Prep football: South teams of 2000s to be honored
By Mike London
LANDIS ó South Rowanís final home football game against East Rowan on Friday will include a salute to the players from the 1999-2010 teams (the graduating classes of 2000-2011).
Former players will be recognized as part of Southís 50th anniversary celebration. See the South Rowan Alumni Association website for information.
Rick Vanhoy coached the teams of 1999-2005, with Vanhoyís former assistant Jason Rollins leading the team, beginning in 2006.
A few highlights:
One of the more amazing teams in South history recovered from a 1-7 start to win three in a row and qualify for the 4A playoffs. Standouts included RB Keith Garrett, LB Darryl Childers and lineman Brian Billings.
This was Vanhoyís strongest team, although it lost a drawing after a three-way tie for first place in the CPC and didnít get to participate in the state playoffs.
South (8-3) beat West Rowan in two overtimes and swept the county for the first time since 1964. Garrett led the county in rushing, and TorČ Girty also put up big numbers. Linebackers Jay ěLightningî Phillips and Joel ěThunderî Reyes sparked the defense.
South went 4-1 in the CPC to share the league title. When South beat McDowell in the first round, it marked the Raidersí first postseason triumph since 1983.
Southís defense, led by county player of the year Brad Lanning, Ricky Childers and Anthony Rhyne, produced a school-record 48 turnovers, including 27 picks.
Lanning, AKA the ěHit Man,î made nine interceptions and added another in the East-West All-Star Game.
South made the playoffs, but it was a mostly quiet 5-7 season (one of those five victories came well after the season when Greensboro Page forfeited its playoff win over the Raiders).
The highlight was William Van Wieren, a lineman, being named county offensive player of the year. He was the first offensive lineman to receive that honor.
Southís 7-6 season included a 37-36 overtime win against A.L. Brown opening night and another playoff win against McDowell.
Patrick Atwellís 100-yard interception return against West Charlotte in the second round of the playoffs would get votes as the greatest single play in South history.
The Raiders had one of the highest-scoring teams in school history. with QB Hoke Shirley, RB Antonio McDaniel and 48-minute man Keith Fuller, an electrifying 5-foot-9 guy who once was called for goaltending in a South hoops game.
A 5-7 season included Heath Houstonís four-interception night against North Davidson and 1,332 rushing yards by Darius Beaty.
The highlight of a 2-9 year was Beatyís 295 rushing yards in a 39-14 loss to West Forsyth. Thatís Southís single-game record. Beaty also set Southís career mark with 3,037 rushing yards.
Rollinsí first team opened the year by going 0-6 and allowing points by the bushel.
But it shocked the world with a 29-14 win at R.J. Reynolds in Week 7.
South was outscored 447-96 that season but still managed to win three games.
South was in 4A from the 1985-2006, but the opening of neighbor Carson led to a return to 3A by the Raiders in 2007. South (3-8) went 3-6 in the 10-team NPC and won the first matchup with Carson 35-7. LB Derek Davis led a good South defense.
Cadarreus Mason, Josh Wike and Reid Shaver led South to a 5-7 season and a first-round playoff appearance against Rollinsí alma mater ó South Point.
South had one of its best squads since the glory days and boasted the highest-scoring team in school history (35.6 points a game).
Although the Raiders fell in the first round of the 3A playoffs, a 9-3 season included wins against Salisbury, A.L. Brown, Statesville and West Iredell.
Throwing primarily to B.J. Grant, QB Blake Houston broke the school records for career total offense (4,188 yards) and career passing yards (2,973).
South went 2-9 despite a tremendous all-round season by Mark McDaniel. He scored 17 touchdowns.
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