Friday Night Hero: Salisbury's Brian Bauk
By Mike London
SALISBURY — Salisbury coaches were confident they had quarterback competition — as opposed to a quarterback problem — and the events of Friday night proved them right.
Senior QB contestant Jon Hall sat out a 51-0 victory against East Rowan with a thumb injury sustained in a scrimmage, but junior QB Brian Bauk smoothly directed an attack that piled up 429 yards of offense.
Bauk’s efficient work was reminiscent of the outings that departed hero John Knox turned in Friday after Friday and year after year.
“Right up to last week, we didn’t know who was going to start at quarterback,” Bauk said. “But then Hall got hurt, and they really didn’t have a choice. But I wasn’t nervous. I haven’t been nervous since my freshman year.”
Salisbury head coach Joe Pinyan said he has plenty of faith in both quarterbacks.
“I really don’t think we could’ve gone wrong either way,” he said. “Jon looked special in the preseason, and then Brian made the coaching staff look smart on Friday. They’re both good enough athletes to help us at places other than quarterback.”
Pinyan said Bauk wasn’t perfect, but he was reasonably close. There was one misread on an option and one pass thrown to a covered receiver, but the staff was thrilled he avoided major mistakes.
“The kid played pretty flawless,” Pinyan said. “Made good throws. Made good runs. He’s the one that got us on the board.”
Salisbury’s first two possessions weren’t exactly things of beauty — ending with a fumble and a punt.
But on their third possession, the Hornets marched 63 yards. Bauk got the first TD of the season, fooling the Mustangs by faking a handoff and slipping 26 yards up the middle on a keeper.
“It was the second time we ran that play, and the first time their guys didn’t bite,” Bauk said. “But on the touchdown, they had four guys tackle Travon Ellis, so it was wide open for me.”
Bauk has excellent speed — he’s a terrific baseball center fielder — and he split East’s defense before anyone realized he still had the ball.
Bauk’s been timed in the 60-yard dash by baseball scouts in 6.7 seconds. The relevant time in football is the 40-yard dash, and Bauk has been clocked in 4.59.
“Line him up in the 40 and he’s as fast as any of our running backs, and that’s saying something with Justin Ruffin, Dominique Dismuke and Max Allen back there,” Pinyan said.
Bauk’s other key play was a 48-yard strike to Dismuke off play-action that made it 21-0 in the second quarter. That was the knockout punch.
“Their safeties came flying up on a fake toss — they had to commit if they were going to have a chance to stop a running play — and Dismuke ran a perfect route and hit the seam,” Bauk said.
After Bauk made an equally perfect throw to a wide-open Dismuke, the Hornets had a quick six.
“Sometimes that throw when a guy is wide-open like that is the hardest one to make, and sometimes it’s also the hardest ball to catch,” Pinyan said. “But we executed. That took the wind out of East some.”
Bauk is a likely Division I baseball recruit as a pitcher or outfielder and just turned in a stellar summer with the South Charlotte Panthers showcase team. He was all-county last spring with four mound wins and a .353 batting average and is already drawing interest schools such as East Carolina.
Bauk has come late to his second sport. He played one year of YFL ball, but Sacred Heart doesn’t have football, so he didn’t see an end zone after sixth grade until he reported to Pinyan as a Salisbury freshman.
“I’ve had a baseball bat in my hands since I was 5, and that’s been my life,” Bauk said. “But football? I’m starting to love it to death.”
Bauk was a jayvee quarterback, but the Hornets also called him up for last season’s playoff charge. He had a chance to play fullback in some intense games. That experience was helpful.
“Bauk and Ruffin grew up a lot in those five playoff games,” Pinyan said. “It showed Friday night.”