Prep Football: The Notebook, Week 3
From staff reports
The prep notebook …
He scored no points and caught no passes against Salisbury on Friday during a 37-28 win, but West Rowan head coach Scott Young said Ahmed Blackwell one of the biggest reasons his team won its 38th straight against county opponents.
Blackwell was a member of the scout team and brought a Hornet feel to practice.
“He did a great job running our scout team offense , giving us a look at that Salisbury speed and that helped us prepare,” Young said. “In the game, he did an adequate job blocking.”
STILL NO. 1: Despite a loss in the season opener that ended the nation’s longest win streak at 46, at least one voter still believes in the Falcons as the best team in 3A.
Although ranked eighth overall in the latest N.C. poll, West received one first-place vote.
Top-ranked Charlotte Catholic received six votes, while No. 5 Havelock had three. West and ninth-place Gray’s Creek had one each.
DOMINATING: West’s defensive line was the story of the game as Young singled out Greg Dixon and Trey Shepherd. The performance was something Young had been looking for.
“They played with great tempo,” he said. “They were playing fast. As long as they’re willing to go hard every snap, that’s a good start.”
Defensive line coach Stevie Williams, a former Catawba star, was happy. It brought back memories of the days when Chris Smith and Eli Goodson embarrassed everybody’s backfield.
“They played like they’re supposed to,” Williams said after the game. “This team goes as the D-line goes.”
You’ll get no argument from Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan. He was asked if he should’ve let QB Brian Bauk pass more.
“No,” Pinyan said. “Any time we threw a pass, it endangered Brian’s life. They were just that good up front.”
THE OTHER LINE: The West offensive line stepped up as quarterback Zay Laster and running backs Dinkin Miller, Desmond Jackson and Mack “Truck” Flanagan combined to rip off 217 yards.
“The line had a decent night for the simple fact they had given up minus yards in two games,” Young said.
The line showed appreciation to Laster, who led several drives, ran for 71 yards and hit key third-down passes. Mike Norman said Laster just had to get some snaps under his belt and now he’s much more comfortable than in the opener when West lost to Mooresville.
“He didn’t know the ropes, but he got used to it,” said Norman.
BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW: Miller says his hidden talent is belly dancing.
WOUNDED KNEE: Sophomore Darius Gabriel played his first game in the secondary on Friday night.
It will be his last.
Gabriel is on crutches after tearing his ACL.
Receiver Brandon Ijames, who injured his knee in Alabama during a summer 7-on-7, is back on the field.
THE PROCTOR FACTOR: West struggled a little with its kicking game last year, but Hobie Proctor proved he can be counted on. When West’s first drive of the second half stalled, Proctor confidently booted a 28-yard field goal.
“That’s one of the first meaningful field goals we’ve had in a number of years,” Young said. “He has improved tremendously. It’s good to see we can go out there and get three.”
OUCH: The Toughness Award of the Week goes to manager Jacob Pangburn, who was bitten by a copperhead recently. He’s OK.
The 28 points scored by Salisbury against West were the most by a county opponent since the Falcons beat South Rowan 42-39 in 2003.
It was little consolation to Pinyan.
After Travis Byrd scored the first touchdown of the game against West, Pinyan thought there would be a lot of emotion. There wasn’t. Just confidence.
“I really felt like our kids thought they were the better football team,” he said.
MCCAIN IN PAIN: Salisbury’s top defensive back Tion McCain is out indefinitely with an injured knee. He didn’t play at all in the second half against West and was to have an MRI this week. He won’t play against South Rowan on Friday.
“It’s day-to-day for a couple of weeks,” Pinyan said on Tuesday. “We’ll see how he heals up. There’s a lot of fluid on it right now.”
McCain, who had an interception, is one of Pinyan’s most important players.
“That’s a big difference when you take somebody like that out of our secondary,” Pinyan said. “We can put somebody in but you can’t fully replace him.”
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Salisbury’s offensive player of the week was Dominique Dismuke. The special teams player was Byrd. The defensive player of the week was linebacker Kavari Hillie, who played one of the best game of his career.
“If you can play any better than Kavari Hillie, played, I don’t think it’s physically possible,” Pinyan said.
NO MORE STREAK: Pinyan chuckled when asked about Salisbury’s county-best 12-game winning streak ending Friday.
“I don’t think 12 games constitutes a streak,” he smiled. “If you win 25 or more — that’s a streak.”
UPBEAT: Don’t worry about the Hornets. They’ll be as confident as ever when they suit up Friday at home.
“All of our kids are fine,” Pinyan said. “Even though we didn’t win, we’ll take something from the game and get better.”
If North’s going to have any shot at beating University Christian, winning the turnover battle will be critical. Fortunately, that’s something it’s done well so far.
The Cavaliers have forced 12 fumbles already this year and recovered 10. Senior Jake Becker leads the county with three recoveries, his latest coming against East.
“If we hit hard, the ball will pop out sometimes,” North coach Tasker Fleming said. “I think our defense has given a great effort in all three games.”
North had two interceptions against East, one of which was a pick 6 from Malik Ford.
OFFENSE: Running back Malik Jones led the North rushing attack with 71 yards on 13 carries. His longest run was a 16-yard dash in the fourth quarter right before the Cavs’ final offensive score. The Cavs totaled 195 yards rushing against East, more than their first two games combined.
PENALITIES: The penalty bug bit North again Friday as it gathered 135 penalty yards after amassing 80 the previous week against Salisbury.
Ricky Sherrill thundered for 120 yards in a 34-11 loss to Northwest Cabarrus on Saturday morning.
He won’t be thundering on Friday, however.
South coach Jason Rollins reports that due to disciplinary reasons, Sherrill will not be on the field Friday against Salisbury.
It’s a big loss for the Raiders. The Northwest game was the second 100-yard game of the season for the junior, who had a 100-yard game (vs. West Iredell) as a sophomore.
Sherrill had one varsity carry for 9 yards as a freshman and accumulated 635 rushing yards in 2010.
He now has 968 yards for his career and should top 1,000 this Friday at Salisbury.
Darius Beaty (2003-05) holds the school career rushing record with 3,037 yards. Other Raiders who rank high on the school’s all-time list are Greg Poole (1976-78, 2,772), Michael Ramseur (1979-81, 2,720) and D’Andre Harris (2006-09, 2,424).
BETANCOURT’S BOOT: Sherrill was good early, leading South on a 14-play drive that ended with Abel Betancourt’s 28-yard field goal.
Rollins has a lot of faith in Betancourt, his junior kicker, although South hasn’t needed him in the first two games.
“When we were driving, 99 percent of the time, we were getting in the end zone,” Rollins said. “We hadn’t been in a situation where we needed to kick a field goal. But (Betancourt) is actually very good. I’ve seen him kick them from 50 yards. The kid’s got a leg.”
GREAT SCOTT: Gaining praise from Rollins was Scotty Magnuson.
“He was able to step up,” Rollins said of the 215-pound senior, who played noseguard and on the line.
IMPROVEMENT: South junior Nathan Lambert completed just two TD passes all last season. He had three in the first two games of 2011.
Lambert has thrown for 487 yards in three games. He had 327 for his entire sophomore season.
CHALLENGER: South’s single-season receiving record was set in 1994 by Adrian Parker, who was catching passes from Kevin Sides, with 949 yards.
Parker’s total was aided by a big playoff game at Scotland County.
Tight end Josh Medlin has 276 yards in receptions after three games this season, a pace that would give him 920 if South plays only its 10 scheduled games. A playoff game — or two — might make the difference.
DOWNWARD TREND: South still holds a 20-9 all-time edge against Northwest Cabarrus, but the Trojans have won the last three.
South has slipped to 257-280-8 all-time, after being at .500 after the 2004 campaign.
South is 24-47 since the start of the 2005 season.
With the weather-related postponements and likely cancellation of the road game at Hickory Ridge, Carson appears destined to join East Rowan and South Rowan with 10-game schedules this season.
With the 2011 season condensed by a calendar week from previous years, there’s just not much window for makeup dates.
Football teams switched from 10 to 11-game seasons in 1993, playing an endowment game that didn’t count in the standings or stats in 1993, before progressing to an official 11-game slate in 1994.
County teams have played 11-game regular seasons since the 1994 season.
Obviously, playing 10 games instead of 11 greatly reduces the possibility of breaking individual or team school records.
But don’t rule the game out just yet. On Wednesday, Carson athletic director texted that the Cougars and Ragin’ Bulls are still trying to work something out.
Calvin Edwards scored East’s first touchdown of the season on fourth-and-goal from the two early in the second quarter. Although aided by five penalties on North, it capped the most cohesive drive of the year for the Mustangs. East went 41 yards on 11 plays, but dominated possession, only allowing North three plays from scrimmage and a punt in the first quarter.
“The first half, we played well,” East coach Chad Tedder said. “Our offense moved the ball down the field.”
LIGHTNING DELAY: The game started an hour late due to recurring lightning strikes around the area. Players warmed up on the field until about 7:30 before heading back to the locker room.
“They were ticked off,” said Tedder of his players. “They were ready to play.”
A strong game by quarterback Brandon Eppinger and one extremely effective halfback pass by Damien Washington gave A.L. Brown 258 passing yards on Friday.
It was the most prolific aerial game for the Wonders since Jonathan Efird threw for 265 yards in a 19-14 playoff loss to Charlotte Catholic that ended the 2007 season.
“We passed the ball well,” coach Mike Newsome said. “It was just a matter of getting the timing down between the quarterback, the offensive line and the receivers.”
1-2 PUNCH: While Brown beat Rocky River 35-14, with relative ease, Rocky River’s Ravens did shut down Washington’s rushing attempts, limiting him to 21 yards on five carries.
Brown coach Mike Newsome had anticipated a defense stacked to stop Washington, who had run amok in Brown’s first two games.
Washington usually lined up as a receiver (he caught one TD pass), while Kalif Phillips was entrusted with the rushing load. Phillips responded with 10 carries for 74 yards in the first half and scored the TDs that pushed 14-7 lead to 28-7.
AMAYA-MAZING: Returning from a concussion, Erik Amaya went 5-for-5 on PATs against Rocky River.
LITTLE BROTHER: UNC Pembroke’s T.J. Johnson had a terrific pass-catching career at Brown, and his little brother — better make that his younger brother — “Neon” Keeon Johnson carries on.
Johnson, who had 28 catches for 406 yards and six TDs as a varsity sophomore, enjoyed the biggest game of his career on Friday with five catches for 112 yards and two scores.
He caught a 42-yard scoring strike from Eppinger and a 37-yard pass from Washington that opened the game.
“In practice, our passing game works perfectly,” Johnson said. “It was good to see it work in a game tonight.”
DEFENSE: Brown’s offense has made most of the noise so far, but the Wonders’ defense has done its share.
Brown has allowed just one first-half score in its three victories.
“They’ve bowed their necks pretty good when they’ve had to,” Newsome said. “I’m very proud of how our defense has played.”
That defense will be tested Friday by Porter Ridge QB Lee McNeill. The Pirates have put up 55, 63 and 59 points in three blowout wins.
Kip Miller is a well-known restaurant owner in Mocksville. Now he can say his son is a “Kip off the ol’ block.”
Mitchell Miller, who didn’t even play last year, got the ball rolling for the War Eagles in a 24-10 win by latching on to an Adam Smith pass and streaking 20 yards for a score.
“We’ve been best friends since we were in about the first grade,” Smith said. “It benefits really well when your best friend is one of your receivers.”
SMOOT SCOOTS: Stephon Smoot’s 181 yards rushing was the most by a Davie back in 38 games. Skeeter Montgomery had 205 against Providence Day in 2008.
INJURED: Davie will play without Tyler Correll when the War Eagles play host Lexington on Friday. Correll, a junior lineman, is out for the year after a fracture of the distal femur bone in the season opener.
Ronnie Gallagher, Mike London, Ryan Bisesi and Brian Pitts contributed to the notebook.
By Mike London firstname.lastname@example.org The Catawba notebook … SALISBURY — Catawba lost 30-5 to St. Augustine’s in Saturday’s opener, with... read more