Friday Night Hero:North Rowan's Johnny Oglesby
By Ryan Bisesi
SPENCER — Whether figuratively or literally, Johnny Oglesby has jumped a lot of hurdles.
So being told he would be the starting running back two days before North Rowan’s YVC date with Chatham Central was just a leap over the Sunday paper.
Oglesby, a state 1A champion in the long jump and 300-meter hurdles, has a unique athletic pedigree that makes him versatile. With leading rusher Xavier Robinson out with a separated shoulder he suffered against Albemarle, someone had to step up.
As long as he can hit somebody, Oglesby was more than happy.
“It’s all contact, that’s how I feel,” Oglesby said. “You’ve got to take contact regardless of where you play.”
Oglesby shuffled over from receiver Friday against Chatham Central and earned his most productive night of the year with 119 yards on 18 carries. Coming into the game, he had 10 carries for 121 yards for the season.
“We weren’t asking him to carry the team, but we needed him to fill that position,” North coach Tasker Fleming said. “It’s not easy to go nine weeks at one position and change to another one.”
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound senior showed flashes of brilliance in a 77-yard effort against East Montgomery, but had largely gone unnoticed in the running game until Friday.
He didn’t wait long to change that perception.
Oglesby broke off a 10-yard run on the first play from scrimmage with a 5-yard face mask penalty tacked on. To prove the first play wasn’t a fluke, Oglesby ran 34 yards on the next snap. When the night was done, he had nearly matched his season total in rushing yards going into the game.
“I just read my blocks and got through there,” Oglesby said.
Oglesby wasn’t notified until Wednesday that he’d be the starting back.
“I was excited about it, but I knew I had to go out there and do what I had to do for us to win the game,” Oglesby said.
With all the injury and discipline issues the Cavaliers have faced this year, Oglesby is one of several Cavs who have stepped into new roles. North had roughly 22 kids on the sideline against Chatham. Thanks to Friday’s success, he’s now morphed into a receiver/running back hybrid as Fleming told Oglesby he’d get some carries for the remainder of the year. With Robinson potentially back this week against West Montgomery, the Cavs may see as much depth at running back as they’ve had in a few weeks. Oglesby’s night opened things up for Denzel Price, who ran for 62 yards on five carries.
“As a freshman, he liked to go sideline-to-sideline and use his speed,” Fleming said. “Friday, he used the blocking in front of him and didn’t outrun his blocking.”
Price’s 35-yard touchdown run put North on the board in a big-play first quarter. Pierre Givens took a kickoff return 88 yards and gave the Cavs a 14-7 lead.
“We need depth,” Fleming said. “With some kids no longer in the program, our running back numbers are thin. Johnny will get some carries and he’ll also play some wideout. It gives us more depth at tailback.”
Oglesby hadn’t played football since his freshman year when he was a quarterback on the jayvee team. After a one-year stint at Lexington, he came back to North last year and made his claim on the track circuit. This year, it was time to rekindle the football fire.
“I felt I could help the team,” Oglesby said.
After Friday night, no one would argue that.