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Gallagher: Thanks for playing on Turkey Day

Roaming the county getting ready for tonight …
Former East Rowan coach Tom Eanes once told me that every football coach knows he’s had a good season if his team is holding workouts over the Thanksgiving holidays.
Eanes is now at Pender County and his 1AA team is practicing this week after a 56-13 win against Ayden-Grifton. And two of the teams Eanes used to coach against, West Rowan and Salisbury, are alive on Turkey Day.
Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan said he always knows it’s a special season when he sees houses decorated for Christmas and his team is still playing.
“I’ve seen Christmas lights,” Pinyan announced cheerfully. “So it’s been a heck of a year.”
No. 8 Salisbury (9-4) knocked off 2AA No. 1 seed Shelby 34-26 last week and travels to No. 5 Pisgah tonight.
“This is the third time since I’ve been here that we’ve practiced on Thanksgiving,” said Pinyan, now in his seventh year guiding the Hornets. “Maybe we can make a little more noise than we did the last two.”

West Rowan playing at this time of the year is a given.
Or Thanksgiven, if you will.
The 13-0 defending 3A champion is at home against 12-0-1 Asheville.
We can take a break from the fanfare of K.P. Parks going after the North Carolina career rushing mark. He has chased Toney Baker’s record all season, but he has it after a businesslike 13 games.
Now, in the 14th, maybe K.P. can just run for fun.

Pinyan calls his meeting with Pisgah, “poetic justice.”
It really is.
Those two were expected to meet in the third round of playoffs last year. It didn’t happen. Pisgah eliminated Salisbury in the first.
What happened?
After Salisbury pummeled North Rowan in last year’s regular-season finale, it stood 11-0. It would get a home game.
But the Hornets were turned in for having an ineligible player. Salisbury forfeited four games.
“Take all the forfeits out and we’re 11-0 and Pisgah is 8-3,” Pinyan explained. “They’re probably going to win their first two and we’re going to win ours, with us playing them in the third round.
“Now, we get to play them in the third round, so it’s poetic justice.”

It won’t be easy. The entire 2AA bracket isn’t easy.
When the playoffs began, Pinyan was told, “If you beat East Burke, you get to play Shelby. If you beat Shelby, you get to play Pisgah. If you’re lucky enough to beat Pisgah, you get to play either Newton-Conover, Bandys or East Lincoln.”
It all made Pinyan’s head spin.
“And all that just to get to the Green Bay Packers of Reidsville?” he exclaimed.

If West gets past Asheville, it could face unbeaten Hibriten ó on the road.
That’s right. You can win the state championship, go undefeated the next season and still not be a top seed in your bracket. Hibriten, also 13-0, won a draw.
If Tuscola beats Hibriten, then West would stay in Mount Ulla.
But first things first. The Falcons will need a lot of K.P. to beat Asheville.

Let’s wave goodbye to East Rowan, which lost to Havelock 27-7 in the second round.
The Mustangs were the darlings of Rowan County this year, winning nine games after a 1-10 season in 2008. What a job Brian Hinson and his staff did in making those kids believe.
But putting the Mustangs in the East bracket and sending them to Havelock was a bit silly. Reports were the team bus arrived home at 3:30 a.m.

Carson also lost in the second round, falling to No. 1 seed Cardinal Gibbons 21-15.
In only its fourth year of existence, Mark Woody coached Carson to a 7-6 record.
But there were many shining moments in China Grove this fall. The boys soccer team, as well as the girls tennis and volleyball teams, matched the football team by making the playoffs. The girls cross country team won the North Piedmont Conference championship.

And finally …
We’ve listened to West coach Scott Young gush over Parks for four years. But how about the opposing coaches?
“I’m thankful he can’t get any more yards against us,” Pinyan said.
“It’s amazing. He got a lot of yards against us (221) and we never noticed it. That’s a tribute to him. He gets his yards.”
Don’t be surprised if Pinyan shows his running backs film of Parks, who puts on a clinic every Friday night.
“The thing I like about K.P. most is, he gets behind his blockers and uses them to his advantage,” Pinyan said. “A lot of runners don’t have the patience to stay back there.”

On the air tonight …
– On the WSTP Platt-form, Howard Platt and Wilson Cherry will bring us the Asheville-West Rowan game on 1490 AM.
– On WSAT 1280 AM, Johnny Cloer and Glen Taylor will be broadcasting the Salisbury-Pisgah matchup.
Go to a game tonight, folks. And be nice.

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com.

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