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Spring football: Carson

This is the third of six stories on spring football in Rowan County.
Today: Carson
By Ronnie Gallagher
rgallagher@salisburypost.com
CHINA GROVE — Carson football coach Mark Woody was told recently things look pretty rosy on paper for his Cougars next fall.
He agreed.
“We have a lot of talent on paper,” said Woody, the only head football coach the school has ever known.
People thought the same thing before last season but strange things happened to the 3-8 Cougars:
• Austin McNeill throws the go-ahead touchdown pass late against Northwest Cabarrus, but he is called for crossing the line of scrimmage. 13-7 loss.
• Carson leads Robinson by 11 points at one point but the winless Bulldogs score 28 fourth-quarter points. 48-39 loss.
• Carson leads talented Statesville until a Greyhound TD pass with 6.9 seconds does in the Cougars. 22-16 loss.
Can’t predict that stuff on paper.
Predict this, though. The Cougars are hungry because of it.

Woody is having a camp this month. He had to wait because, “all my quarterbacks are in baseball and we have guys in track,” he said.
As the Cougars hit the field, they are bigger and stronger. Especially offensive lineman C.J. Cain, who has grown to 6-foot-4, 298 pounds. Woody reports that during a Shrine Bowl combine, Cain repped 185 pounds 26 times.
“Thinking about maybe moving him to (noseguard) on defense,” Woody mused.
Because he was one in college, Woody loves those offensive linemen, pointing out that Devon Peacock has overcome his ugly knee injury and is ready to go. T.J. Bell is back. And he loves guys like Bailey Mauldin and Henry Brown, who are coming off jayvee. The coach thinks they have a successful future, especially Brown.
“I’m going to tell you what,” Woody gushed of sophomore Brown. “He will get after you. I’m pretty sure he’ll be the center.”
Brown has grown to almost 200 pounds.
“He looks really good,” Woody said. “Real athletic. Tough. He can move.”
Brown, Peacock and that line will be blocking for some quality movers and shakers, who scored 223 points on offense. That includes McNeill, who passed for 1,239 yards and 15 scores last year as a sophomore. At 6-3, high-jumping, sure-handed K.J. Pressley has the potential to be the NPC’s best receiver. Greg Tonnesen came on as the tight end. Brandon Sloop just missed rushing for 1,000 yards (956) as a freshman. Travis Abbitt has speed and quickness and will be an NPC force if he can avoid those nagging injuries.
Defensively, Carson lost a lot of seniors but Woody still has Myquon Stout on the line. He’ll be a junior.
“Myquon’s a beast,” Woody exclaimed.

It might be time to mention next year’s sophomore, junior and senior classes. They are capable of championships in several sports.
But football season comes first to showcase their wares.
Another positive is that the Cougar players will see the same coaching staff. Woody’s assistants are as loyal to him as the players are. That’s why they’ve been working out through the winter months and not waiting until camp.
“We’ve had kids staying after school and going into the weight room doing individual stuff,” Woody said.
Individuals who can produce.
“We have a lot of people we have confidence in,” Woody said.
There’s a surge of talent coming through Carson right now. High school sports in China Grove are on an upswing.
Write that down on paper.
And stay tuned.

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