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Gallagher column: Roaming the county

Roaming the county getting ready for tonight …
The Post traveled to West Rowan on Tuesday to take basketball photos for next Wednesday’s special section.
We had to wait — on the football players who were still at practice.
To say these guys are all-around athletes is an understatement. Of the 14 players in the team photo, 10 will be suiting up in the blue uniforms tonight in the third round of the 3A state playoffs.
The opponent is the same as last year — the Concord Spiders.
That means B.J. Beecher, the 6-foot-7 quarterback, will be back in Mount Ulla. He’s a passing machine.
Last year, the defensive backfield was feared and it took care of things in a 48-28 West win. This year, the secondary has new faces.
Greg Dixon, who doesn’t play basketball, is a fierce defensive lineman. He was asked about the matchup. He knows what has to be done to stop Beecher.
“We watched a lot of film,” Dixon said. “We’re going to try and get pressure on him real quick. The defensive backs are going to cover a lot better and play tight all night.”
Dixon was straightforward and serious. He was complimentary of Concord. He was businesslike. Respectful of his foe.
When you’ve won three straight state championships and 56 of your last 58 games, you don’t talk trash. You talk strategy.
Teams that haven’t been there are usually the ones talking and then heading home. Champions like the Falcons are a class act because they let their feet run, not their mouths.

It’s good to be playing in the third round again, according to Dixon. He’s expecting the best the Spiders have. He knows they remember the loss last year.
“Because we beat them, they’re going to come out and play hard,” Dixon said.

Don’t expect Concord to be talking trash. Not with Glen Padgett as the coach. He won’t allow it.
Padgett will be the second former Rowan County coach to visit West in the playoffs. He is a former Salisbury Hornet head man.
In the first round, former East Rowan assistant Michael Johns brought his Mount Pleasant team over.

And just for the record, don’t pity Gurley for getting his football players late. Once they’re in the basketball uniforms, they win for him. Gurley, the master motivator, has coached his team to the Western Regionals two straight seasons.

And then, there’s the Salisbury Hornets, who are also in the third round. They’re going over to Thomasville, where they suffered their only CCC loss in weird fashion. An 80-yard scoring pass beat Joe Pinyan’s club in the final seconds.
Don’t forget, however, Salisbury drove to the 20-yard line with a tie score before fumbling for the seventh time, losing its fifth of the night.
Last week, the Hornets didn’t fumble and undefeated Starmount, the No. 1 seed, was ousted, 35-6.
What happens if Salisbury doesn’t fumble tonight? Stay tuned.

If Salisbury makes the Western final, it will be the third straight year. That’s quite a feat for any school. But the Hornets must win at Thomasville for the first time in 30 years to accomplish it.

A.L. Brown is also in the third round, and like West and Salisbury, the Wonders always expect to be here.
They have a daunting task. The Wonders go on the road to nemesis Charlotte Catholic. But like Gurley, Brown coach Mike Newsome is also a guy who can fire you up. Don’t count out the Wonders.

On the air tonight …
• Hall of Famer Howard Platt and Wilson Cherry will call the West Rowan game on WSTP 1490 AM.
• Lance, Glenn, Jeff, Johnny and the boys are headed to Thomasville to call Salisbury’s contest on WSAT 1280 AM.
• As always, WRKB 1460 AM will cover A.L. Brown.
Go to a game tonight, folks. And be nice.

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com.

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