Prep Football: East Rowan practice
This is the third of seven practice stories on area
Today: East Rowan
Saturday: North Rowan
By Ronnie Gallagher
GRANITE QUARRY — Jason Barnes knew he wanted to come to East Rowan when he was told to bring his wife to the interview.
“That right there hooked me,” Barnes grinned.
Barnes joins the staff of first-year coach Danny Misenheimer as the defensive coordinator. And he is ready to improve on a 1-9 season.
Barnes said the last few schools he coached were down near the bottom of the standings before he got there.
One of those teams was Burns, which was a power before being blown out by West Rowan last season in the Western final.
When Barnes got there, Burns was 1-9. The very next year, the Bulldogs were conference champs and an 11-game winner.
Barnes likes his new home at East.
“I find a lot of similarities between Rowan County and Cleveland County,” he said. “They have Crest, Shelby, Kings Mountain and Burns. Football is pretty rich down there. Here, you’ve got Salisbury and West Rowan and other schools that are up-and-coming.”
East could be one of those if Barnes can help construct another turnaround.
“We have some athletes,” he said, “some kids who are flying around. Hopefully, we’ll get them in the right places at the right times.”
Misenheimer is elated to have Barnes.
“We work well together and our kids are benefiting from that,” Misenheimer said.
DRYE GOODS: One guy in the right place is quarterback Noah Drye, a junior who stepped in as a starter late last season.
“That will help tremendously with my nerves,” he said of the experience.
There’s no doubt he is the offensive leader, running the veer.
“I’m expecting perfection out of myself,” Drye said. “I’m looking to lead the team. I’m not guaranteeing wins but I am guaranteeing that we’re going to push 100 percent every game.”
Expect Drye to improve on his 270 yards passing and 131 rushing.
HELPFUL: Misenheimer isn’t the only former Rowan County Athlete of the Year. He has enlisted the help of Bryan Aycoth, a former West quarterback.
“He’s excellent,” Drye said. “I couldn’t ask for anybody better to teach me what they know about the position.”
It appears Aycoth is a one-year deal. He is supposed to go for his doctorate next year.
Brett Hatley is yet another former West Rowan athlete on the East staff. He’ll coach defensive backs. Bubba Rosenbaum left to go to Sun Valley.
SUMMER: East was busy over the summer, going to many 7-on-7s and working on changing the offense completely to a split-back veer.
“They need to know where we’re blocking and why we’re blocking him,” Misenheimer said.
SUPER SOPHS: Misenheimer is one of those coaches who doesn’t want to give anybody the big-head, but it’s hard to ignore a talented sophomore class.
The Wyrick boys, Robert Barringer and Daniel Jones all have been impressive at times and could see varsity action.
“Several we’ll have to call on and some we’ll hold down on jayvees to make sure they’re progressing,” Misenheimer said.
RECRUITING: Defensive lineman T.J. Jefferson is getting looks from colleges. He’s big at 6-3, 320 pounds.
“He has been vocal on and off the field,” Misenheimer said. “He has brought our program a long way. He has changed tremendously since last year. His head is screwed on well.”
CALVIN: Last year, opposing coaches seem to rave about one Mustang in particular: sophomore running back Calvin Edwards.
A total of 376 yards rushing doesn’t sound like much until you realize the team only ran for 786. This year, those numbers should shoot up for the shifty junior.
“He’s probably one of the key people here,” Misenheimer said.
SPELL THAT AGAIN? One of the county’s toughest last names to spell is L’Hommedieu, as in senior all-county linebacker Tyler.
“The best part about him is that he has a vision of playing at the next level,” Misenheimer said. “A lot of kids are all-county but they don’t have the vision and drive to play at the next level and they tend to fizzle out. He has been a vocal leader in the weight room and by example.”
Does Misenheimer have a problem saying that last name.”
“No,” he smiled. “We just call him “Dew.”
And now, there’s another L’Hommedieu, Hunter, a ninth grader.
“We call him ‘Baby Dew’ ” Misenheimer said.
AND FINALLY: The community is loving the new-look Mustangs.
“We haven’t had this much of a buzz in quite some time,” Misenheimer said. “There is just something very nice to walk into the grocery store or a gas station and have people saying, ‘Hey, I’m hearing great things.’ It’s a buzz. That’s the best way to put it. It’s tremendous. The kids are believing. They are buying in that they can compete with these teams.
“Just because you go to East Rowan, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be a doormat.”
The fans will get to see the improvement next Friday when East opens against Salisbury.
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