Prep Football Notebook: Week 14
From staff reports
West Rowan shut down the running game of R-S Central in Friday’s 38-0 victory in the second round of the 3A playoffs and recorded its fourth shutout of the season.
It was the first playoff shutout for West in 21 years. In 1988, the Falcons subdued South Iredell 14-0 in the first round.
West has reached the third round for the fourth time in school history, all in the last decade. The Falcons also reached this point in 2000, 2005 and, of course, 2008.
CHALK BRACKET: West Rowan’s 3A West bracket is one of only two (the other is the 1A West) where all of the top four seeds advanced to the third round.
The Final Four are all ranked in the top 10 in 3A in the last Associated Press poll.
Top-ranked West, Hibriten (tied for second), fourth-ranked Asheville and seventh-ranked Tuscola have combined for just one loss.
That’s right ó one.
Tuscola lost to Polk County on Aug. 21 and tied Asheville. Other than that, there’s been nothing but wins for this foursome.
KICKING GAME: West had a productive night on special teams against R-S Central.
The Falcons turned a 14-0 lead into 28-0 the last three minutes of the first half to end any hope the Hilltoppers had of pulling an upset. A key play was a partially blocked punt by the Hilltoppers that traveled 5 yards.
“Our tall guy got a hand on that ball,” said defensive coordinator David Hunt with a laugh.
Hunt was referring to mighty mite Trey Mashore, a 5-foot-7 safety.
UNSUNG: Jamarian Mabry contributed some strong hits for the Falcons on kickoff coverage.
AUTOMATIC: Bertin Suarez didn’t begin the year as West’s regular kicker, but he’s become just about automatic on PATs. He’s booted 60 of them and leads county kickers in scoring.
West isn’t often limited to a field-goal attempt, but Suarez had a chance to tack on three points on Friday and knocked through a 22-yarder with 4:18 remaining in the game to close the scoring. It was his second field goal and first since the West Iredell game in early October.
Suarez’s kick wasn’t a run-it-up gesture by the Falcons. They wanted to make sure they could execute on a cold-weather field goal.
They may need another one ó or two ó before this season ends.
CLASS IN SESSION: West backup QB Tyler Mullis took a knee inside the R-S Central 5 to end the game.
West’s subs obviously would have liked to have put another one in the end zone, but there was no point in pouring it on the beaten Hilltoppers.
PARKS ROLLS: Tailback K.P. Parks became the first 3,000-yard rusher in county history on Friday, piling up 244 yards on 20 carries to lift his season total to 3,152.
Parks has rushed for 100-plus yards in 15 straight games and for 200 or more in his last seven.
He’s now No. 1 in state history with 10,253 rushing yards and third all-time nationally, according to MaxPreps’ Dave Krider.
Parks is 980 yards away from breaking the national mark set by Texas legend Ken Hall in 1953. He probably won’t get there, not with undefeated Asheville on the menu tomorrow night.
Unbeaten Hibriten or Tuscola, which tied Asheville, looms in the regional championship game if the Falcons advance past Friday.
If West survives the regional title game, the state championship game would be next. That’s three games maximum left for Parks.
“K.P. could have 12,000 yards or more very easily,” West coach Scott Young said. “We’ve left a lot of yards out there taking him out of games so early.”
Parks, individually, has outrushed every opposing team this season. Parks’ lowest production was 167 yards against South Rowan. The West defense has permitted more than 100 only three times.
Parks has needed to go the distance only three times, as West consistently has knocked people out early.
The Falcons, who own 27 straight wins, haven’t prevailed by fewer than four touchdowns since their 14-7 escape at Salisbury in September.
DOUBLE TIME: West receiver Jon Crucitti had his quietest night of the season with four catches for 37 yards as the Falcons put the ball in the air only twice in the second half.
Tight end Patrick Hampton made the big receiving plays, doubling his season TD total with scoring catches of 5 and 27 yards.
20/20 VISION: West QB B.J. Sherrill was a force in the first half when the Falcons were still throwing. He was 8-for-10, and the TD passes to Hampton were his 19th and 20th of the season.
THE U: That ‘U’ sign the Falcons are constantly making with their hands?
University of Mount Ulla.
Blame ó or credit ó Crucitti, depending on what you think of it.
NOSE FOR THE BALL: West DB Eric Cowan picked off a pass Friday and now has come up with eight turnovers ó four interceptions and four fumble recoveries.
GOOD BACKUPS: West nose Eli Goodson, arguably the dominant defensive player in the county and the NPC, went down in the first quarter with an ankle injury.
Justin Teeter and Maurice Warren, who batted down a pass, shared snaps as Goodson’s replacement.
“When your bellcow goes down, some other kids have to come through,” Hunt said.
Goodson’s sprain was low on his ankle, and as Hunt said, “low is always better than high.”
Parks had to fight through a high ankle sprain for weeks during last season’s playoffs, but Goodson is expected to be OK to play against Asheville, which will bring two Shrine Bowlers to Mount Ulla, tomorrow.
MILESTONE WIN: Young, now in his 12th season, is 116-37 at West after Friday’s win. He passed Roger Secreast for fourth place all-time as far as football coaching wins in Rowan County.
Young could move past Hall of Famers Larry Thomason (125-69-3) and the late Bill Ludwig (129-67-11) in 2010.
That would leave only Hall of Famer S.W. Lancaster (183-50-15) with more wins than Young. Lancaster coached J.C. Price High, Salisbury’s black school in the days of segregation, for 29 seasons and part of another.
LUCKY 13: West is the first team in the county since the 1969 East Rowan squad to reel off 13 straight wins without a loss.
East finished 13-0 and as WNCHSAA champions.
West’s quest for perfection will require 16 wins.
The rushing totals are in for Salisbury from its first two 2AA playoff games.
And they’re eye-popping.
The Hornets’ wishbone is definitely clicking, running for a whopping 790 yards. Salisbury sprinted for 397 in a 35-6 win at home against East Burke and added 393 on the road against Shelby in a 34-26 victory last Friday.
“We just find the kid with the hot hand,” coach Joe Pinyan said.
There have been plenty of hot hands and quick feet heading into a third-round game at Pisgah on Friday.
Against Shelby, quarterback John Knox ran 15 times for 119 yards. Fullback Ike Whitaker bulled through the line 13 times for 111 yards. Halfback Dominique Dismuke ran 11 times for 124 yards.
Halfback Romar Morris, who had 146 yards against East Burke, managed only 39 against Shelby.
“If I had known Romar was short, I’d have given him a couple more tries,” Pinyan said with a laugh.
FORT KNOX: Each week, Knox seems to pick up a few more fans.
Against Shelby, he wowed the home crowd and coach Chris Norman.
“Chris said he really liked what he saw in the quarterback,” Pinyan said.
Especially on a 51-yard scoring scamper in the third quarter, when Knox eluded several Golden Lions and bowled over a few more.
“It’s equivalent to some of the other runs John’s made, but this one was on the big stage,” Pinyan said. “A run like that, people on the other side are pulling for you.”
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Knox was the team’s offensive player of the week.
Safety Dominique Phillips won the defensive award.
“He had a ton of tackles,” Pinyan said.
Whitaker won the special teams award.
COMPLIMENT: Norman showed his class by calling Pinyan and congratulating him on the win.
“Coach Norman said, ‘I’m not trying to be cocky, but to come down here and win a game in Shelby against us is a big win,’ ” Pinyan said.
“It was two old, very good traditions playing in a game of that magnitude that wasn’t decided until the last minute. It was a heckuva game.”
GOOD D: Pinyan praised his defense, even though the Hornets allowed 26 points.
“Six points came on a blocked punt, so that wasn’t on them,” he pointed out. “Shelby also had to settle for two field goals. If the defense doesn’t play well down there, we’re in trouble.”
BIG PLAY: Pinyan said perhaps the biggest play of the game wasn’t mentioned afterward by most fans.
Salisbury was leading 34-20 when Shelby scored on a long pass with under a minute left.
Darien Rankin blocked the extra point.
That block created a different scenario for Shelby as it lined up for an onside kick.
“Not only do they have to recover the onside kick and score a touchdown with 50 seconds left and no timeouts, but they’re going to have to go for two,” Pinyan explained. “I wasn’t resting comfortably, but I liked our odds a little better. That play swung momentum a little.”
BEFORE PISGAH: A ritual for Pinyan before a third-round game is to practice Wednesday morning and feed the team turkey afterward. Central Carolina Insurance helped with themeals.
Pinyan also guided Salisbury teams to the third round in 2004 and 2006. The Hornets lost to Forest Hills in 2006 and to Bandys in 2004.
ON TO PISGAH: Salisbury heads to Pisgah on Friday night. The Bears are the same team that ousted the Hornets in the first round last season.
Salisbury is leaving around noon for Canton on two charter buses.
“I want the community to know how much we appreciate getting the buses,” Pinyan said.
Carson came up just short in its second-round playoff game at top-seeded Cardinal Gibbons, which used two fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull out a 21-15 victory.
Gibbons coach Michael Sheehan expected a tough game.
“As soon as we saw the film, we were impressed,” Sheehan said. “Those kids come right at you. For a newer school, it’s one of the most impressive things I’ve seen. They’re one of the toughest teams I’ve seen in my eight years at Gibbons.”
Carson, which opened in 2006, didn’t win a game in its first two years. It went 3-8 last season and finished 7-6 in 2009.
Talented skill players Zack Gragg (quarterback), Shaun Warren (running back) and Cody Clanton (receiver) are all juniors.
“We built a lot of barriers and went over a lot of them, took a lot of triumphs,” Gragg said. “We’ll be back next year.”
PRO APPROACH: With a little more than four minutes left and Gibbons holding a six-point lead, the Crusaders faced a fourth-and-1 from their own 35 thanks to a third-down stop by Carson linebacker Chris Barnhardt.
Gibbons quarterback Doug Burton gained 2 yards on a sneak, and the Crusaders finally punted with 2:26 remaining.
“I promised myself when I got this job I was going to be a little bit of a gambler,” Sheehan said. “There comes a time when you have to go for it. I know Bill Belichick got a lot of heat for it, but at that point in time, you have to go for it. A little bit of heartburn and indigestion was kicking up.”
The Crusaders got off their final kick with no problems.
Two long snaps already had sailed over the head of 6-foot-6 punter Andrew Shafer, also a standout tight end. Shafer handled the snapping duties for the final punt, and Burton’s only kick of the night went 37 yards to the Carson 20.
BEST OPTION: Carson led 15-6 until Burton broke loose for a 62-yard touchdown on an option keeper early in the final quarter.
Burton sprinted right, cut back across the field and went down the left sideline.
Carson’s defense forced five punts in the first half and was dominant for three quarters.
“We were playing our regular base defense; they run what we run,” defensive lineman Micah Honeycutt said. “They confused us with the option, and that got us.”
A.L. Brown quarterback Martel Campbell produced his best game of the season at just the right time and the Wonders thumped Asheville Erwin 45-27 in a game that some experts considered a tossup.
Brown jumped out 21-0.
Campbell, a junior, hit the daily double. He rushed for a season-high 94 yards while throwing for a season-high 141. The Campbell that Erwin ran into had to be a lot different than the Campbell the Warriors had seen on film, and his transformation probably made the difference in the game.
Campbell had not thrown a TD pass since the Central Cabarrus game on Oct. 2, but he hit tight end Spencer Falls for the game’s first score and found Travis Riley for a 40-yard TD in the third quarter.
DROUGHT ENDS: Falls had his first TD catch since the South Rowan game in August.
UP IN THE AIR: There are report Riley may not play against South Point after apparently sustaining a concussion.
He is 77 rushing yards short of 2,000 for the season.
GROUND JORDAN: Fullback Antwoine Jordan also came through on Friday, with Erwin concentrating on containing Riley.
Jordan produced 109 yards on 17 carries, his first 100-yard effort since the Central game.
REDBONE: South Point brings its vaunted Redbone option offense to Memorial Stadium on Friday.
South Point has outscored opponents 406-201. Its losses were to Clover, S.C., and 21-20 to Gastonia Forestview, a loss it avenged in the second round.
The Redbone isn’t unstoppable, as West Rowan proved last season. The Falcons out-physicaled South Point, shut down all three phases of the option and destroyed the Red Raiders 35-7 in Mount Ulla in the fourth round. West outrushed South Point 229-125, even with Parks hobbling on a gimpy ankle, and didn’t allow a pass completion.
Wonder coaches will likely study the tape of that struggle in Mount Ulla closely as they prepare for a South Point ground machine spearheaded by the dive man ó fullback Aaron Crumbley.
GOOD RECORD: Massey is 18-9 in playoff games as Brown’s coach.
He has the Wonders in the third round for the fifth time in his 10 seasons. Brown also reached this point in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2008. The Wonders reached the fourth round in 2005 and the 3AA title game in 2008.
Brown and South Point met in a memorable second-round playoff game in Ron Massey’s first year as the Wonders’ coach. South Point beat the Wonders 38-31 in two overtimes in Belmont.
SOLID: Brenden Brown booted his fifth goal of the season against Erwin and upped his PAT total to 59.
Junior quarterback Jamey Blalock had 99 yards rushing in a 27-7 loss at Havelock and finished with 836 for the season. That has to be a record for East QBs and definitely ranks high in county history.
AMAZING: East was 9-4 this season despite allowing more points than it scored, and there’s no chance that’s ever happened previously.
East was outscored 256-251 by foes, mostly because of a 46-10 thumping by Salisbury and a 41-7 mashing by West Rowan.
East won six times by a touchdown or less, which is why Brian Hinson has to be included in any Coach of the Year conversation.
Even with West undefeated, North bouncing back, South matching East’s nine wins, Carson having its best season and Salisbury rolling into the third round, Hinson is a great candidate for postseason honors.
THE Q: Junior Quentin Sifford produced his second 100-yard rushing game against Havelock. He finished with 803 yards despite missing the first two games of the season with an injury.
GOOD EFFORT: East didn’t have outstanding defensive stats this season, but it gave quite a performance against Havelock, holding the explosive Rams scoreless in the first half.
There are people who believe Havelock will emerge from the 3A East bracket, although Hertford County is still unbeaten.
AP has a lot of scores to deal with on Fridays and a tight deadline.
Occasionally, a score gets mixed up, and that was the case with Ragsdale-Sun Valley on Friday. AP reported Sun Valley’s Spartans winning, but Ragsdale’s Tigers actually won 33-24 in the 4A West bracket.
n Matthews Butler is the choice for No. 1 in this week’s CarolinaPreps media poll that includes all classifications. West Rowan is up to No. 4, behind 4A schools Butler, Independence and Richmond County.
Albemarle, A.L. Brown and Salisbury didn’t make the top 25 but did get votes.
West’s next opponent Asheville is No. 14. South Point, A.L. Brown’s next test, is No. 25. Salisbury’s foe Pisgah, which has the same 9-4 record as the Hornets, didn’t make the list.
Ronnie Gallagher, Mike London and Bret Strelow contributed to the notebook.