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Gallagher column: Coaches stayed cool under pressure

Roaming the county getting ready for tonight …Sometimes you wonder how coaches keep it together on the sidelines and not go nuts when the seconds are ticking off the clock in an intense, close game.
Catawba coach Chip Hester has been there, noting, “You’ve got 11 guys on the field. You’ve got substitutions that have to happen. Someone’s gotta be watching to make sure if you have two guys going in, you’ve got two going out.”
Hester smiled and said, “It can get crazy.”
Two Rowan County coaches experienced just that Friday night. Each played for a field goal as the clock wound down. Only about seven miles apart, at about the same time, East Rowan’s Brian Hinson and Salisbury’s Joe Pinyan were involved in “crazy” games.

At East, the Mustangs were tied with West Iredell at 14-all and were driving with under a minute left.
As they moved closer to the end zone, Hinson was thinking about Hickory Ridge.
Hickory Ridge?
Hinson explained that his kicker, Andrew May, had a chance to ice that game but missed a field goal from the right hash mark even though he had told Hinson he wanted the ball on the right hash.
As the clock went under 60 seconds, Hinson was already calculating where to position the ball.
“I wanted to make dead certain it was in the middle of the field,” Hinson said. “I also wanted to get a little closer.”

At Salisbury, the Hornets’ offense, which hadn’t done much all night against Davie County, was driving.
Down 10-7, Salisbury moved deep into War Eagle territory when the drive stalled.
Fourth down. It would be a 37-yard boot. Like Hinson, Pinyan was thinking about his kicker, too.
“We felt good about kicking it because Paul Kollie’s got a strong enough leg,” Pinyan said.
But what about the sheer pressure of the moment?
“I was probably hesitant in making a decision,” Pinyan said. “That’s a lot of pressure for a kid who hasn’t done a lot of kicking.”

Back at East, things were getting crazy.
The Mustangs called a play with 30 seconds left and the clock didn’t start. So the officials ran off 10 seconds. While everyone was yelling about the clock-keeper, Hinson motioned for the refs, knowing he had a timeout left.
Hinson told them, “I want a timeout with one second left.”
He ran Quentin Sifford, who got to the 9, giving May an opportunity from 26 yards out.
On the right hash.
Gulp.
“That was kind of a nervous feeling when I saw it on the right hash,” admitted Hinson, who got his timeout.

Back at Salisbury, Pinyan, a veteran of more than two decades, decided this was a good time to get everyone organized for a field-goal attempt.
“I wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page,” Pinyan said. “We went over everything and made sure everybody knew what they were doing.”
Then Davie called timeout.
“Kollie goes over and starts kicking in the net,” Pinyan said. “It didn’t affect him.”

But what about May, who was watching East’s last drive unfold.
Linebacker Tyler Bumgarner said he had a talk with May on the sidelines.
“He said it would be a lot easier on him if we just went ahead and scored,” Bumgarner recalled. “I was like, ‘You do it every day in practice. You make field goals. It’s that simple. Go out and kick the ball.’ ”
West Iredell coach Mark Weycker wasn’t happy that one second officially remained even after the clock ran out following Sifford’s run. Weycker thought regulation should have ended. But the referees told Weycker the timeout signal had been made.
“I thought we handled clock management pretty well,” Hinson said.
Did he confer with May?
“I didn’t even talk to him,” Hinson said. “I went all the way down to the end of the coaching box.”

On Lincolnton Road, Pinyan watched Kollie line up to kick what could be the tying points against a tough 4A foe. The ball was snapped. Kollie kicked.
Right into the long arms of defensive lineman Justin Miller, who ended Salisbury’s chances with a block.
“Somehow, they slipped through off to the left,” Pinyan sighed. “They got a little bit of a push and the kid made a great play.”

Meanwhile, Hinson reminded himself that even though May had missed at Hickory Ridge, East still won. Hinson wanted to win this one, too.
May made sure he did. He swung his leg and the ball soared through the uprights for East’s fourth straight win, setting off pandemonium.
“After he made his field goal, everybody was loving him up, which is the way it should be,” Hinson said with a smile. “Kickers are head cases, we all know that. But you gotta have ’em, and we love ’em.”
He then gave May the game ball.

Hinson kept it together at the end when the clock was running, Weycker was questioning and the crowd was roaring.
“You’ve got to stay calm,” Hinson said. “It’s our job. If we go spastic and out of control, the kids will, too. It’s a leadership thing. ”
And after the game?
“I don’t know that we showed much leadership,” he laughed. “We were out there celebrating like little kids ourselves.”

Will East celebrate tonight at Carson? That’s the premier game on the schedule.
South Rowan and A.L. Brown should roll at home. Unbeaten West Rowan goes to Weycker and West Iredell, and North Rowan tries to make it two in a row at East Montgomery. Davie’s off.

On the air tonight …
– WSTP 1490-AM, starring Hall of Famer Howard Platt and Wilson “Don’t call me Wild” Cherry will be at Carson.
– On WSAT 1280-AM, Mark, Johnny and the boys will have their updates and radio cut-ins.
– On WRNA 1140-AM, Carl Ford, the Commissioner of high school football, and The Coach, Bob Parker, will bring us South football.
Go to a game, tonight, folks. And be nice.

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