Friday Night Hero: East Rowan's Sam Wyrick
By Ryan Bisesi
GRANITE QUARRY — Sam Wyrick was feeling good entering the first week of the season. The sophomore had an established role in East Rowan’s program as the jayvee quarterback, waiting in the wings in case an injury occurred to step in.
Then he got a promotion.
Wyrick was bumped up to the varsity team last Monday when it was decided he would be the CEO of the offense.
“It surprised me a lot,” Wyrick said. “I was getting prepared for Thursday and then they told me. I had to change my whole mindset and get ready for Friday.”
The 5-foot-11, 150-pound sophomore wasn’t alive the last time East beat Salisbury at Ludwig Stadium, but there he was Friday helping the Mustangs to its signature win of the decade so far.
At the beginning of a 1-9 season, It took East three games to score last year. This season, it has taken one game to win.
“The coaches have been talking about how good we’re going to be this year, but I don’t think anybody believed it until now,” Wyrick said.
Wyrick completed five of seven passes for 153 yards. There was one drop and one misfire but he hit twin brother Seth Wyrick on the first play from scrimmage for a 10-yard completion and the first of 14 first downs.
On the ground, Wyrick broke off runs of 12 and 8 yards to show some elusiveness. He was sacked twice on the first three drives but the youngster was able to shake it off and embrace the speed of the varsity game.
“Varsity is way faster,” Wyrick said. “They’re not just bigger people. It’s faster. The crowd gets more involved. It’s way different than last year.”
The buzz around East camp in the preseason was that junior Noah Drye, who saw time at QB toward the end of last season, would usher in the veer offense under new coach Danny Misenheimer. After a coaches meeting the Sunday before the game, the staff decided to turn to Wyrick and put Drye at wide receiver, where the Mustangs are banged up with injuries.
“We had a good problem on our hands,” Misenheimer said. “We had two good quarterbacks. Right now, Sam’s passing ability is a little bit better than Noah’s. Noah’s work ethic makes it to where we can put him on the field anywhere.”
The initial plan was to 8-quarter Wyrick and bring him up to varsity late in the year. Now if his development continues, Wyrick can master the offense early and be a three-year starter as a senior.
“Once he gets stronger and a little bit faster, he’s going to be tough to handle,” Misenheimer said.
Wyrick wasn’t going to tiptoe to his first varsity win. After East recovered a fumble with Salisbury in the red zone, the Mustangs took over at their own 18-yard line. Wyrick went deep to brother Seth for the biggest play of the night, an 82-yard touchdown connection to give East a 20-8 lead.
Sam found Seth in single coverage and hit him in stride at midfield on a play action pass.
“We knew they had been taking their safety to their sideline,” Misenheimer said. “We had a size advantage there and they had been expecting run.”
“We got the safeties to bite and he was wide open,” Wyrick said.
The most impressive sequence for Wyrick may have been at the end of the first half when he led the Mustangs 61 yards to the end zone with 1:53 left. A 42-yard pass to Jordan Phillips got East in the red zone and he found Phillips three plays later to get down to the 1 with four seconds left. Calvin Edwards punched it in on the final play of the half to give East the lead for keeps.
“I made a couple mistakes here and there, but I’m going to continue to work hard,” Wyrick said.