Gallagher column: A big night in Rowan County
Roaming the county getting ready for tonight …We’ve waited nine weeks, but this will be the most exciting Friday night of the season:
n West Rowan at East Rowan.
n Carson at South Rowan.
The big question is if there will be more fans in Landis or Granite Quarry. I’d put these four schools up against anyone in the state as far as support.
The athletic directors know it, too. I told South AD Danny Crosby recently that his school has to have one of the most loyal fan bases in the state.
“In the country,” he said without hesitation.
I kinda laughed until I realized he was serious. In his mind, people wearing red have many other schools outside this county green with envy.
Watch the football show on WBTV on Friday nights. It will have film of Charlotte games, and there is practically zilch in the bleachers. It’s the same for a lot of the rural schools.
But those cameras come to Rowan County, and there appears to be standing room only.
WBTV will be at East. If West wins, it will clinch at least a tie for its sixth straight North Piedmont Conference title with only last-place North Iredell left on the regular-season schedule.
Carson is getting there. The first three years of its existence, fans turned out because of loyalty and curiosity. This year, they’re filling the place because of wins. The Cougars are 5-4, and the coaching staff thinks they should be 7-3.
“We got beat by West pretty bad and Salisbury pretty bad,” Carson coach Mark Woody said. “But they are two pretty dadgum good teams.”
West beat Carson 69-14, and Salisbury stunned the Cougars 50-6. The other two losses came in the opener to Hickory Ridge (a 25-13 result that took two days to complete because of lightning) and 29-26 to East.
We know West will contend for a second straight state title. But Woody said not to count out the Hornets in 2A.
“I think Salisbury is going to make a run at a state championship,” Woody said. “I really do.”
The dynamics at Carson are different now. There are kids who have been there for four years. People have stopped saying, “Well, we’re really from South (or East or West) and we’re being forced to come here.” Now these people are finally Carson blue and orange through and through.
“The community has changed,” Woody said. “Our school environment has changed. They’re starting to get a taste of winning, and you’re reaching that point where good things are happening.”
West, East and South are in the playoffs. Carson has five wins, so last week’s 41-7 victory over North Iredell should be enough to secure the Cougars’ first-ever playoff spot.
“I’d like to think that,” Woody said, “but we’ve learned around here nothing’s easy.”
Woody said he’d like to win his final two games and head into the playoffs with a three-game winning streak and seven wins.
“That would be huge for us,” he said. “The kids are hungry for it.”
But to get to seven, Carson must win against a very talented South team tonight.
“I think our school will be more excited this week than last week,” Woody said. “There will be a big crowd over there.”
Of course it will. South has one of the most loyal fan bases in the state. Excuse me. I mean in the country.
North Rowan should win tonight at home. The Cavs, second in the Yadkin Valley Conference, take on hapless 1A foe Chatham Central.
Salisbury is playing mighty well right now and heads to the Barbecue City to face Lexington.
Davie County travels to Mount Tabor.
There is a first-place showdown in the South Piedmont 3A as A.L. Brown plays host to Hickory Ridge. Both are 4-0 in the league.
On the air tonight …
n On the WSTP Platt-form, Hall of Famer Howard Platt and sidekick Wilson “Don’t call me Wild” Cherry will call the West-East matchup on 1490-AM.
– On WSAT 1280-AM, Mark, Johnny and the boys will give us their usual dose of updates and radio cut-ins.
– On WRNA 1140-AM, Carl Ford, the Commissioner of high school football, and The Coach, Bob Parker, will call the Carson-South game.
Go to a game tonight, folks. And be nice.