Gallagher column: Carson's Super Six
Roaming the county getting ready for tonight …Carson is in the playoffs for the first time in its four-year history with a 6-5 record, and coach Mark Woody points to six seniors who have toughed it out through two 0-11 seasons and a 3-8 mark last year.
The names will always be with Woody: defensive backs Zack Grkman and Jenson Harden, linebacker Zach White and offensive linemen Colton Ballard, Tyler Christy and Justice Schenck.
“I used to not be very emotional,” Woody said as the Cougars prepare for their first-ever playoff game at Ledford. “But you look at some of the things we’ve been through. I don’t know if it will hit the kids for 20, 30 years what they experienced.”
Woody’s right. There’s not many people who will go down a similar path.
“Think about it,” Woody said. “There are roughly 400 schools in North Carolina, and they don’t open every year. Only a handful will know what they went through. Those kids will be special to me for a long time.”
History just seems to follow Woody and Carson. It is also part of Rowan County history. This is the first time that every school in the county has made the playoffs.
It will also be an historic night for the Post. Seven of our eight teams made the playoffs, and five are at home: West, South, East, Salisbury and A.L. Brown. Each home game will be photographed.
Only Carson and North Rowan are on the road. The Post will have writers at both games.
Think North had some long road trips in the Yadkin Valley Conference? Its first-round 1AA West game is as West as you can go: at Murphy.
“We definitely have a goal of getting past the first round,” North coach Tasker Fleming said. “We’re not just happy to get on a bus and ride to Murphy. That’s not the point of a 5-2 conference record. Hopefully the seniors want to play a few more football games.”
Neighbors Morganton Freedom and East Burke both visit Rowan County this week, with 3A Freedom going up against West Rowan and 2AA East Burke playing at Salisbury.
They could just come together and share the pre-game meal.
Freedom will have a good game plan because of its coach: Mike Helms.
Helms was the long-time coach at Northwest Cabarrus, and his teams gave West some of its toughest contests.
“He knows us,” West coach Scott Young said. “He’ll be able to give his players a really good scouting report. In my opinion, it gives them an advantage.”
Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan’s head was spinning as the NCHSAA released its pairings last Saturday.
First, Salisbury was playing Piedmont. But the NCHSAA had the Piedmont-Berry result wrong, so it switched Salisbury to playing Berry.
“Then,” Pinyan exhaled, “they moved West Stanly from the West to the East and West Stokes from the East to the West.”
That bumped everybody down a seed, and East Burke is now set to invade Ludwig Stadium.
“It is what it is,” Pinyan said with a shrug.
Emails come in from dissatisfied fans everywhere when the playoffs begin.
Here’s one a South Davidson teacher sent me when he saw the Wildcats were slated to go to the mountain outpost of Robbinsville:
“The kids were excited about making the playoffs but disheartened about the 4-hour drive to Robbinsville. North Rowan is probably feeling the same thing as they have to go to Murphy.
“Here’s another bit of trouble: to rent a charter bus, it will cost our school about $2,000, and then they will miss class almost all day Friday. The school will then have to feed the kids lunch and dinner. Thats more costs!
“Does the state not understand that we are in a budget crisis? We would have been better off not making the playoffs. We will lose money in this deal, and the state will make money at our expense.
“Oh and how about the poor kids at North Duplin who have to travel 8-9 hours to Cherokee. That’s beyond ridiculous. It’s absurd, and if I were the AD at North Duplin, I would refuse to go. They say the state will fine you $500 if you forfeit; they might find it a lot cheaper.”
That’s probably what South Brunswick is saying. With East Rowan stuck in the East bracket, South Brunswick is making quite a drive to Granite Quarry.
On the air tonight …
– On the WSTP Platt-form, Hall-of-Famer Howard Platt and sidekick Wilson Cherry will call the Salisbury-East Burke game on 1490-AM.
– Mark, Johnny and the boys will bring us all the updates and radio cut-ins on WSAT 1280-AM.
– Carl Ford, the Commissioner of high school football, and The Coach, Bob Parker, will bring us the R.S. Central-South game.
Go to a game tonight, folks. And be nice.
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