.
AWAY NOT HOME: North is at South Stanly, not at home as orginally announced.
A.L. Brown used some trickery in its 56-28 victory against Kings Mountain.
On fourth-and-5 at the Kings Mountain 27-yard line, running back Travis Riley took a handoff left and gave the ball to receiver Tyler Gilmore, who had filled in at quarterback after Martel Campbell was hurt in the first game of the season.
Gilmore came back across the field and threw to Campbell along the right sideline for a 20-yard gain. Riley scored his second touchdown of the game on the next play.
“It was just a good opportunity for us,” A.L. Brown coach Ron Massey said. “If it works, it’s a great play. If it doesn’t work, you’re stupid. We just executed. Tyler made a great throw out there to Martel, and we were able to get the first down.”
NOT SO SPECIAL: Massey was understandably upset with the Wonders’ special teams, which allowed an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter and another long return to set up a score at the end of the opening half.
“We didn’t make it easy on ourselves,” Massey said. “Mentally we did a terrible job. We can’t let teams get pumped back up.”
DEFLECTING PRAISE: Massey didn’t want to say much about winning his 100th game as A.L. Brown’s coach.
“I’m happy for our kids,” he said. “They’re the ones that deserve all the credit, and our coaching staff. I’ve never won a football game.”
Sports fans in Rowan County thought at one time that Matt Cusack would develop into a great wrestler.
Then he moved to Davie, where he has developed into not only a standout wrestler but also a game-winning kicker.
Cusack’s 47-yarder beat Thomasville 17-15 on Friday. It gave Davie (2-3) a two-game winning streak.
“I had made a couple of 47 yarders before (in practice), but nothing was like the feeling of being out there,” Cusack said. “For my first field goal, I’m pretty happy about it. You’ve got to block (the distance) out of your mind. You can’t think about stuff like that.”
Cusack was only 3 yards from the school record. David Wooldridge hit a 50-yarder in 2000.
STREAK OVER: Receiver Joe Watson’s streak of 16 games with a catch ended.
FRIDAY’S GAME: Salisbury’s Pinyan has certainly noticed how much better Davie is playing. His 2A Hornets play host to the 4A War Eagles on Friday at Ludwig Stadium. Game time is 7:30.
“Davie is a bomb waiting to explode,” Pinyan said earlier in the week.
Ronnie Gallagher, Mike London, Bret Strelow, Paul Hershey and Brian Pitts contributed to the notebook.