2011 All-County Football: The awards the athletic banquets may have forgotten

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 23, 2011

Rarely do games that are built up beyond comparison work out the way you want.
But on Sept. 2, we were treated to the Game of the Year: defending 3A champ West Rowan at defending 2AA champ Salisbury.
Salisbury took care of the hype beforehand. The Hornets were the undefeated team at 2-0 going against West, which was 1-1, having its 46-game win streak dumped in the opener.
The Hornets barked about bringing the bang-bang. West said nothing.
Until after the game, a pulsating 37-28 win that had the packed house standing most of the night:
• “We came here to win and we made a statement,” West offensive lineman Mike Norman nodded.
• “We had to come out and prove a point — that we’re still the best,” said defensive lineman Greg Dixon.
The lines dominated this game, especially on defense, where they sacked, whacked and smacked Hornet quarterback Brian Bauk.
“Anytime we threw a pass, it endangered Brian’s life,” Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan would say later.
I’ll never forget the look on West coach Scott Young’s face afterward as he stood on the field among the horde of Falcon faithful, holding his little baby. It was a look that said, “Uh-huh, anyone want to talk now?”
Young said, “There were many doubters out there. We heard them. We got ears.”
Those doubters motivated the Falcons to show what champions are made of.
It made that Friday night the most exciting of the year.

The Game of the Year is just one of the awards we’re giving out that the athletic banquets may have forgotten. Here are some others:
Best 12 minutes of the Year: In that same West-Salisbury game, it was 14-10 after three quarters. In the fourth, the teams combined for 41 points.
The Photo of the Year: The Post’s photographer extrordinaire Jon C. Lakey caught Carson’s Dontae Gilbert making an unbelievable leaping interception in a loss to Robinson.
Performance of the Year: Salisbury fullback Max Allen ran for 294 yards in a playoff win over Carver.
He … could … go … all … the … way: The longest scores were a 90-yard kickoff return against Davie by West Rowan’s C.J. Ellis and a 90-yard fumble return for a score against Central Davidson by Salisbury’s B.J. Woods.
This season, there were three TDs of over 80 yards, six of more than 70, nine of 60 or more and 13 of 50 yards or better. Which leads us to …
The Most Exciting Player: Jarvis Morgan. The West Rowan receiver had scores of 82, 71, 51 and 56 yards. Which leads us to …
Best 1-2 Punch: Morgan and quarterback Zay Laster hooked up for four touchdowns — all in the first half — in a 54-7 win over East Rowan.
Diaper Dandy Award: The best freshman was Carson back Brandon Sloop, who went from beating up Corriher-Lipe and Southeast Middle School to several 100-yard rushing games against college prospects.
Mismatch of the Year: Salisbury’s 56-0 win over Winston-Salem Atkins that could’ve been a lot worse.
The Rolaids Award: How do you spell relief? East Rowan’s senior quarterback Jonathan Lowe replaced an injured Noah Drye and had runs of 35 and 21 yards in the clinching drive that beat South Rowan for the Mustangs’ only win.
Runnerup: With Allen out with an injury, defensive back DeJoun Jones came over to the other side of the ball against West Davidson. All he did was run for 134 yards in a 59-0 Salisbury win.
The John Madden Team: Getting their uniform dirty every week on defense were Carson’s Jeremiah Smith, North’s Jake Becker, West’s Trey Shepherd and Salisbury’s Kavari Hillie. Which brings us to …
The Quote of the Year: “If Kavari’s hits were rated R, you wouldn’t let your children watch.”
— Pinyan on linebacker and defensive player of the year Hillie.
Strange But True Football Story: A talented — but young — Carson team didn’t make the playoffs.
All-Name Team: South’s Rell Howie, West’s Hobie Proctor, North’s Pierre Givens.
Top Newcomer: No one ever heard of Becker when he transferred from Lake Norman to North Rowan. But Jake from the Lake led the county in fumble recoveries.
Welcome to the Club, Ma’am: To the new wife of Carson assistant Andre Neely, who became a football wife during the season.
Bad Stat of the Year: North Rowan was shut out in the second half three times.
Our Favorite Number: That would be No. 8, which was worn by Offensive Player of the Year Dinkin Miller of West, Salisbury’s Allen, Carson’s Gilbert, East’s Kyler Brown, South’s Eric Tyler and North’s Givens, all of whom found the end zone at some point.
The Snakebit Team of the Year: South Rowan against Central Cabarrus. With 10:37 left in the third quarter, Brandon Williams scored on a 75-yard pass play, bringing Raider fans to their feet. Thirteen seconds later, they were sitting again as Central ran back the ensuing kickoff for a score. South eventually lost 31-23.
Statement Game: No one gave West a chance against Burns in the Western 3A final. West won 33-7 to make its fourth straight state title game appearance.
He’s Special: Our Special Teams Player of the Year is West’s Trey Cuthbertson. Not only did he have a big interception against Burns, he ran back several punts for scores. He was the NPC Special Teams Player of the Year and was one of five players in North Carolina nominated for all-state kick returner.
And finally …
Most Photogenic: West’s Miller had his photo in the Post 35 times.
West’s Young led the coaches with 28.

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