Prep Football: Salisbury practice
This is the sixth in a series of stories on area football practices.
Tuesday: West Rowan
Wednesday: Football edition
By Ronnie Gallagher
SALISBURY — Travis Byrd didn’t know it at the time, but he had just given Rowan County its quote of the year.
When Post reporter David Shaw asked how Salisbury came back from a 37-27 deficit against Central Davidson last season to win 56-37, Byrd responded, “It says we never quit because we bring the bang-bang.”
The bang-bang? Where did that come from?
“I was hyped and pumped up after the game,” he shrugged, wearing a big smile. “It just came out.”
It also brought out the best in his teammates. The Hornets never lost again on their way to a 2AA state title. By the end of the year, everyone was talking about bringing the bang-bang.
“It became the team motto,” Byrd said.
If fans thought Byrd was confident then, here’s Byrd now, one of eight returning starters on defense:
“It’s the same as last year,” he chirped. “Bang-bang, we come out and hit. We hit hard. This year, the defense is going to be sparked up. We all bang-bang.”
You’ve been warned.
JOE’S PUMPED, TOO: Like Byrd, head coach Joe Pinyan is sparked up.
“The way it’s fallen in place has given me new energy,” he said. “Let’s attack this season with a different level.”
One of Pinyan’s assistants, Greg Philpot, said, “This is probably the toughest coaching job he’ll ever have. To repeat is always tough. It’s a heck of a challenge when you’ve been state champ and everybody’s gunning for you.”
RINGS OFF, PLEASE: Linebacker Kavari Hillie, his team’s MVP in the 30-0 state title win over Northeastern, has explicit instructions for his teammates.
“I told them not to wear their rings,” Hillie said. “I didn’t want them to get too comfortable. If you see a ring on your finger, that might make you happy.”
Can Salisbury win another title?
“I believe we can,” Hillie said. “I have faith in us, but only time will tell. We have to work hard.”
HE’S LIKE IKE: Salisbury will use running back Max Allen, who came over from East Rowan.
Pinyan likens him to former stud fullback Ike Whitaker.
“He’s a talented player,” Pinyan said. “After spending a year in the weight room, he might look like Ike.”
Pinyan said not to make anything about Allen coming from East.
“People can say what they want, but he was supposed to be here in the first place. He went to Knox.”
In fact, Pinyan said Allen came to his mini-camp in between his eight and ninth grade years.
“We were kinda shocked when he went over to East,” Pinyan said.
ATKINS? It is a curious opponent. Atkins of Winston-Salem?
That’s the fifth game on the schedule, replacing Davie County.
“Davie wouldn’t agree to play us across the board,” Pinyan explained. “They wouldn’t play us in basketball.”
Pinyan thought he had Bessemer City locked up, but it backed out. Scrambling, Pinyan signed up Atkins, which he said “is a new school trying to build things.”
NEW COACHES: Pinyan has added former Hornet Scotty Robinson, Steven Swayney and Philpot, who is on his second tour of duty with Salisbury.
Philpot replaces Darius Bryson, who went to an elementary school in Raleigh so he could teach P.E.
LOYALTY: Want loyalty among coaches? When Pinyan coached the East-West game in July, Hornet assistants Ryan Crowder, David Johnson and J.K. Adkins were in the booth helping out.
“Those guys didn’t have to be there,” Pinyan said. “We’ve grown closer as a staff.”
HONORING THE PAST: Salisbury will use its home games to pay tribute to all the state title teams — the WNCHSAA champs, too — from J.C. Price, Boyden and Salisbury.
“The way we look at it, there is no distinguishing between Price, Boyden and Salisbury,” Pinyan said. “It’s the same bloodlines, you just fell under a different name.”
Pinyan said the school will also make time to honor last year’s state champs in football, girls basketball, girls tennis and boys golf.
SCRIMMAGE: Salisbury went to Watauga on Saturday night and Pinyan said his team looked good.