East-West Football: Hargrave counted on for his hits and his mitts
By Ronnie Gallagher
GREENSBORO — Everyone knows about Javon Hargraves’s big hits. He was the most dominating defensive player in the Yadkin Valley Conference.
But it may be his mitts that eventually helps the West team the most in tonight’s East-West All-Star football game at Grimsley’s Jamieson Stadium.
Head coach Joe Pinyan is giving the 6-foot-2, 260-pound defensive lineman a chance to be a tight end.
In practice, West quarterback John Knox has been slinging it Hargrave’s way.
“He caught it up against his pads,” chuckled Pinyan. “I said, ‘You gotta learn to catch it with your hands.’ ”
Which brought a look of disdain from Hargrave.
“As long as you catch the ball, it doesn’t matter,” he said with a roll of his eyes.
Pinyan has no concerns about Hargrave’s defensive abilities.
“He’s had a great week. He’s been a bear to block,” Pinyan said.
Some wondered how a 1A star would do against players from a bigger school. It has been no problem for the man called, “Hollywood Hargrave.”
“It’s a few more challenges but it’s still the same,” Hargrave said.
IMPRESSIVE: West Rowan’s Davon Quarles isn’t the biggest lineman on the team but he has made the biggest impression on offensive line coach Todd Hagler.
“He’s a very talented young man,” Hagler said. “He’s obviously undersized. I was skeptical when I saw his size (5-10, 235). I watched him on film and decided he could play. If he was 6-2, 6-3, I think he’d be playing pretty big-time college football.”
Quarles and the linemen have had the toughest job learning Pinyan’s wishbone offense. There are 12 run schemes and four different protections.
“None of these guys knew the language four days ago,” Hagler said.
Quarles said he enjoyed his time with Hagler, comparing him to West’s offensive line coach Joe Nixon.
“He’s got a little swagger like Coach Nixon,” Quarles grinned.
HUMBLED: Hagler, an A.L. Brown assistant wondered how he was chosen to be a coach.
“I said I really didn’t know why I was picked,” Hagler said. “There are a lot of deserving head coaches out there.”
He is the only West coach who is an assistant.
“They’ve treated me as an equal,” he said. “I’m not an equal. I’m an assistant coach. They’ve allowed me to coach and I give credit to Coach Pinyan.”
Pinyan returned the compliment, saying things he has learned from Hagler will be taken back to Salisbury.
COACHING FUN: Pinyan and Hagler talked about the kids enjoying themselves but so are the coaches.
“We spend more time laughing than coaching,” Pinyan said of himself and assistants coaches Hagler, Adrian Snow, Mike Cheek, Chuck Henderson and Tom Harper.
Henderson used to coach at Salisbury’s Central Carolina opponent Ledford so it afforded Pinyan the chance to rub it in.
“We joked about the field goal that beat them my first year at Salisbury,” Pinyan said. “The only two people who thought the ball went through the goalposts were the officials.”
LOVING LESLIE: Pinyan said the first time he talked to A.L. Brown’s burly linebacker Andrew Leslie, he was impressed with the excitement in Leslie’s voice.
Hagler said it wasn’t fake.
“If we had to play this game in a parking lot with leather helmets, Andrew would be there and be excited about playing,” Hagler said. “He truly loves this game.”
Leslie said he was downcast after A.L. Brown was ousted from the playoffs by Charlotte Catholic, ending his prep career.
“It hurt me that I had to hang up the jersey and hang up the helmet for Kannapolis,” he said. “My school meant so much to me. It’s always good to represent one more time and it’s always good to get the opportunity to put on that green “K.”
TWO WONDERS: Leslie joins A.L. Brown teammate Teven Jones, a wide receiver and kick returner on the West team.
“He’s a tremendous talent,” Pinyan said. “I know why Ron Massey enjoyed his years down there with talent like that.”
GREATNESS: Knox thinks it’s great that he’s on the same side as Quarles and Trey Mashore of West.
“Davon blocks his heart out and Trey’s a speedster,” Knox whewed. “I can see why they won the state three straight times.”
NOTES: Tonight’s game begins at 8 p.m. … Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for youths ages 2 through high school. … Parking is free at Jamieson Stadium.