Prep football: Notebook Week 13
From staff reports
Havelock, East Rowan’s second-round playoff foe, ran its record to 11-1 with a 40-14 win against Southern Guilford on Monday.
After the game, running back Andretti George told the Sun Journal in New Bern, “We have to get back to work and get ready for Friday night. We have got to go hard. We can’t take anyone lightly.”
Especially East Rowan.
With East coming off a 1-10 season, teams that didn’t take the Mustangs seriously usually lost. That’s why East is sky-high, enjoying every moment of a 9-3 season.
“I’m excited for the seniors,” East coach Brian Hinson said. “They’ve earned this.”
If East can keep it close going into the fourth quarter, anything’s possible.
“So many of our games have come down to fourth-quarter plays,” Hinson said. “The players are used to the pressure. They’re mentally and physically tough.”
East proved it again with a 14-11 overtime win against South Brunswick. Chris Moore rushed in from 9 yards out for the winning TD.
“It’s never good to have a short week of practice, especially against a team like East Rowan,” Rams coach Jim Bob Bryant told the Sun Journal.
PICTURE THIS: A photo in the Post on Saturday showed Moore leaping into the arms of running backs coach Sean Rinehart.
“You saw who had the best vertical,” Hinson joked. “Coach Rinehart didn’t get up in the air very much.”
COMING THROUGH: One of the big plays in East’s win was a forced fumble by freshman defensive lineman Cory Crump and a recovery by fellow freshman Justin Kerr.
The 6-foot-1 Crump weighs 230 pounds.
“Cory’s a big boy,” Hinson said. “He brings a little excitement when he gets on the field. All the kids enjoy watching Cory play.”
Hinson has brought several freshmen up for the playoffs, and it only helps toward next season.
“They’re getting extra work in, which will make them better,” Hinson said.
SCARY RAMS: Before Havelock played Monday, Hinson praised junior quarterback Danny Webster, who lived up to the hype against Southern Guilford by going 15-of-16 passing. He ran for 89 yards.
George ran for 120 yards, and William Griffith scored three touchdowns. The Rams finished with 405 yards on the ground.
Hinson called Webster, who also doubles as a free safety, a Division I player.
“He reminds me of (former East star) Ben DeCelle or (current West Rowan star) Jon Crucitti,” Hinson said. “They’ve also got an offensive lineman who has committed to South Carolina.”
What really impressed Hinson was that Havelock has completed passes to 14 different receivers.
WOUNDED KNEE: Webster did strain his knee Monday and came out with the Rams leading 33-14.
LOCAL TIE: Havelock’s Bryant was on the Shrine Bowl staff along with Salisbury’s Joe Pinyan two years ago.
BUS RIDE: Hinson said East will leave before 10 a.m. on Friday, and the ride will probably take five hours. A couple of stops, a walk-through practice and a meal are scheduled.
As far as the long trip, Hinson said he remembers his high school days at 1A East Montgomery.
“People at North Rowan were upset about driving to Murphy last week,” Hinson said. “But my high school drove to Murphy and Swain County almost every year.
“The kids like it. It’s a new experience for them, a new atmosphere, and they’re going to a place they’ve never been.”
It’s true that West Rowan running back K.P. Parks makes life easier for a quarterback, but junior B.J. Sherrill is putting up impressive numbers.
Sherrill has 33 TD passes the past two seasons, including 18 this year. He threw three TDs in the first round of the playoffs.
QUALITY QB: Freedom sophomore quarterback Mike Helms, the son of coach Mike Helms, acquitted himself well in a 48-15 loss to West Rowan on Friday.
Helms’ 155 passing yards were the second-best total against West this year, and Freedom’s 15 points were the second-highest total the stingy Falcons have permitted.
Davie scored 36 points and had 190 passing yards.
MO SWING: Freedom actually scored nine consecutive points against West, getting a TD late in the first quarter and tacking on a field goal early in the second to pull within 27-9.
“What we learned is we can’t let off teams even with a lead,” West offensive lineman Timmy Pangburn said. “Not in the playoffs.”
It was the first time since Davie jumped on West 14-0 in Week 3 that a team had put up back-to-back scores against the Falcons.
CLOSING IN: West’s Crucitti, a senior, is likely to break East great John Yarbrough’s record for receiving yards in a season. Crucitti’s six catches for 96 yards against Freedom gave him 1,041 yards for the season.
Yarbrough’s record of 1,117 yards was set during East’s 13-0 run 40 years ago.
RUMBLING AND GBUNBLING: Defensive lineman Emmanuel Gbunblee produced two big plays against Freedom.
He led the charge on West’s only sack of the night and also throttled a running play for a loss of 8 yards.
TURNOVERS: For the second time this season, West defensive back Eric Cowan had an interception and a fumble recovery in the same game.
Cowan is the only Falcon to accomplish that feat this year. He also did it against Northwest Cabarrus.
SHARING THE LOAD: Kendall Hosch and Will Holloway are thriving while splitting time at West’s drop-end position, with the starting role on a given night depending on whether the opponent is perceived as a passing or running team.
R-S Central, Friday’s foe, is a running team, so Holloway will probably get the starting nod.
Carson beat Ledford 14-13 on Friday in its first-ever playoff game and earned permanent bragging rights over county rivals.
West, East, South, North and Salisbury all lost their postseason debuts.
ODD ALIGNMENT: Ledford blocked a punt late in the first half and quickly got its first score off a play run with a gimmick formation.
Carson assistant Barry Mitchem, who used to coach Ledford rival West Davidson, had seen it before. He said the Panthers call it “Little Thing.”
Carson assistant Travis Billings had also seen the formation before, but none of the Cougars on the field had.
“Micah Honeycutt tried to call a timeout, but Ledford got the play off and they got us with it for a touchdown,” Billings said.
Billings said “Little Thing” can only work once.
“Once the defense recognizes it and knows how to line up, it’s a dead play,” he said.
RUNNING GAME: Carson’s career rushing leader Shaun Warren hurt an ankle early, but emergency running back Jacorian Brown and fullback Clifford Long combined for 139 rushing yards.
“We had guys blocking pretty good,” O-line coach Brian Billings said. “Our goal was 12 first downs, and we got 12 even with Shaun out.”
Warren is expected to be in action this Friday when Carson travels to Raleigh to play No. 1 seed Cardinal Gibbons.
“We expect a physical, hard-fought game,” Travis Billings. “They have some big offensive linemen.”
MILESTONE: Cody Clanton has enjoyed a historic season as a receiver and is becoming a factor in county history as well as Carson’s.
Clanton needs 48 yards to become only the sixth player in county history to amass 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Crucitti went over the 1,000-mark last week.
Yarbrough accomplished the feat twice (1969-70). Others are West’s Chavis Cowan (1994), East’s Nick Heard (1997) and North’s Bryson Gaymon (2006).
Salisbury’s Pinyan got a little nostalgic when talking about the Hornets’ second-round playoff matchup at Shelby.
“Used to be, you had to go through the three S’s ó Statesville, Shelby and Salisbury,” he said.
Salisbury and Shelby are already rivals this year. Salisbury beat Shelby on its way to a 2A tennis title. Shelby beat Salisbury’s soccer team Monday in a playoff match.
This will be the tiebreaker.
“Every sport we’re good at, they’re good at,” Pinyan said. “We have the same type of makeup.”
STAYING BUSY: Pinyan didn’t have much time to enjoy the 35-6 win against East Burke. He spent all day Saturday getting the field ready for a playoff soccer match with East Lincoln.
GOOD PROBLEM: All four Salisbury running backs ó Romar Morris, Ike Whitaker, Dejoun Jones and Dominique Dismuke ó had good games against East Burke.
How do you keep them all happy?
“That’s a really, really good problem to have,” Pinyan said.
East Burke tried to take Morris away to the right, so Salisbury found something it liked to the left. Pinyan also kept rotating the backs, even moving Morris out to wide receiver.
“You go in thinking it’s going to be a 21-20 game, but when everything falls into place, it makes it more relaxing on the sidelines.” Pinyan said.
TURNOVERS: Pinyan read on message boards that Salisbury wasn’t as good as the final score because East Burke fumbled four times.
“Those turnovers were because we caused them,” Pinyan said.
PLAYERS OF WEEK: Pinyan had trouble deciding on a defensive player of the week.
“No one was overwhelming because no one had any stats,” he said.
East Burke ran just 13 plays in the first half.
“I could make our offense the defensive player of the week,” Pinyan joked.
Offensive players of the week were lineman Phillip Ledbetter and tight end Riley Gallagher. And Pinyan couldn’t leave out quarterback John Knox, whose 27-yard weaving, spinning run was one of the prettiest of the year. He finished with 87 yards on the ground.
“I guess they thought, ‘Don’t take the quarterback, let’s take away the pitch and the fullback,’ ” Pinyan said. “They didn’t take away Ike. He had almost 100 yards. I don’t know if I’d take John Knox away.”
Of his elusive TD run, Pinyan said, “John’s a basketball player. He knows how to move and get away from people. It’s like being a point guard. You make sure you get the ball to the right place so the scorers can score. It just so happened he was the scorer.”
DALE TD: Whitaker was so close to the goal line on one run that it appeared he had scored even though he lost the ball. But it was actually ruled a fumble, and lineman Stephen Dale fell on the ball in the end zone for his first career touchdown.
“If Dale had to run it in from the 1, he might not have made it,” Pinyan said with a laugh.
South Rowan, which lost its playoff opener to R-S Central, broke school records for points in a season (427) and season scoring average (35.6) as well as points in a game (76).
Defensively, South allowed 17.3 points a game, its best statistical showing since 2001, when it gave up an average of 16.3.
INDIVIDUAL MARKS: Senior quarterback Blake Houston, a three-year starter, broke school records for career total offense (4,188 yards) and career passing yards (2,973).
Senior wideout B.J. Grant, also a three-year starter, finished his career second in school history in receptions (84) and receiving yards (1,402). He had 17 TD catches in his career.
Senior running back Thomas Lowe rushed for 136 yards in his final game and finished the season with 1,292. He played 28 varsity games in his career and ranks fifth all-time in county history with 3,471 yards.
Led by Javon Hargrave’s eight fumble recoveries, the most recorded in Rowan County in the last four decades, North Rowan posted its best league record (5-2) since 2005, when it shared the conference title.
PLAYOFF DROUGHT: North lost at Murphy 34-6 on Friday and hasn’t advanced past the second round of the playoffs since 2001.
The Cavaliers have dropped seven of their last nine playoff games.
The program is 15-21 all-time in postseason games, with four of those victories coming during a run to the 3A state championship game in 1992.
When A.L. Brown beat SPC rival Robinson 30-14 on Friday night, the win lifted the Wonders to 18-1 in their last 19 first-round playoff games.
Brown has won 14 straight first-rounders since it lost 35-34 to Kernersville Glenn in 1993. Current coach Ron Massey is 10-0 in the first round.
HALL OF FAME: Coaching legends Bruce Hardin and Pete Stout were inducted into the NCHSAA Hall of Fame during ceremonies conducted at halftime of the North Carolina-Miami game Saturday.
Stout was 83-20-10 in his 10 high school seasons in Salisbury, with two WNCHSAA crowns, plus a co-championship.
Hardin was 121-24 in 11 seasons at A.L. Brown, including two 3A championships and a runner-up finish.
Stout said he and Hardin had crossed paths several times before Saturday, mostly when Stout was the head coach at Catawba recruiting Hardin’s players.
MILESTONE: A.L. Brown junior Travis Riley needs 136 rushing yards for 2,000 for the season.
Nick Maddox was the last Wonder to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. Maddox had 2,241 in the 1998 regular season and added 328 in three playoff games.