Prep Football: North Rowan welcomes Nixon
By Ryan Bisesi
SPENCER — New North Rowan coach Joe Nixon hopes to import a lot over from West Rowan where he was an assistant for eight seasons.
Elements like wins, championships, bravado and character were all in his duffle bag making the trip to the other side of the county.
Maybe he should have carried a few extra helmets with him.
North brought out 67 prospective players on Monday, trying to develop a depth rarely seen at the 1A level. A couple guys didn’t have headgear as they ran out onto the baseball field to begin workouts. However, everyone did have team compression shirts with “family” written across the back, a point Nixon references from Walt Baker Fieldhouse.
“It’s more important than any one individual does,” Nixon said. “We want to buy into being a North Rowan Cavalier.”
Nixon, who helped WR win three consecutive state titles and get to four straight championship games, is donning Cavalier colors, but he’s anything but green. The presence of Nixon, a former All-SAC lineman at Catawba, has brought a renewed vigor to the program and the proof is in the numbers.
“We felt like we could get enough players here that we didn’t have to play both ways,” Nixon said. “In the fourth quarter, if we can eliminate a kid from playing 80 plays to 40 plays, he’ll be a lot fresher.”
After a 4-8 season, Nixon’s surfacing in Spencer gives North fans hope for a turnaround. The Catawba alum was considered one of the more respected offensive coordinators in the state before replacing Tasker Fleming in January.
“As a staff. we couldn’t be more pleased with what our kids are doing so far,” Nixon said. “We feel like they’re trying to buy into our program and learn our system.”
On offense, The Cavs’ skill players are young. No one’s a senior but they’ll have to grow up quick and learn multiple formations and concepts that Nixon is implementing.
“We want to be give the defensive different formations and make them prepare for different things,” Nixon said. “I think we’ve got some athletes that are good on the perimeter and we’ve got to get them the football.”
Defensively, North will try to repeat the formula of its wins last year as it collected a pair of shutouts, a 60-0 win against North Moore and a 22-0 triumph against South Davidson.
Alexis Archie, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound sophomore, piggybacked Nixon over from West and is penciled in to start at quarterback. Archie was the jayvee QB last year as a Falcon.
Senior Will Robertson, a state championship wrestler, is a returning All-County and All-Conference player on the offensive line at left tackle.
“We need [Robertson] to be a leader for us on offense because we are so young,” Nixon said.
Sophomore Jareke Chambers and freshman Jalen Sanders are options at tailback and receivers Mike Connor are expected to make an impact.
“They’re young but we need them to come along and play for us right now,” Nixon said.
Xavier Robinson was North’s second-leading rusher in 2011 and was participating in linebacker drills with assistant Josh Sophia.
Nixon played with new defensive coordinator Stevie Williams at Catawba. Williams comes over from West after helping mold current Arkansas linebacker Chris Smith. Offensive coordinator Ben Hampton is over from Carson.
North is at Carson in the season-opener on Aug. 17. The Cougars beat North 16-6 last year in Spencer.
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