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Gallagher column: Rowan bringing winners to East-West game

GREENSBORO — There were 32 players who showed up last week to play for Joe Pinyan’s West team and 31 of them came to the first practice wondering how exactly the wishbone offense worked.
The one player who could show them was John Knox, who happened to be Pinyan’s quarterback at Salisbury.
One problem solved.
“John’s like having an additional coach,” Pinyan said. “He knows everything that’s going on. He communicates with the kids.”
OK, but will the other 31 West players accept playing this different offense?
“One thing that really sold them is that they know we won a state championship,” Pinyan smiled.
Second problem solved.
The West enters tonight’s annual East-West game at Jamieson Stadium full of confidence and full of themselves. They have had plenty of fun all week long, cajoling each other as much as patting each other on the back.
Knox was voted captain of the West squad by his teammates.
“The kids love him. The coaches love him,” Pinyan said.
Knox also gets to play with two other state champs in offensive linemen Davon Quarles and speedster Trey Mashore of West Rowan.
They’ve won three state titles in a row.
“They know how to win,” Pinyan said. “That’s what they do — win.”
This past year, Pinyan and West’s Scott Young were co-coaches of the year in the county. Now, their players are joining forces.
“It’s kinda odd,” Quarles joked when asked what it was like being coached by Pinyan. “It’s good, though.”
He slapped five with Pinyan.
Knox has been barking signals and instructions throughout the week.
“If they have any questions, they come to me and I tell them what to do,” Knox said.
There may have been a time or two Knox barked a bit too loud.
“(Knox) was trying to say something smart to me yesterday,” Quarles said. “I was like, ‘Awright, now. I’ll let ‘em come.”
Getting a little bossy, John?
“I let Coach Pinyan do all the bossing,” he said.
Quarles let out a hearty laugh.
“It’s great to play with these people,” he said. “I was out of shape. But after the first day, it felt like I was back in the regular season at West Rowan.”
Mashore, headed to Catawba, agreed.
“I hadn’t had the pads on in a while,” he said.
In his personal dream world, Mashore knows what kind of start he’d like.
“Get the crowd going with a good kick return or punt return,” Mashore said. “If you get the crowd behind you and get the other team down, it’s a big advantage.”
The demeanor of the West players is exactly what Pinyan has strived for.
“When they’re on the practice field, their focus is on the football game,” Pinyan said. “But they are also fun to be around. We’re like a close-knit family. The coaches are sitting back enjoying it.”
Pinyan hopes the enjoyment continues for Quarles, Mashore and Knox tonight. All three ended their winter with state titles. Now, they want their last game as a high-schooler to be a win, too.
“”We’ve had some pretty intense practices,” said Pinyan, his voice hoarse. “You don’t have to get on them quite as much. They are all-stars.”
And the most important all-star may be the man lining up under center — John Knox.
“One of our coaches said, ‘He can’t come out of the game,’ ” Pinyan laughed.
Unless, of course, it’s for a curtain call after leading the West to a victory.

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

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