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Prep Football: A.L. Brown 65, Central Cabarrus 0

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS — A.L. Brown came up short in at least one department at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Any Wonder who records five sacks in a game — a tall order — is rewarded with a steak dinner.
Shakil Gore, a 200-pound junior defensive end with tailback wheels, could almost taste a medium ribeye, but he sat down early and settled for four sacks in a 65-0 pummeling of overmatched SPC foe Central Cabarrus.
“They kept trying to roll the quarterback to his side, and Gore would shed his block and run him down every time,” 6-foot-4 defensive end Darius Rice explained.
At one point, the Vikings grew sick and tired of being sacked by Gore and attempted a field goal. Naturally, he blocked it. That’s got to be worth a baked potato.
“Rice got a big ol’ push upfront on that field goal,” Gore said with a gleam in his eyes. “I saw the gap and shot right in there.”
Brown’s offense did whatever it wanted, while the Wonders’ defense registered back-to-back shutouts for the first time since South Rowan and Mount Pleasant were blanked by the guys in green very early in the 2006 season.
“I paid extra close attention to film study this week, and that helped me,” Gore said. “It helped us get a shutout. A shutout is the goal every week.”
Central (2-3, 0-2) barely managed positive rushing yards and had only one meaningful pass completion.
Jamar Clemons broke up everything thrown in his direction, and the Vikings’ first five rushing plays went backwards, courtesy of Wonders such as Rice, Gore, Gerald Holt and John Bass.
“Gore played about as good a game tonight as I’ve ever seen any defensive lineman play,” praised Holt, one of the team captains.
The Wonders had only 15 offensive snaps in the first half but six went for touchdowns. There was an 80-yard dash by Kalif Phillips; a 68-yard bomb from Brandon Eppinger to wide-open Keeon Johnson; and a 65-yard TD on a screen on which Phillips sprinted past dazed Vikings in the closing seconds of the half.
Phillips, who had all of his 111 rushing yards in the first half, and Keenan Medley finished with three TDs apiece. Xavier Stanback caught the first of Eppinger’s three scoring passes.
Eppinger, who wasn’t sacked, had an off-the-charts QB rating. His six throws resulted in five completions, 215 yards and three TDs. His lone incompletion was a drop on a short flip to a back.
“Brandon’s getting better and better,” head coach Mike Newsome praised. “We really wanted to do a lot more in the passing game tonight, work on some different things. But the score being what it was, we really couldn’t do that.”
The field was beyond soggy. Additional rain fell Saturday in Kannapolis, making conditions even worse than they would have been had the teams played as scheduled on Friday.
“I want to be a weatherman,” Newsome quipped. “They’re the only ones I know who can keep being wrong and still keep their jobs.”
Newsome was pleased with the job the Wonders (5-1, 2-0) did as they continue to regroup from a lopsided loss at Porter Ridge in which they didn’t play well and were facing an excellent 4A team clicking on all cylinders.
“You’re always concerned when you play a game on a day when the kids didn’t go to school, but I thought we probably had the best focus for this game that we’ve had all year,” Newsome said.
The Wonders are now 23-0 lifetime against Central, but they prepared for the Vikings as diligently as if they hadn’t beaten them in 10 years.
“This is not usually one of our tough games, but our mental preparedness was very good,” Holt said. “We played the way we needed to play and the way we wanted to play.”
Holt had a fumble return TD after halftime. Medley broke loose twice, and R.J. Gill made it 65-0 when he scooted for a score with 5:54 left.
It would’ve been much worse than 65-0 had a running clock not been used in the second half and if Newsome didn’t have a merciful heart.
Brown’s jayvee QB Andrew Ramirez took a knee four consecutive times late in the game after the Wonders had first-and-goal at the 4.

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