Friday Night Hero: South Rowan's Josh Medlin
By Ronnie Gallagher
LANDIS — In Josh Medlin’s mind, all South Rowan needed was a victory to get the Raiders untracked.
South got it last week in a 14-7 win at North Iredell and he made two major plays that helped seal the first win after six losses.
Medlin intercepted a pass in the end zone late in the second quarter to thwart a North Iredell drive and then made his only catch, an 11-yarder, on the game-winning drive late in the fourth.
“We knew we could win, but the score shouldn’t have been 14-7,” Medlin admitted afterward. “We should’ve put more points on the board. But it will help us work harder.”
Nobody on the Raider side is working harder than Medlin these days. Although South coach Jason Rollins doesn’t like to do it, he had the 6-foot-2, 185-pound athlete going both ways against North Iredell.
Medlin made Rollins look like a genius.
First, the defense.
Medlin, who came into the season as a defensive end, has been switched to linebacker.
“Some of the things we’re trying to do defensively, Josh has enough speed that he can read and do some things,” Rollins said.
Medlin was put to the test as the first-half clock ran down. The score was tied at 7 and North Iredell was driving.
“They were getting the ball at the start of the second half,” Rollins said. “The ultimate goal for them was to put the hammer down. They were moving it and throwing it well.”
South’s coaching staff noticed North was running a couple of plays to perfection so Rollins told Medlin to lock down on a certain receiver.
“We were yelling to Josh, ‘Stay with him!’ ” Rollins said. “We told him, ‘If he drops and does 10 push-ups, you drop and do 10 pushups.’ ”
Medlin realized it was a wheel route.
“The guy took off and I thought I got beat,” he said.
That’s when Medlin’s athleticism took over. He made up ground and snagged the ball for an interception.
“He played it as well as anyone has all year,” Rollins praised.
Then, it was time for some Medlin offense.
It was still 7-7 when South began the 83-yard drive that eventually won the game. Medlin, a tight end, had not caught a ball all night long, something unusual for the county’s leading receiver coming in (19 catches, 430 yards, 3 touchdowns).
Other teams, including North Iredell, know his totals and the Raiders from Olin locked down on him.
“They were keying on him,” Rollins said. “But we can put it in other people’s hands pretty quick.”
Quarterback Nathan Lambert had already proven that, hitting six different Raiders.
But he was also under heavy pressure the entire night. South needed a big first down and Lambert went to his bread and butter. Medlin made an 11-yard grab that kept the drive going.
“I felt pretty good about that,” Medlin said.
South coaches feel pretty good about Medlin, too. Rollins is starting to get mail from colleges interested in his star junior.
“To me, he looks like a solid tight end for college,” Rollins said. “But he’s pretty solid on defense, too. He loves to tackle.”
And as North Iredell will tell you, Medlin makes big plays on both sides of the ball — just when his team needs him the most.