Prep Football: The Notebook, Week 10
From staff reports
West Rowan’s pass defense is generally viewed as the team’s weak link — a belief that has persisted since Davie threw for 371 yards against the Falcons early — but the DBs came through against Carson, for the most part.
One of the big plays of the game came early in the second half with Carson trailing 27-14 and facing fourth-and-5 at the West 39.
Carson couldn’t run the ball all night, so no rocket scientists were required to figure out QB Austin McNeill was going to try to throw to K.J. Pressley on the edge, where the Cougars had been having some success.
The ball was indeed thrown downfield toward Pressley on the sideline, but West’s Harvey Landy and Trey Cuthbertson had tight double-coverage and stopped the play.
West coach Scott Young also praised the tackling efforts of his DBs in run support. Cuthbertson had six stops and an interception.
SENIOR NIGHT: Young did his best to get his senior reserves extra playing time early on “Senior Night.”
Some of those well-intentioned plans worked out — some didn’t. One that did was a catch by senior Jockaile Burnside on the game’s first snap. Burnside got his first career reception for 6 yards.
MR. MILLER: With linemen Hunter Mashburn and Mike Norman having big games, tailback Dinkin Miller chewed up Carson in the first half for 129 rushing yards and finished with 151.
Miller has rushed for 100-plus yards eight straight games. He has 17 100-yard games in his career, with his career-best 211 coming in the 2010 3A state championship game.
Miller, who also had a nice pass reception to set up a TDo n Friday, headed to Coastal Carolina on a recruiting visit on Saturday.
PINBALL WIZARD: Banging off one would-be tackler after another, West QB Zay Laster powered for the finest run of his career against Carson — a 59-yard dash for a clinching touchdown with just under five minutes left.
It was 30-14 when Laster made his physical sprint to the end zone.
Laster had accuracy issues in the second half — 0-for-5 passing — but he played with a ton of confidence, especially when West was going no-huddle and very uptempo in the first half.
People have been wondering all year if Laster is a good enough QB to lead West to another state title.
In a word — yes.
With that defensive line and Miller — yes.
DEFENSE: McNeill lost 29 yards on sacks to negate most of Carson’s slim positive rushing yardage.
Maurice Warren, Trey Shepherd, Logan Stoodley, Troy Culbertson and Teoz Mauney were among the Falcons who contributed sacks or tackles for loss.
Demetrius Davidson added one of the hits of the night with a blowup on a Carson kickoff return.
THEY DID IT AGAIN: West pulled off yet another faked punt on Friday, collecting a first down, even though it’s almost an automatic call for the Falcons if they’re facing fourth-and-reasonable around midfield.
Carrying on the fine tradition of Brandon Bailey, Eric Cowan, AustinGreenwood and other upmen, C.J. Ellis has executed on the play so well that he’s threatening to surpass 100 rushing yards this season. He has six carries for 88 yards, including runs of 27 and 35. He’s 5-for-6 on successful fakes.
ALWAYS OPEN: Tight end Louis Kraft has five career catches — and four touchdowns. That’s a decent percentage.
The go-ahead touchdown that Thomasville scored with 22 seconds left was followed by a nearly five-minute discussion among the referees after the Bulldogs were hit with a sideline infraction during the play.
Salsibury coach Joe Pinyan intially thought the rule dicated that the touchdown be nullified and the penalty be marked back from Thomasville’s 20-yard line.
Pinyan contacted the N.C. High School Athletic Associaton offices to inquire about the call, which was deemed correct.
“In college, if you taunt or you have unsportsmanlike conduct before you get into the end zone, it’s marked from that point back,” Pinyan said. “In High School, if its an unsportsmanlike foul, you mark it from the next succeeding point, which would have been on the kickoff. They were exactly right.”
It was the second sideline penalty on Thomasville during the game, leading to coach Allen Brown being ejected.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Linebacker Keion Adams was the Salisbury defensive player of the week and quarterback Brian Bauk was the Hornet offensive player of the week.
Bauk threw for 105 yards and ran for 65.
“Brian checked us into some plays and made good decisions,” Pinyan said.
RUSHING HORNETS: Justin Ruffin has the Salisbury lead in rushing with 823 yards for the season. Dominique Dismuke, the team leader with 16 rushing touchdowns, has 766 yards while Bauk has 779 for the year.
LOOKING OUT FOR MOM: Joe Pinyan’s mother took a spill before the game in the Cushwa Stadium grandstand and had to be taken to the hospital. The fall resulted in bruises in her leg and shoulder. She returned for the latter part of the game and Pinyan made sure to check on her before talking to the media.
“She’s tough,” Pinyan said. “She raised me. That’s where I get tough and stubborn from.”
Carson got off to a great start against West Rowan on Friday, getting an interception by D.J. Love on West’s third snap, then moving 60 yards on four plays to take a 7-0 lead.
Carson’s early punch-in-the-mouth included McNeill’s 25-yard completion to Pressley and McNeill’s 28-yard toss to Pressley for the touchdown.
West did better against Pressley as the night wore on, but the 6-foot-2 junior still had five catches for 86 yards.
The TD catch was his 10th.
“Pressley was the best receiver on the field tonight,” said West’s Young, whose own guy, Jarvis Morgan, is battling Pressley for county receiving laurels.
McNeill also threw a TD pass to Darius Gardner. The sophomore has 13 TD throws this season and is tied for the county lead.
FIELD POSITION: West DB Cuthbertson’s punt return skills were a major factor in West’s 44-14 win over the Cougars, even though Carson refused to kick it to him.
“On film, we’d watched them run back four or five punts for touchdowns,” Carson coach Mark Woody explained. “They’ve just been flat knocking people out with their return game, so the plan was to punt out of bounds.”
Unfortunately for the Cougars, the execution wasn’t there on the punts. They went out of bounds, all right, but only a short distance — or no distance — upfield. Carson had disastrous punts of 5, 10 and 0 yards, and giving West very short fields to work with helped the Falcons blow a competitive game wide open.
“Field position just killed us,” Carson safety Zach Blythe said.
CLOSER THAN IT SOUNDS: Carson’s defense dominated the third quarter.
The score stayed 27-14 throughout the quarter, as Carson’s defense stoned three straight West possessions. The Cougars were finally able to slow down Miller by committing safeties Connor Bridges and Blythe to stopping the run.
Even when a Carson punting mishap gave the Falcons first-and-goal at the Carson 5 early in the fourth quarter, the Cougars forced them to settle for Hobie Proctor’s fourth field goal of the year.
“Carson played really well, and the score isn’t indicative,” Young said. “Third quarter? They won it.”
DIDN’T WORK OUT: Woody got criticism for what appeared to be a high-risk onsides kick late in the first half. West recovered the ball and used that gift field position to score a pivotal touchdown in the final seconds of the half.
But Woody wasn’t looking for an onsides kick. The call was for a squib kick down the field, but the execution just wasn’t there.
Jake Becker missed several games with an injury, but he’s been a fumble-recovery machine the same way Javon Hargrave was the past two seasons.
Becker pounced on his fifth in Friday’s 38-7 loss to West Montgomery and is the county leader in that department. Becker has five of North’s 17 recoveries.
RIGHT AT HOME: Track star and receiver-turned-tailback Johnny Oglesby managed 71 rushing yards in 16 carries on Friday. He has 190 yards in two games as the team’s primary tailback.
ALLEN TOWN: It took a while, but T.J. Allen enjoyed his first 100-yard passing game of the season on Friday. He was 9-for-16 for 120 yards, including a scoring pass to Tydler Watlington, who pulled in his third TD aerial of the year.
Allen produced eight 100-yard games in 2010 when the Cavaliers were more pass-oriented, including a 207-yard effort against Lexington.
WILL POWER: He doesn’t get a lot of attention, but Will Robertson, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound lineman, has been noticed by a lot of opposing coaches.
Just about every coach who has encountered North has had something nice to say about Robertson.
South has waited two weeks to play and the season finale at Statesville has meaning.
Quarterback Nathan Lambert is just 16 yards from breaking Charles Sherrill passing record for a season. Lambert has 1,577 yards going in.
WE’RE READY: South coach Jason Rollins says his team is pumped up to play despite a one-win season. The Raiders face the talented second-place Greyhounds.
“I’ve been watching them,” said Rollins, who reports his team is looking forward to hitting the field.
Junior running back Kalif Phillips has become such a dominant player (16 rushing TDs, seven receiving TDs) that it’s an upset when he doesn’t win one of the team’s player of the week awards.
Phillips was the offensive player of the week for his 191 rushing yards and four TDs in a 44-7 romp against Northwest Cabarrus and he also was named “Hitman of the Week” for carrying a Northwest defender 5 yards into the end zone.
Wonder coaches joked that Phillips should’ve won all five weekly honors.
Center Phillip Halstenberg was named “Hawg of the Week,” but O-line coach Todd Hagler chimed in that Phillips’ pancake of a defender while blocking on the edge on a running play made him worthy of consideration.
Erik Amaya, who boomed a 43-yard field goal and nailed five PATs, nipped Phillips for special teams honors. All Phillips did was block a punt for the second straight week.
The defensive player of the week was interior lineman Gerald Holt. Phillips would make a heck of a safety, but the Wonders like what he’s doing on offense.
MORRIS UPDATE: Hunter Morris, the starting center and deep snapper who broke a leg before the season started, could return in time to do some snapping on PATs and field goals in the playoffs.
BELL BATTLE: Concord’s tall QB B.J. Beecher — he’s 6-foot-6, 6-7 or 6-8 depending on whom you ask — will present unique problems for the Wonders on Friday night.
“The thing that makes him so good is he gets rid of the ball so quickly,” Brown defensive coordinator Noah Lyon said. “We didn’t sack him at all last year, and I think we only hit him once. If you’d told me we could beat them without a single sack, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
Concord’s offensive line is a lot less experienced this year. That could be a factor against a powerful A.L. Brown defensive front.
Few teams are better than Davie (6-3) when it comes to taking what the defense gives. Davie can be a throw-it-around or a smashmouth team depending on how an opponent lines up.
Mount Tabor shut down Davie’s passing game two weeks ago, but that left the Spartans vulnerable to the run and QB Adam Smith accounted for 191 of Davie’s 325 rushing yards.
Reagan took the opposite approach last Friday, bringing both safeties into the box to stop Smith and Stephon Smoot from running the ball.
Reagan stifled the run, but Smith threw for 298 yards and tied the school record with four TD passes in a 28-17 victory.
Davie has rushed for 200-plus yards four times and has passed for 150 or more five times.
Davie’s passing high was 371 yards against West Rowan. Its biggest rushing game was 340 against R.J. Reynolds.
TITLE HOPES: Mount Tabor’s stunning upset loss to West Forsyth last week moved Davie right back into the Central Piedmont Conference title picture.
The War Eagles’ road game at North Davidson tomorrow is now for at least a share of the league title.
Davie has a great rivalry with North Davidson (the Black Knights lead the series 22-21), and there’s no better time than Halloween weekend for two black-and-orange teams to go at it.
Ronnie Gallagher, Mike London, Ryan Bisesi and Brian Pitts contributed to the notebook.