Prep Football Notebook Week 7
From staff reports
South Rowan trampled North Iredell 63-0 last week.
One of the main reasons?
“We’re giving people fits at nose guard,” South coach Jason Rollins said.
The Raiders coach was talking about Zach Howell, who dominated the middle against North, helping hold the visitors to minus-14 yards rushing.
“Zach had a great game,” Rollins said. “For several weeks, we’ve had coaches comment on what he’s doing on the field. He was blowing that center and guard straight back.”
The 5-foot-11, 280-pound senior has gotten the chance this season after battling Kelsey Robinson for playing time in 2008, and Howell’s making the most of it.
“In the offseason, he worked his butt off,” Rollins said. “He’s a real humble kid. He never complains and never questions anything. He just goes out and does it. The transition from his freshman year to now has been great.”
People other than South’s coaches are noticing.
“Zach’s got people looking at him,” Rollins said, referring to college coaches. “He’s a monster.”
BOUNCE BACK: Rollins was glad to see South rebound from a 28-0 loss to West Rowan.
“After getting smacked in the mouth, especially from an offensive standpoint, we told them, ‘You’ve got something to prove. You’ve got to go out and smash somebody’s mouth,’ ” Rollins said. “And our kids came out with an attitude.”
HARRIS REPORT: No one seemed more focused than running back D’Andre Harris, who finished with 121 yards on just nine carries.
“He might have had one of his better games,” Rollins said. “He came out full of fire.”
Thomas Lowe gained 76 yards on six carries. Josh Suber made the most of his playing time, getting 85 yards on 11 tries.
B.J. FLINGS IT: South didn’t need Blake Houston to throw the ball in the rout. He was 2-for-3.
Receiver B.J. Grant was the passing leader, going 1-for-1 for 80 yards. He tossed a surprise bomb to Dylan Walker for the game’s first score.
Grant caught just one pass for 4 yards but didn’t seem to mind.
“He told me, ‘Coach it’s all right because I had more yards than Blake,’ ” Rollins chuckled. “I told Blake that B.J. took his job.”
SOUTH RADIO: With South off this week, WRNA 1140-AM will broadcast Carson at West Rowan.
BLOWOUT: South’s 63-0 victory was its biggest romp since a 70-0 rout of Mooresville in 1978 that established school records for most points scored and largest margin of victory.
North Rowan, which beat East Montgomery 40-12 on Friday, had its most dominant defensive effort and most productive rushing output in at least 15 years.
East Montgomery, which scored twice on defense, rushed for minus-55 yards and finished with minus-22 yards of total offense. North rushed for 347 yards.
“We made two mistakes and gave them 12 points,” North coach Tasker Fleming said. “The defense pitched a shutout, and the offense did some good things. Hopefully we can keep getting better in all areas.”
The stingiest defensive effort in recent memory came in 2006, when West Rowan held Carson to minus-52 yards rushing. The Cougars passed for only 3 yards in a 48-0 loss.
RUN WITH IT: The Cavs, long known for their passing prowess, have now rushed for at least 300 yards five times in the last 25 years.
They had 309 in a 2003 playoff loss to South Robeson ó Mark Sturgis ran for 196 and quarterback Sakelo Lilly accounted for 113.
The other games on that list: 326 vs. Central Davidson in 2001, 330 vs. Lexington in 2000 and 332 vs. Ledford in 1986. Darryl Jackson, whose son is a starting cornerback for the 2009 Cavs, and Rodney Miller had 100-yard games in that Ledford contest.
Last Friday, North almost had a trio of 100-yard rushers. Cameron Mallett had 100 on the dot, Malik Jones finished with 99 and Vince Shropshire ran for 95.
“We just try to spread it out,” Fleming said. “We don’t have Tony Dorsett, anyone they can key on. That’s a good thing.
“We’ve got a crew of about six who can run the ball, and we don’t call a play based on who’s out there. Just try to keep them fresh.”
North rushed for a total of 275 yards in its first four games, and it’s combined for 502 in a pair of YVC wins. Mallett praised the blocking from a group that included players such as Desmond Turner, Keith Reid, Garland Archie and Sam Mauldin (tight end).
The best single-game effort by a back in North history occurred in 1973, when Jimmy Heggins rushed for 254 yards against West Davidson. The Cavs had 303 yards on the ground as a team.
NEGATIVE APPROACH: An opponent has now rushed for negative yardage against North four times in the last 15 years.
West Stokes had minus-9 yards rushing and 15 yards passing in 2002. North Stanly had minus-3 yards rushing and 7 yards passing in 2000. Mount Pleasant had minus-1 yard rushing and 80 yards passing in 1995.
East Montgomery was credited with one team rush, and six different Eagles had carries against North. Only Chris Everett (10 rushes for 7 yards) finished with a positive total. He didn’t move out of negative territory until the final minute of the third quarter.
“You could take a defensive team picture with what we did Friday,” Fleming said. “In 25 years of coaching, I’ve never had an entire game where the offense was negative.”
Shropshire, Archie, Darryl Jackson, Javon Hargrave, Eric Robinson, Greg Melton, Darrius Jackson and Dominique Meade made stops behind the line of scrimmage for North.
LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN: North is 2-0 in conference play for the first time since 2005, when it started 5-0 in the CCC and shared the league title.
The offensive output against East Montgomery was the Cavs’ highest since a 51-0 shutout of South Rowan early in the 2006 season.
The West Rowan Experiment appears to be a success.
Armando Trujillo switched from guard to center, allowing all-state lineman Timmy Pangburn to move over to guard. Together with Rodney Cline, Pangburn is blowing open holes for K.P. Parks.
Trujillo was tested in a 32-0 win against West Iredell.
“He did real well for his first time out,” Young said.
A potential switch was discussed with Trujillo during a weightlifting class. Young and offensive line coach Joe Nixon started working with him.
“You have to re-train him, and he has to learn different assignments,” Young said. “It freed up Timmy to play hard and not think so much. It’s beneficial to our team.”
ANKLE UPDATE: Chris Smith is finally playing like, well, Chris Smith.
The defensive lineman’s ankle, which has bothered him for three weeks, is almost 100 percent.
Not that Smith missed time or didn’t perform well. The Arkansas commitment has been his usual terrifying self.
“It wasn’t bad enough to hold him out, but you could tell he couldn’t change directions like he normally does,” Young said.
TV STARS: The Falcons found television cameras waiting on them when they arrived at West Iredell. WMYT (Channel 55, MyTV12) covered the game and replayed it Sunday.
It’s a different experience for coaches to see their game on the tube.
“We’re used to watching game tape,” Young said, “so watching it on TV is a much slower process. You get good angles on some things and it’s nice to hear some commentary to go with it. Overall, it’s good exposure for our kids and our program.”
GOOD GAMES: Young cited defensive backs Domonique Noble, Trey Mashore and Eric Cowan for their play at West Iredell. Young was especially pleased with Cowan.
Out for several weeks with torn ankle ligaments, receiver Phillip Ajayi could return to action for the Mustangs’ game against West Rowan on Oct. 23.
MENDED: Linebacker Jordan Hopper, who was injured in the West Iredell game, was back on the field against Carson.
Hopper had also been handling long-snapper duties prior to his injury. Nathan Robbins filled in capably in that role the past two weeks.
“The snaps were a big concern ó you can lose a game there in a hurry ó but Robbins did the job,” East coach Brian Hinson said.
STRONG START: East is 6-1, matching the starts of Mustang squads in 1959 (9-1), 1968 (9-2), 1974 (7-3-1), 1997 (10-3) and 2007 (7-5) for the second-best in school history.
The best start after seven games was turned in by the 1969 team that went on to win all 13 outings and the WNCHSAA title.
East was 5-1-1 after seven games in 1970. That team won its opener on the field, but had to forfeit to South Rowan because of an ineligible player.
While West Rowan is the overwhelming favorite to win the NPC, East is tied for first and at least in the hunt for its first league championship since it shared the SPC crown with A.L. Brown and Concord in 1997. The 1997 Mustangs handed the state-champion Wonders their only loss that season.
FEELS GOOD: Hinson said the start has had a positive influence on the school and the student body, not just the football team.
“It’s a real positive environment,” he said. “Teachers are excited. It’s nice for the kids who don’t play football to be patting football players on the back and telling them they’re doing great instead of telling them how awful they are. Kids that I don’t even know are coming up to me in the halls and saying, “Nice job.”
KICKING IN: Hinson feels blessed with the kickers he’s had ó Kenny Barnes and now Andrew May and Taylor Owen.
“Good kickers has been a luxury for us every school doesn’t have,” Hinson said. “We’ve got a good relationship with (soccer coach) John McNeil, and he’s really worked with us.”
May is a senior, but Jantzen Stirewalt, another soccer player, is being groomed as his successor.
May said he and Owen usually get some kicking in before football practice. They normally have soccer matches on Mondays and Wednesdays so East does the bulk of its special-teams work on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
HOLDING HIS OWN: May has accounted for 31 points, a team-high that nips receiver Taylor Weber’s five TD receptions.
He gives a lot of credit to quarterback/holder Jamey Blalock, who does more than just put the ball down and turn the laces.
“I can see him moving the ball, getting the best angles for a kick,” May said. “For the PATs, you’re just looking for height to get over the blocks so he tilts it straight back. But on those long-distance kicks, it helps that he’s tilting the ball to the side.”
MAY DAY: May rolled an ankle in Monday’s soccer match but said he’ll be fine by Friday.
THE HORSE: Quentin Sifford, a 202-pound back, overpowered Carson late in Friday’s 29-26 win against the Cougars, pounding for East’s final two TDs.
“He ran hard in the fourth quarter and when he runs like that it’s a big lift for the team,” Hinson said.
BIG RECOVERY: East got a quick TD against Carson after the Cougars had to start from their own 10 after they were penalized on a kickoff and ever-present East linebacker Sam Edmonds recovered a fumble on Carson’s first snap.
“Basically, it was just a bad snap,” Edmonds said. “Then one of our defensive linemen kicked the ball right in my hands.”
Sifford scored the TD that proved decisive on the next play.
Coach Mark Woody and his staff were drained but proud after the 29-26 loss to East.
As much as the outcome hurt, it had to be the most exciting home game in Carson history. WSTP broadcasters Howard Platt and Wilson Cherry were almost jumping out of the pressbox.
While the Cougars (4-3, 1-1 NPC) have moved past the moral-victories stage, their rally from a 9-0 third-quarter deficit to take a 20-16 fourth-quarter lead against a team that is 6-1 was a positive and showed how far the program has come.
“It was a great football game,” Woody said. “Both teams made some mistakes, but ours were the more dramatic mistakes. Through it all, once we got settled down a little bit, our kids kept plugging and we had our chances to win it.”
BIG O: Carson had 452 yards of offense against East, a school record and the second straight week the Cougars have surpassed 400.
Zack Gragg’s 10 completions were one short of Ryan Jones’ school-record 11. Gragg’s 169 yards were the second-best passing game by a Carson QB. Gragg threw for 178 against Robinson.
Receiver Cody Clanton had another huge game and is the first Cougar to surpass 500 receiving yards in a season.
“Clanton’s really tough, better than we thought,” East’s Hinson said.
Zach Smith had a career game with four catches for 66 yards.
The Hornets were off last week and get back in action Friday in their CCC opener at West Davidson.
The question coach Joe Pinyan has been fielding: How’s John Knox’s ankle?
Salisbury’s junior quarterback barely played in a 10-7 loss to Davie two weeks ago, but expect him to be leading Salisbury’s wishbone offense from start to finish Friday.
“We think he’s 95 percent healthy,” Pinyan said. “We feel pretty good about it.”
COUNT ON ME: Pinyan made a point to mention safety Dominique Phillips, who had double-figure tackles two weeks ago against Davie. Pinyan said Phillips slipped his mind when talking about the game, and for good reason: it has become so commonplace for Phillips to shine.
“When Dominique has 15 tackles in a football game, we’re not surprised,” Pinyan said. “He’s a safety for a reason. He keeps things safe.”
Linares Pagan, Darien Rankin and Ike Whitaker are in the same boat.
“They might get overlooked because we depend on them to do that,” Pinyan said.
DOWN THE STRETCH: Coaches in this county will tell you they don’t consider Salisbury (3-3) a .500 team. The Hornets have played well against 3A and 4A teams.
“We played some games where we had chances,” Pinyan said. “It’s gotten us ready for a conference run.”
Pinyan would like to win five straight, but it will be tough.
“We feel our conference is as good as a lot of them,” he said. “Add Thomasville, and it makes it even better.
“Everything’s up for grabs. Everybody is undefeated. It ought to be fun to see who comes out on top.”
The stretch run begins tomorrow in Tyro. Pinyan doesn’t care that Dale Barnes’ Green Dragons are 2-4. They have become Salisbury’s nemesis over the past few years.
“Our kids and coaches see this as a big game because we’ve had a lot of trouble with West Davidson,” Pinyan said.
The War Eagles open their CPC schedule Friday as Reynolds visits for homecoming.
Davie is on a three-game winning streak, but Reynolds is 6-0 and ranked ninth in the state among 4A teams.
The Demons are the start of a stretch in which Davie will face Reynolds, West Forsyth and Mount Tabor.
“(They’re) no different than West Rowan, Page and Thomasville,” Davie coach Doug Illing said. “We’ve seen size and we’ve seen speed from all three of those. So Reynolds doesn’t seem like a super-power or anything like that to us because I think we’ve seen the best we’re going to see.”
ELLIS SIGHTING: One of RJR coach Mike Propst’s assistants is former North Rowan and Catawba quarterback Mitch Ellis.
RECRUIT: Safety Zach Long is making a name for himself.
Illing said Appalachian State, Elon, Coastal Carolina, Gardner-Webb and Lenoir-Rhyne are looking at him.
Long has 55 tackles, but that’s far from leading the team. Linebacker Jared Barber is averaging 13.6 per game.
The flu bug continues to hit the Wonders hard, although they’re in a stretch in the schedule where it probably won’t matter if half the team is medicated and bed-ridden.
“It was the offense that got hit last week and the defense this week,” coach Ron Massey said with a sigh.
Backs Travis Riley and Xavier Stanback and big offensive tackle Charles Mance were among the ill Wonders last week. This week, the flu has mostly struck the DB corps.
Brown will still be a 50-point favorite against Cox Mill.
DOING FINE: For years, Massey’s day to unwind and relax was Saturday. After the Wonders looked at tape in the morning, he’d hit the couch, turn on a football game and chill.
Now his Saturdays are mostly spent at Wake Forest, where his son, Zach, is a redshirt freshman. Zach, a tight end by trade, may end up as the long snapper for the Deacons down the road.
“Zach loves it at Wake,” Massey said with a smile. “But it’s wearing me out just a little bit. Wake’s been home a lot.”
Four of the last five Saturdays. This Saturday, the Deacons play host to Maryland.
ALSO DOING FINE: Assistant coach James Lott said his son, Jamill, last year’s QB, is adjusting well at Appalachian State.
Saturday’s stat sheet actually listed Lott as a nickel back who participated in Appalachian’s win against The Citadel, but James reported that’s not the case.
He said Jamill is still working at slot receiver and will likely redshirt this year. A broken finger set him back some, and the Mountaineers don’t want him to lose a year of eligibility.
Ronnie Gallagher, Mike London, Bret Strelow and Brian Pitts contributed to the notebook.