2011 All County Football: The team
By Mike London
SALISBURY — By the numbers, there are 11 Falcons, nine Hornets, four Cougars, three Cavaliers, two Mustangs and two Raiders on the 2011 All-Rowan County team.
The lion’s share — 20 of 31 spots — went to either 3A runner-up West, which continued a 10-year-old county winning streak, or to Salisbury, which won 11 games and reached the third round of the 2A playoffs.
No complicated explanations are necessary. The other four county teams didn’t produce memorable seasons. It was 4-7, 4-8, 1-9 and 1-9.
This all-county team consists of 19 seniors, 11 juniors and one sophomore (North’s Xavier Robinson).
Only six non-seniors made a very experienced all-county squad in 2010. Five repeated, including the players of the year — Salisbury linebacker Kavari Hillie and West tailback Dinkin Miller.
Carson linebacker T.J. Smith, West linebacker Logan Stoodley and Salisbury halfback Dominique Dismuke were the other repeaters. The sixth returning all-county player, Salisbury DB Tion McCain, no doubt would’ve made it, but he was injured most of this season.
Every all-county team sparks debate, and this one will be no exception. The glaring flaw is only three offensive linemen are being honored, which means this collection of all-stars will use an illegal formation on every snap. On the positive side, we do have a kicker, a kick returner, a tight end, two fine wideouts and a well-balanced defensive unit.
We also have three quarterbacks, which sounds like a surplus, but no one can make a reasonable argument that South’s Nathan Lambert, Salisbury’s Brian Bauk and West’s Zay Laster weren’t among the county’s best 31.
Lambert broke school records. Bauk directed the most prolific offense — 41.1 points per game — in his school’s long history. Laster guided his team to the 3A state championship game.
The team, alphabetically from Allen to Warren.
Max Allen, Salisbury
5-9, 175, Junior fullback
Rushed for 1,128 yards and for almost 9 yards per carry. His 294 rushing yards against Winston-Salem Carver were the most ever by a Rowan back in a playoff game.
Brian Bauk, Salisbury
6-0, 175, Junior QB
Sure, baseball is his No. 1 sport, but he had a terrific season, rushing for 919 yards and accounting for 24 TDs (13 rushing, 11 passing).
Jake Becker, North
6-2, 210, Senior linebacker
A transfer from Lake Norman, Becker missed time with injuries and still led the county with six fumble recoveries. He made 112 tackles.
William Brown, Salisbury
6-3, 170, Senior “Hornet”
Salisbury smashed a Central Davidson team that had beaten Thomasville and Lexington, mostly because Brown was in on 20 tackles.
Troy Culbertson, West
6-2, 225, Senior linebacker
A versatile guy, he was used as both a defensive lineman and a linebacker.
His best game was the win at Reidsville in which the Falcons limited a team that won 12 games to 10 points.
Trey Cuthbertson, West
5-8, 165, Sr. kick returner
Picked off three passes, had four punt returns for TDs (two in one game) and gave West field position with his kickoff returns.
Dominique Dismuke, SHS
5-10, 195, Senior halfback
Scored 49 TDs in his career for the Hornets, including 23 this season. Finished fourth on the school’s career rushing list with 2,727 yards.
Greg Dixon, West
6-1, 270, Senior D-line
Often dominant, he had 17 sacks and earned NPC Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Dontae Gilbert, Carson
5-9, 160, Senior cornerback
The Cougars’ most explosive athlete, he intercepted four passes, including a 70-yard pick-6 against Robinson.
Helping out the offense occasionally, he threw two TD passes and caught one.
Madison Hedrick, East
5-6, 140, Junior safety
The smallest member of the all-county team, he had three fumble recoveries, was a fearless punt returner and was usually involved anytime something positive happened.
Kavari Hillie, Salisbury
5-10, 217, Senior linebacker
The Hornets shut out three foes and held seven to seven or fewer points. This guy was the main reason. He was the CCC Defensive Player of the Year.
Sam Humble, Salisbury
6-4, 225, Senior D-lineman
Probably a guy you hadn’t heard of when this season started, but Salisbury coaches will tell you that No. 99 was at the bottom of a lot of piles. In the playoff game against Carver, he was credited with seven QB hurries and knocked down a pass.
DeJoun Jones, Salisbury
5-11, 195, Senior CB
Probably a running back at heart, he sacrificed for the team the last two seasons to make Salisbury’s defense tougher. Made a huge interception in the Carver game.Nathan Lambert, South
6-1, 190, Junior quarterback
Passed for 1,792 yards in just 10 games to break the school record. His season passing yardage ranked 18th in county history.
Zay Laster, West
6-0, 200, Senior QB
Had the necessary intangibles to take West to the 3A title game, and his stats weren’t bad either. He rushed for 671 yards, passed for 1,231 and accounted for 27 touchdowns with his legs and left arm.
Tyler L’Hommedieu, East
5-11, 170, Junior linebacker
Undersized for his position but just about every opposing coach in the county pointed to this unsung guy as East’s best defensive player.
East’s defense had its moments, including a shutout of South Rowan for the Mustangs’ lone victory.
Hunter Mashburn, West
6-0, 230, Senior center
One of the reasons the Falcons piled up 4,188 rushing yards. Probably had his finest game in West’s dominating win at Burns, and he capped his career by playing in the Shrine Bowl.
Michael Mazur, Salisbury
5-9, 150, Senior kicker
Booming kickoffs, onside kickoffs, punts or placements. Whatever was needed, Mazur got the job done.
Salisbury only had to punt 16 times all year, but he stayed busy with 64 PATs and four field goals.
Josh Medlin, South
6-2, 185, Junior tight end
Exceptional athlete was needed on both sides of the ball by the Raiders, but he made his biggest impression as a standout pass-catcher. Finished with 35 catches for 668 yards and seven TDs.
Dinkin Miller, West
5-10, 180, Senior tailback
Put up one of the great seasons in county history.
Sure, 16-game seasons help pump up stats, but his production was undeniable. He reeled off 14 straight games of at least 100 yards, and on three occasions, he topped 200. He scored 26 touchdowns.
Jarvis Morgan, West
6-3, 180, Senior receiver
He accumulated 48 catches for 1,015 yards and 13 TDs and became only the third Falcon to rack up 1,000 receiving yards in a season.
Mike Norman, West
6-2, 280, Senior O-lineman
A big, strong and athletic tackle, he arguably was the county’s dominant offensive lineman. Might have been an All-State choice if West had won another 3A title.
K.J. Pressley, Carson
6-2, 170, Junior receiver
Formed quite a tandem with sophomore QB Austin McNeill and had 39 catches for 757 yards and 11 TDs.
Has 70 career catches and is likely to become just the ninth player in county history with 100 receptions.
Will Robertson, North
6-3, 240, Junior lineman
A two-way player, Roberson earned raves from every county coach who faced North or saw him on film. A county wrestling champ, he’s strong and tough.
Xavier Robinson, North
6-1, 190, Soph. linebacker
Robinson could play just about anywhere on the field. He blocked punts, and he made tackles. He also broke long runs when he helped out on offense.
When he was out a few weeks with a shoulder injury, North wasn’t the same team.
Justin Ruffin, Salisbury
5-9, 175, Junior halfback
He rushed 129 times for 1,138 yards — 8.8 yards per carry. He found the end zone 22 times, including seven TD receptions.
Trey Shepherd, West
6-1, 260, Junior D-lineman
He’ll be pretty terrifying next season after racking up 10 sacks this year.
Of all the Falcons, he may have played the best in this year’s championship game.
Jeremiah Smith, Carson
6-1, 270, Senior D-lineman
Another guy opposing coaches raved about. Game-in, game-out, he was the Cougars’ most consistent defensive presence.
T.J. Smith, Carson
6-2, 235, Senior linebacker
Racked up team-leading tackle numbers. He was in on 21 stops in a win against East Rowan and 17 when the Cougars beat North Rowan.
Logan Stoodley, West
6-1, 215, Junior linebacker
Expectations were high entering this season, and he delivered. He was West’s leading tackler with 172.
He also picked off three passes and returned one for a TD against Mount Pleasant in the playoffs.
Maurice Warren, West
6-3, 240, Senior D-lineman
The 6-3 part of his description is probably fudging a little, but he was a disruptive force and produced 10 sacks for a defense that shut out two opponents.