Prep Football: North Rowan practice
This is the fourth in a series of stories on area football practices.
Today: North Rowan
By Ronnie Gallagher
SPENCER — Daniel Griffith learned how to play quarterback the right way when he lit up scoreboards for North Rowan a few years ago.
He gave much of the credit to assistant Bobby Myers. But Myers is gone now, and who better to take over as North Rowan quarterback coach than Griffith.
It’s a mutual admiration society.
“To this day, I’ll say he’s one of my favorite coaches,” Griffith said. “As far as taking over for him, it’s a dream come true.”
“Daniel’s going to do a great job,” said Myers, now at South Rowan.
Griffith brings a lot of the things he learned from Myers and from Chip Hester over at Catawba.
Who is going to benefit? T.J. Allen, that’s who. The junior gunslinger is the top returning quarterback in the county this season.
“First of all, T.J. has been here all summer,” Griffith said. “He has been busting his butt. He has shown so much improvement from the first year, it’s kinda remarkable. I’m drilling him hard and doing the same things I learned in college. He’s a quick learner.”
North coach Tasker Fleming said Griffith may be working even harder.
“He’s working up a sweat but he’s bringing a passion to the position,” Fleming praised. “He also brings knowledge. He gives it to T.J. and all the kids.”
What Fleming likes the most is Griffith’s loyalty, stating, “When his playing days were done, he was willing to give back to North.”
GILMORE WANTS MORE: Offensive coordinator Tremayne Gilmore is surely glad Griffith is mentoring Allen. He has a new pistol offense in place.
Asked if there was anything new the fans could expect, Gilmore grinned and said, “We’ve got some changes. You’ll just have to wait and see.”
YOUNG GUNS: Fleming said a program needs former players like Griffith and James House, another Hester product from Catawba.
“With an older coach, a kid might say, ‘You’re not my daddy.’ But you take a Daniel or a James House, they’re able to take a kid and tell them the truth as it is. When you tell them, ‘Four years ago, I was where you are,’ it makes a difference.”
ASSISTANTS: A couple of former Livingstone players are on the staff in Dennis Rivers and Edward Brown.
They played during Rudy Abrams’ glory years of the mid-90s.
“It was extraordinary,” Rivers said of playing on CIAA title teams.
Rivers has coached at Knox and in youth leagues.
“In high school, you expect them to know a little bit more but you still have to coach them up,” Rivers said. “The intensity level is totally different”
When asked what it was like to tackle Wilmont Perry in practice, Rivers, a DB shuddered and smiled, saying it was a chore.
THE STAFF: Rodney Goodine remains as one of the best defensive coordinators around. Ron Bost, Trent Edwards, Robert Myers (Bobby’s dad) and Maurice Swarrington are also on staff.
FAMOUS FACES: There are some familiar names on the roster this year that have excelled in other sports.
Is that basketball stars Jordan Kimber and 6-foot-7 Malik Ford? Is that state championship track MVP Johnny Oglesby? Is that wrestling star Parker Smith?
Fleming says it surely is. North’s titles in all 1A sports has everyone excited. Let’s not forget North football was one of those title-holders, winning the Yadkin Valley championship and earning the No. 1 playoff seed last season.
“We’ve had success in basketball and track,” he said. “The wrestling team was runnerup. Baseball was successful. There’s more interest in general.”
Oglesby will give North a speedy receiver.
“He gives me what Sam (Starks) gave me,” Fleming said. “We’ve got speed at wideout with him, Pierre Givens and Jalen Cook.”
Kimber is playing running back. He was once a middle-school star.
“When he came out, my heart starting beating a little quicker,” Fleming smiled. “He’s a smart kid.”
OSHON, IS THAT YOU? And then, there’s Oshon West, an all-county hoops performer as a freshman. That was also the last year he played football. He went to North Hills Christian last year and is now back at North.
“North Hills wasn’t like I wanted it to be,” West said. “I’m going to like being back here.”
West is a defensive end/ receiver/backup QB.
TRANSFERS: North has brought kids in from other counties. Big kids.
From Statesville comes Tyler Watlington, a 6-3, 240-pound defensive end/tight end. From Lake Norman comes Jake Becker, a 6-2, 225-pound linebacker.
ONE LAST HURRAH: Fleming loses one of North’s greatest players ever in defensive lineman Javon Hargrave, but “Hollywood Hargrave,” as he likes to call himself, went out on top as the defensive MVP in the East-West All-Star game.
Fleming knew it would happen.
“I told a bunch of people he’d be MVP,” Fleming said of the S.C. State recruit. “I wasn’t surprised he could play at that level. Just the fact there was only a week to prepare, I thought it would be difficult for the East’s offensive line to find a way to get two bodies on him. It takes two bodies.”
Asked how you replace Hargrave, Fleming chuckled and said, “Divide his weight and put it in two bodies.”
GOING UP: On the first day of practice, North had only 35 players out. Fleming was happy to report he has around 60 now.