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Gallagher column: South Rowan focused on finishing

Roaming the county getting ready for tonight …The South Rowan Raiders ó all Raiders, varsity and jayvee alike, 100 strong ó just sat there watching film of the play over and over.
And over.
There were no emotions, really. Just stonefaced football players being reminded of the worst loss in the school’s 48-year history.
It should still be fresh on everyone’s mind. It happened only a year ago.
It’s a painful memory, but here goes.
With South leading 20-17 in front of the home fans, West Iredell lined up for a field goal on the game’s last play.
The ball was snapped, and the kicker swung his right leg.
Mark Weycker’s team had two things going against it. One, it was a sloppy, slippery wet, mucky field. Two, an aggressive South defense poured through the line and blocked the attempt.
What happened next is why coach Jason Rollins had the play running in the locker room throughout practice this week.
While several Raiders jumped for joy, a certain victory in hand, holder Garrett Blohm picked up the rolling ball and threw a touchdown pass, stunning South 24-20.
Rollins was like everyone else in Donnell Stadium.
“Dazed,” he said. “I was shocked. Our kids were shocked. I told them, ‘I’m not sure what to tell you.’ ”

That film was quickly filed away.
“I watched it that night,” Rollins said. “I watched the game over the weekend and graded that film. I put it away and never looked at it again.
“Until just now.”
And he wanted to make sure his players watched it again. Not the entire game. Not West Iredell’s last drive.
Just the last play.
He hooked it up in the locker room this week because South is traveling to West Iredell tonight.
“We showed it 30 minutes before practice,” Rollins said. “When they came back in, it was still running.”
Rollins wanted to remind his players they have to finish the deal.
“You start looking at the people on the field and the things they did,” Rollins said. “It’s not over until the whistle blows. We kinda reiterated that a whole lot.”
Of the players celebrating prematurely, Rollins said, “I could probably name six of them. A couple of kids (at practice this week) were on that field that night. They came running to the sidelines as soon as it was blocked. If they had stayed back. …”

Rollins remembers going home that night and getting an apology from, of all people, his wife.
“She kept saying how sorry she was,” Rollins said with a smile. “I kept telling her it wasn’t her fault.”
He knew where the blame lay.
“It was our fault,” he said. “It wasn’t anything that anyone else did. We didn’t finish.”
And he has grinded that into the head of every person wearing red. By his voice, and, more importantly, by his film, running the same outlandish play over and over.
And over.
“Deep down in their hearts, they know something bad happened,” Rollins said. “All 100 are sitting there looking at the screen. There’s no laughter. No cutting up.
“Just watching.”
And remembering what can happen if you don’t finish the play.

Expect the 5-2 Raiders to finish tonight. They play one of seven games involving area teams.
Homecoming games are scheduled at Salisbury (against Central Davidson) and at Carson (against North Iredell).
Also at home is West Rowan, which faces Statesville.
North Rowan is 3-4, but it goes to powerful Albemarle for a first-place showdown in the YVC. Both teams are 3-0 in the 1A league.
A.L. Brown, which looks unbeatable in the 3A SPC, is making a trip to Mount Pleasant. Davie County is going across the Yadkin River to face 7-0 West Forsyth, the second straight week the War Eagles have met a ranked, unbeaten squad.

On the air tonight …
– On the WSTP Platt-form, Hall of Famer Howard Platt and sidekick Wilson “Don’t Call Me Wild” Cherry will broadcast Salisbury’s game on 1490-AM.
– WSAT 1280-AM will have Mark, Johnny and the boys giving us their weekly updates and radio cut-ins of all the games.
– Carl Ford, the Commissioner of high school football, and The Coach, Bob Parker, will be at West Iredell for South’s pumped-up Raiders on WRNA 1140-AM.
It should be the first cold Friday of the season. So bundle up if you need to and go to a game, folks. And be nice.

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