Common Sense says a good start usually means a good season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 18, 2011

It’s the opening night of the prep football season, which raises a timely question.
Just how vital is it to start out 1-0?
Well, historically, it’s pretty important. While tonight’s game will be just one of 11 for most area teams (South Rowan and East Rowan have scheduled 10), the opener can set the tone for the season.
n South Rowan is 24-25-1 on opening night over the years, although two of South’s finest teams — the 1981 team that went 10-2 and the 1983 squad that finished 11-2 — rebounded impressively after losing openers to North Rowan.
South has won just one of its last seven openers. The lone win in that stretch — a 38-20 victory against Salisbury in 2009 — was the first step toward a 9-3 season.
South has never kicked off a season against Cental Cabarrus, tonight’s opponent.
n East Rowan is 20-32 on opening nights over the years and debuts against a familiar opening-night opponent — Salisbury.
This will be the 23rd time the county foes have clashed in East’s opener, and the Mustangs own just five scattered wins in those meetings.
The schools met to begin every East season from 2001-2008, and the Hornets prevailed in six of those eight matchups.
But you may be surprised to know that East has won three of its last four openers. The Mustangs nipped North Rowan to start the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
n Salisbury is 7-1 in openers under coach Joe Pinyan, with the lone loss coming to South Rowan in 2009.
There have been lots of seasons in which Salisbury played South on opening night, then also served as the first opponent for East (the Mustangs frequently had first-week byes) in Week 2.
n Over the years, North Rowan is 24-28-1 on opening night. The Cavaliers were 24-24-1 until they dropped their last four openers.
North won six straight openers from 1981-86 for the best stretch in school history.
Tonight’s meeting will mark the first time a North Rowan-Carson matchup has been the opening game for both schools.
North has never opened a season by playing Carson, but the Cougars, who had byes the first week of the 2007 and 2008 seasons, played their openers both those years against North.
n Carson is 2-3 on its opening night, beating North in 2008 (for the program’s first win ever) and Hickory Ridge in 2010.
n West Rowan is 23-28-1 on opening nights over the years, although the Falcons have made up some ground by winning their last six openers. West is officially 11-2 in openers under coach Scott Young with those 0-1 starts coming courtesy of Davie County in 2003-04.
West opens tonight with Mooresville. This will be the first time since 1990 that the Falcons have opened against the Blue Devils. The teams have squared off in West’s opener eight times. Both schools own four victories.
n Davie, which opens against Greensboro Page tonight, had won six straight openers before losing to Alexander Central in 2009 and 2010. Davie also lost to Alexander Central in its 2002 opener, so it’s happy to be opening with someone other than the AC Cougars.
n A.L. Brown debuts tonight under coach Mike Newsome.
The Wonders won their last seven openers under coach Ron Massey and went 9-2 during his tenure. Both those opening-night losses were by one point — to North Rowan in 2001 and South Rowan in overtime in 2003.
n So how big are tonight’s games? Obviously, they mean quite a bit — but not everything.
You could ask East’s 1959 team, a squad that is the answer to the trivia question: “What Rowan team lost its opening game, then went unbeaten the rest of the season?” After losing 13-0 to Children’s Home to start 0-1, those Mustangs finished 9-1.
On the flip side, North’s 1965 team had an equally unique record — winning opening night (vs. Monroe), then losing every game the rest of the season.n
The picks:
Carson 28, North 8
As far as the last three meetings, the scoreboard reads Carson 111, North 0.
West 21, Mooresville 13
The streak should continue, but the Falcons are still a work in progress.
Salisbury 28, East 7
Salisbury’s experienced defense is good enough to win games while the offense figures things out.
South 27, C. Cabarrus 17
South could really use a positive start after last season’s struggles. The good news is Central hasn’t won a game in a long, long time.
Shelby 24, A.L. Brown 21
This one should be serious. The Wonders are good, but Shelby returns a ridiculous amount of studs from last season’s playoff run.
Page 31, Davie 24
On paper, the Pirates are loaded, while Davie lost 15 starters.