Prep Football: Carson practice
This is the fifth in a series of stories on area football practices.
By Ronnie Gallagher
CHINA GROVE — It was Cougar Night at Carson, a chance for the parents to get involved.
Five offensive linemen stood against a wall in the gym as mamas took photos. They just stood there as the parents implored the Cougar behemoths to show some enthusiasm.
Moments later, on another wall, they finally perked up and did something they enjoyed.
Mitch Galloway, Daniel Rodriguez, C.J. Cain, Connor Gantt, Devon Peacock and Andrew Purcell flexed their muscles.
Believe this. There were plenty of bulging biceps.
Head coach Mark Woody, who coaches the OL, used to talk to UNC assistant Ken Browning, who told him the head coach should be in charge of the offensive line.
“I see why now,” Woody said “They’re unique. They need an identity. They see the big picture before anyone else does.”
With senior stars Zack Gragg, Shaun Warren and Cody Clanton leaving the offense, Rodriguez was asked about the future.
“We don’t think about who’s gone,” said Rodriguez, a senior listed on the roster at 345 pounds. “We think about who’s here.”
Woody loves the attitude.
“That’s a good-looking bunch,” he said, acting like a proud father. “They’re as good-looking of a group as you’ll see in high school football.”
DEE-FENSE: There are some big boys on defense as well, including 270-pound senior lineman Jeremiah Smith.
“He’ll make a lot of people stand up and look,” Woody said.
Don’t forget stud T.J. Smith, a 235-pound linebacker who should create havoc in the NPC for a second straight season.
NEW COACHES: Andre McCain and Cameron Frick have joined Woody’s staff.
McCain, who once played for West Rowan, was on the East Rowan staff last year. He’ll coach defensive backs.
“Andre was a freshman when I was at West,” said Woody. “He has done real well. The kids like him. He has a great personality.”
Frick came over from Southeast Middle, where he coached football and basketball.
“He knows a lot of the kids coming in,” Woody said.
CELEBRATING? Woody was asked if he was still basking in the glory of a 10-win campaign in 2010.
“I really haven’t had a chance to to take it in,” he admitted. “It’s one of those things that down the road, I’ll feel real proud about. But there’s no rest for the weary. We have to improve on last year.”
Woody did say this about his 10-win season.
“To be honest with you, we thought we should’ve had two more.”
YES, DEAR: There’s a newlywed on Carson’s staff: Travis Billings, who married Allison Winchip July 9.
“It’s been a little different,” Billings said. “You’ve gotta answer a little more — where am I, What am I doing? It’s a good change.”
Allison now has to become a football wife.
“Fortunately, she went through last year’s football season,” Billings said.
Asked if he prepped Billings on being a football coach with a wife, Woody laughed.
“There’s a lot of yes ma’ams,” he said. “Really, it’s hard. It really is. There’s an adjustment period.”
How did Billings and Winchip meet?
“She was the cheerleading coach,” Billings said. “I met her on the bus going to a jayvee football game.”
The afternoon interview with Billings was then cut short. Why?
His wife called.
HE’S STOUT: Carson had to wait for some players who were competing in AAU.
One was 245-pound sophomore Myquon Stout. The 15-year-old is in the top five in his age group in the shot.
“We’re looking for him to be a factor at defensive end,” Billings said.
INITIAL THAT: You want initials? Carson’s got plenty.
There’s a K.J, a B.J, and a D.J. As in Pressley, Collins and Love.
There’s T.J. Smith, T.J. Bell and T.J. Barringer.
And don’t forget C.J., as in Cain.
COLLEGE-BOUND: Last year’s Cougar center Caleb McCora is at Coastal Carolina as a center and long-snapper.