Gallagher column: This 1A thing is working out nicely
Well, whaddaya know? This 1A experiment is working out quite nicely for North Rowan, thank you very much.
No one knew exactly what to expect when the Cavaliers were sent packing to outskirts unknownó namely the Yadkin Valley Conference. They were winless on the field last season, they were playing schools 80 miles away … I mean, why would the NCHSAA do this to our team?
Would the Cavs ever be heard from again?
You better believe it.
Leaving the Central Carolina Conference, a 2A league, due to low enrollment numbers was thought to be a negative. But 1A suits North Rowan. Coach Tasker Fleming made it clear in the preseason. Watch what North does against teams with similar enrollments.
Fleming sounds like a genius, now. Going into tonight, North Rowan has beaten every 1A team it has faced except Albemarle. The Bulldogs are ranked second in the state in that classification, and no one in the YVC has played the Bulldogs better than North. A 21-6 loss made people in the county perk up.
More importantly, the Cavalier players have perked up. North is 4-1 in the league, good for second, with an important clash at West Montgomery looming tonight.
“The whole attitude’s changed,” tight end Sam Mauldin said. “Used to be, boys came to practice being lazy and not wanting to do anything. Now they come and they want to play. Winning breeds winning.”
It’s good to see smiles on the faces of players like all-county stud Vince Shropshire.
“Now, we’re on top,” Shropshire said. “For me, it’s mostly mental. Since we’re 1A, we expect to win.”
Mauldin has been surprised by the lack of numbers and size in 1A.
“We were playing teams with 40-50 kids; 1A schools have only 22 or 24, so it’s even,” he said. “They’re like us. They have kids going both ways.”
And the players?
“The size is a lot different,” Mauldin said. “I was going against linemen weighing 240, 260. Now, I’m going against kids half my size sometimes. I’m going against boys who should be safeties or linebackers and they’re on the line.”
Quarterbacks coach Bobby Myers got an e-mail earlier this week telling him that one poll had North ranked 25th in 1A. After watching freshman quarterback T.J. Allen play well against Chatham Central, he’s as excited as anyone.
“If we can get better in the passing game, we can make some noise in the 1A playoffs,” Myers said. “Our running game is good at times. But it’s tough with some of the teams lining up seven or eight in the box. We’ve got to answer that by throwing the football.”
Defense isn’t a problem.
“Our defense is playing championship-type football,” Myers said. “We’ve had our leaders step up. I don’t think the seniors want it to end.”
While the North-West Montgomery game isn’t for first, Salisbury’s clash at Thomasville will probably decide the CCC champion.
Salisbury is hitting on all cylinders right now, especially after a 57-6 shellacking of Lexington last week.
“I don’t think Lexington wants to hear this, but I think we can play better,” coach Joe Pinyan said.
I asked Pinyan if his team was peaking.
“I don’t want to peak until December,” he said.
Playing in Cushwa Stadium can be a daunting task. But Pinyan said his team is looking forward to it.
“They like playing on the big stage,” he said.
“I don’t know if we go into the game as a decided underdog or a decided favorite,” Pinyan said. “It’s one of those games where both teams are equal. I think it will be a great defensive battle. The final score might be 3-2. That would be interesting, wouldn’t it?”
If Carson wants to finish with the first winning record in school history, the 5-5 Cougars must beat West Iredell tonight at home.
South should have no trouble at home against Statesville, and East should have no trouble at North Iredell. (Jason Rollins and Brian Hinson are going to kill me for writing that).
West Rowan has a bye before ending the regular season next week at North Iredell.
The Battle of Kannapolis takes place tonight as A.L. Brown visits Northwest Cabarrus. Davie should get its first Central Piedmont 4A win at home against Reagan.
On the air tonight …
* The WSTP Plattform will have Hall of Famer Howard Platt and sidekick Wilson “Don’t call me Wild” Cherry traveling to Thomasville for Salisbury’s first-place showdown on 1490-AM.
– On WSAT 1280-AM, Mark, Johnny and the boys will bring us their weekly dose of updates and radio cut-ins of all the games.
– On WRNA 1140-AM, Carl Ford, the Commissioner of High School Football, and The Coach, Bob Parker, will be at South Rowan.
Go to a game tonight, folks. And be nice.
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