Prep Football: The Notebook, Week 2
From staff reports
Just how good has Salisbury’s defense been so far?
You don’t have to be an MIT grad to figure out the stats. The Hornets have given up just six points, five first downs and allowed minus 18 rushing yards in the first two games. Three interceptions have given Salisbury more possessions, as if it needs them.
“We may not as be as good as we’ve been in the past,” Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan said. “But we are very, very good up the middle.”
RUNNING GAME: Salisbury just missed its rushing total from the first game against East Rowan (372) as it piled up 368 yards on the ground. The Hornets lead the county with 740 yards rushing.
Max Allen, Brian Bauk, Dominique Dismuke and Justin Ruffin are all in the top 5 individually.
“The defense told us at practice they want to keep us in the game and they want to put up points so that’s what we’ve been doing,” Dismuke said.
MISCUES: Four turnovers didn’t tell the story for Salisbury in the lopsided win, but for Pinyan, the three lost fumbles and one interception said too much. The 80 yards in penalties were pretty loud as well.
“I think we can be a better football team,” Pinyan said. “We’re laying the ball down too much and making silly mistakes.”
Salisbury put the ball on the ground five times in the opener against East and lost possession once.
Can you say perfect?
That’s what Zay Laster was in a 42-35 win over Davie County Friday night.
A big question mark was the quarterback position but Laster finished 10-for-10 for 161 yards.
“That’s pretty impressive,” praised West coach Scott Young.
The coach added that Laster has to learn to throw it away instead of taking sacks, “but hey, 10-for-10 kinda speaks for itself.”
SPEED MERCHANT: Remember the name C.J. Ellis. The reigning 100-meter county champ made several big plays in the win. He had a 27-yard run with a fake punt. He ran back a kickoff 90 yards. He had an interception.
“We need him to contribute more like he did Friday night,” Young said.
KICKING GAME: Fans wondered why West went for two after its first score. The conversion pass failed.
“Our senior long-snapper didn’t have his mouthpiece in and (the refs) sent him off the field,” Young said.
That put West in a hole and it went for two on its first three scores. It missed on all three.
Hobie Proctor then was allowed to kick and made three straight PATs
BIG PLAY: The Falcons scored 42 points but it was a defensive play that may have saved the win.
With one snap left in the first half, Davie, down 25-20, was three inches from taking a lead into the locker room. West’s defensive line stuffed Adam Smith’s sneak.
“The whole front,” coach Scott Young replied when asked who made the tackle. “It was a big pile of humanity.”
Young told his kids after the 21-14 loss to Mooresville in the opener that 10 to 12 plays can be the difference of winning or losing.
“That goal-line play was one of them,” he said.
QB IMPRESSES YOUNG: Adam Smith’s 371 yards passing for Davie was third all-time, ranking behind Garrett Benge’s 384 and Zach Illing’s 377.
Smith accomplished the feat in only his second start at quarterback.
“I thought their quarterback played phenomenal,” West’s Young said. “He threw the ball perhaps better than we gave him credit for. He stayed in the pocket, bought some time and made some plays. We were more concerned with his legs.”
Quarterback T.J. Allen was able to showcase his talents on North’s final offensive play of the first half of the loss to Salisbury.
The junior quarterback scrambled around to some empty space and found Parker Smith beyond the coverage for a 46-yard touchdown pass. It was the first offense touchdown of the season for the Cavaliers, who recovered a blocked punt in the end zone in the opener against Carson.
“We’ve got to find a way to move the ball,” Fleming said. “We have to find some consistency.”
FORCING TURNOVERS: In order to pull the upset, North would need to cause a few turnovers. The Cavs did, Forcing and recovering three fumbles and grabbing an interception. Malik Jones recovered a fumble on Salisbury’s first drive of the game and Jake Becker hopped on a loose ball two drives later.
Capitalizing on them was a different story.
“We had moments where we were doing well defensively,” Fleming said. “On offense, we moved the ball at times but not like we need to.”
FANS BOND: Despite a long-time rivalry, Salisbury and North fans came together though a common bond Friday night. Neither side cheered at the same time, except when the West Rowan-Davie score was announced with the Falcons trailing in the second quarter.
PENALTIES: 80 yards in penalties didn’t help the Cavaliers efforts. Mental mistakes plagued North, who was called for too many men on the field three times and personal foul on a late hit twice.
“We need to learn to play mistake-free football at least one series at a time,” Fleming said. “I don’t think either side of the ball would be happy with how they played.”
The Cougars have found the future in freshman runner Brandon Sloop.
With Travis Abbitt’s ailing shoulder, the diaper dandy ran for 130 yards on 27 carries and scored on a short run in a 13-7 loss to Northwest Cabarrus.
“He’s a tough kid,” said Carson coach Mark Woody.
What impressed Woody was what Sloop did on the sidelines.
“I was talking to the line and Sloop came over and sat with them,” Woody said. “He didn’t say a word. That’s things you don’t teach.”
ABBITT UPDATE: No one expected Abbitt to play Friday due to a shoulder injury suffered in the opener. But he managed seven carries for 37 yards before leaving.
“It was a game-time situation,” Woody explained of Abbitt’s start “He thought he could go. It wasn’t that he got hit. He just tensed up. We decided to take him out. We’ve got a lot of season ahead of us.”
WORRIED? Carson scored just seven points Friday, but Woody is patient with his young offense and his sophomore QB Austin McNeil.
“We had 14 first downs, (almost) 300 yards of offense and 66 offensive plays,” he pointed out. “I’m probably more conservative than I should be trying to shorten the game. We’ll see if we can pick it up.”
GOOD D: Northwest was held to nine first downs and 235 yards. A big reason was Jeremiah Smith, a senior defensive lineman.
“He’s playing very well,” Woody said. “He’s a force.”
Sheer numbers were an issue for South Rowan in Friday’s ugly 63-12 loss to A.L. Brown that was basically decided by the end of the first quarter.
“They’ve got a whole lot of depth, and they’ve got about 70 kids,” South coach Jason Rollins said. “We dressed 34.”
A.L. Brown’s Damien Washington put on a show with four long TDs early, and the Raiders were in a 35-6 hole three minutes into the second quarter.
“They smacked us right in the face,” Rollins said.
NICE NUMBERS: While quarterback Nathan Lambert and tight end Josh Medlin got a lot of their numbers on one 73-yard connection that came when the score was 56-6, both finished with solid numbers.
Lambert has thrown for 365 yards and three TDs and still leads the county in passing and total offense, while Medlin has seven catches for 205 yards and two scores to rank second to West’s Jarvis Morgan, who had one of the monster receiving games in county history on Friday.
Medlin, a junior, owns back-to-back 100-yard efforts, quite possibly the only time a receiver has accomplished that feat in South history.
Ricky Sherrill cramped up after carrying South’s offense in the first half. He had 65 yards at halftime but carried just once in the second half.
BRIGHT SPOTS: Despite an 0-2 start and a difficult Friday matchup against Northwest Cabarrus, Rollins sounded optimistic in his postgame comments.
“We’re so much better at this point than we were a year ago,” he said.
FRESHMAN FUEL: There was some debate as to whether to keep freshman DB/receiver/returner Daveon Perry on the varsity, but Rollins is convinced he belongs.
“The last freshman we kept from the start was Mark McDaniel, and you know how he turned out,” Rollins said. “Daveon is already playing like a varsity player.”
DEFENSE: While not much went right for South defensively against the Wonders, linebacker Bubba McLaughlin had two tackles for loss, linebacker Chandler Brown recovered a fumble, and safety Eric Tyler fell on a muffed punt by the Wonders.
The 0-2 Mustangs don’t need injuries but they may be without their best player against North Rowan on Friday.
Senior cornerback Wesley LeRoy suffered heat exhaustion and as of Tuesday, coach Chad Tedder said he was doubtful.
“He played harder than anybody I’ve ever seen,” Tedder said of the 58-0 loss to Concord. “Every play was to the wall. I don’t know if he’ll be able to play this week.”
SENIOR SUPERLATIVE: With DBs LeRoy and Raykwon Torrence going down with injury, senior Kyler Brown, a receiver, stepped in and performed admirably.
“That was a highlight for me,” Tedder said.
Not just LeRoy, but the entire defense is worn down.
“They’ve played a lot of snaps in two games,” Tedder said. “I give them a lot of credit. Nobody on that field gave up. I’m proud of them.”
TOUGH FOES: East has been outscored 109-0 so far as the offense tries to find an identity.
“It’s tough to play Salisbury (a 51-0 loss) and then turn around and play Concord,” Tedder said. “Concord’s the real deal. I’d like to see that Concord-Kannapolis game (Oct. 28).
A.L. Brown has a potentially lethal weapon in big wideout Keeon Johnson, and the gameplan at South called for a considerable amount of passing.
But the Wonders won too easily. They had three TDs after five offensive snaps, and coach Mike Newsome backed off the throttle.
“We really wanted to work on our passing game and to build the confidence of our quarterback (Brandon Eppinger),” Newsome said. “But it got out of hand so quickly, we didn’t really get to throw it.”
One of Eppinger’s handful of tosses went for an 80-yard TD to Washington.
NO LETDOWN: Brown jumped on Shelby 30-0 opening night, then watched the Golden Lions score 24 unanswered points in the second half to make it a game.
It’s not like South is as talented as Shelby, but the Wonders didn’t allow a repeat of that on Friday.
When South took advantage of a kicking-game mistake by the Wonders to cut Brown’s lead to 21-6, Brown answered just 21 seconds later with a 61-yard scoring run by Washington.
IN THE PINK: Robert Pinkston topped 100 rushing yards against South on just two carries.
COMMUNICATION: Washington is verbally committed to UNC.
Newsome said he called UNC coach Everett Withers after Washington’s strong game against Shelby, and Newsome couldn’t wait to make another call after Washington put up ridiculous stats on an abbreviated night against South.
KICKING: Placekicker Erik Amaya missed the South game with a concussion, but jayvee Jonathan Cano and Luke Hill were solid on PATs.
West basketball coach Mike Gurley commented that Davie receiver Nate Jones wears the perfect number: 3. Hitting 3-pointers in basketball is his specialty but the senior is getting kudos in football. He had seven catches for 158 yards in the loss to West. It was only his second football game since his freshman year.
DENZEL: Another War Eagle who hasn’t suited up since the ninth grade is Denzel Redmon, like Jones, known more for basketball. He had long kickoff returns of 95 and 88 yards.
“Oh, it’s tiring,” Redmon said. “About the 20-yard line, I was slowing down. I kind of got dizzy.”
West’s Morgan had seven catches for 180 yards on Friday, one of the top performances in county history, but there have been even bigger ones.
East’s Nick Heard had six catches for 227 yards and two scores in a game against Sun Valley in 1996. Josh Brady was the quarterback for East.
North’s J.R. Neely had nine catches for 199 yards in a game against East in 1997 and followed it up with nine catches for 155 yards and a whopping five TDs against West Rowan the following week. North’s QB was Mario Sturdivant.
The greatest performances of all may have come from North’s Alfonzo Miller late in the 1999 season.
With Sturdivant throwing, Miller had seven catches for 214 yards and four TDs against East Davidson in the regular-season finale. Then he had five catches for 201 yards in a first-round playoff loss to Brevard the following week.
Ronnie Gallagher, Mike London, Ryan Bisesi and Brian Pitts contributed to the notebook.