Gallagher column: Woody has Carson on solid footing

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mark Woody knew Carson was finally “his” program when he looked at this year’s roster and saw a kid named “Livengood.”
Tucker Livengood was on the first Carson team seven years ago and Woody couldn’t help but remember him picking off the first pass in Cougar history.
“Now, little brother is in here as a freshman. I feel old,” Woody joked.
Actually, Woody is feeling younger than ever. His program has become a good one.
Woody was sitting in his back yard recently, reminiscing about that start.
Other than the few milestones like Livengood’s interception, there isn’t much to remember positively.
0-11 the first year.
Carson was outscored 423-74.
“We were just trying to keep them together and keep them from getting beaten up,” Woody said.
0-11 the second.
“It was really hard the second year,” Woody said. “We thought we had kids coming who were going to help us.”

By the third season, Woody was having to throw young freshmen and sophomores into the mix, hoping they made an impact by their junior and senior years.
Kids like Shaun Warren, who happened to walk in one day wanting to play. By the time he left, he was one of North Carolina’s top rushers.
And then it happened. The opener of 2008 produced not only the school’s first win but it came in resounding fashion, 36-0 over North Rowan. The Shaun Warren Show began with a 76-yard effort.
Woody has the Salisbury Post front page of that-history-making Friday night framed in his home.
Carson actually had a two-game win streak that season, finishing 3-8.
But not until the last game of the 2009 season did Woody feel like his program had arrived.
Ironically, in a loss.

Carson finished the regular season 6-5 that season and then gave the fans their first playoff victory over Ledford. That sent the Cougars on a long drive to Raleigh to face unbeaten and No. 1 seed Cardinal-Gibbons.
Carson led most of the game before succumbing in the fourth quarter and losing 21-15, finishing 7-6.
“Even though we lost, that changed things for us,” Woody said. “Something happened that night — the demeanor, the attitude. We should have won that game. We outplayed them, by far.”
Mistakes while driving deep in C-G territory did Woody’s team in.
“Three fumbles inside the 10,” Woody lamented. “That had never happened. It just did on that night.”
The players were disappointed but Woody loved the determination. “You could sense it after that game. They couldn’t wait for next year.
“That game, for some reason, stands out to me. The past two years I’ve pulled the film out. They way they competed against a No. 1 seed that was undefeated was something. It changed the expectations of everything we were doing.”

Those expectations turned into a “Wow Season” in 2010. Ten victories.
Carson outscored its foes 493-284.
After going 4-7 in 2011, Carson is ready to climb back into the title hunt.
“We took a step back but we were a score away in four games from being an 8, 9-win team,” Woody said. “These kids we have now are special. They’ll call me or text me, goofing around. It’s a fun bunch to be around.”
It’s always fun when you win. And that’s why those first 22 games in Carson history are a distant memory.

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or