Prep Football: A.L. Brown Friday Night hero Shakil Gore
KANNAPOLIS – The cozy coaches’ office connected to A.L. Brown’s locker room is the scene of entertaining conversations.
Wonder coaches might discuss their rather scary theory of diffusing hurricanes with nuclear weapons or maybe their theory of using electromagnetics to prevent cars from starting until seat belts are properly strapped on.
Some days the talk turns to Porter Ridge’s spectacular kicking game or West Rowan’s defense, but on Tuesday the Wonders, ranked No. 1 in 3A, are discussing their own defensive end Shakil Gore, a 205-pound bundle of energy with a body carved from a quartz quarry.
There is only one Gore, but on this day his coaches argue hypothetically about multiple Gores.
“If I had 22 Shakil Gores, I’d go ahead and order championship rings right now,” declares head coach Mike Newsome.
Defensive coordinator Noah Lyon is in a somber mood with sixth-ranked 4A Porter Ridge next on the schedule and offers a dissenting opinion.
“I don’t think you’d want but 20 Shakils,” Lyon responds. “You’d want a punter and I think you’d probably want Kalif.”
“Kalif” is Kalif Phillips, who has scored nine electric TDs for the Wonders (3-0) and blocks punts and takes kickoffs to the house in his spare time.
The coaches agree to split the difference and decide the ideal football machine would be 21 Shakils and one Kalif. Their reasoning being that if you had Shakil Gore blocking for Shakil Gore, no punts ever would be necessary.
“Shakil is tough as nails,” says Newsome, balling up his right fist. “He’s that kid that every coach wants his players to be like.”
The 5-foot-10 Gore’s quickness and desire made him a starter as a sophomore early last season, but at 180 or so pounds, he was playing defensive end mostly on courage.
An offseason spent in assistant coach Todd Hagler’s weightlifting program transformed Gore into something scarier. Now he’s 205 pounds and looks like a miniature version of former West Rowan beast Chris Smith. His forearms are thick and powerful. His neck bulges with muscle. His chest practically explodes through his tight orange practice shirt.Told that he’s getting bigger, Gore grins and shows a sense of humor. “I think it’s probably just a small shirt,” he says.
Gore opened the season with nine tackles against Shelby and had 13 more in a sit-down-early night against South Rowan.
Then he piled up tackles for loss in Friday’s 38-21 win against Rocky River.
“Can’t explain it – I was just in the zone,” Gore says.
He was destructive enough that he earned the Wonders’ defensive player of the week honor.
“Shakil had an excellent game and played hard in every situation,” defensive line coach Shon Galloway said. “He read screens well and stopped plays behind the line of scrimmage. He got a lot of help from our interior linemen. They did their jobs and that allowed him to make big plays that were noticed.”
As hard as Gore gets after it on Fridays, he goes equally hard during the week.
His offensive teammates hate to see him coming on the practice field.
“I only know one speed,” Gore admits. “All out.”
Newsome can attest to that. Receivers coach Chip English usually serves as the scout team QB, but when English is occupied, Newsome fills in. Newsome got a dose of Gore’s strength when Gore slapped his coach on the arm just to let him know that he would’ve been sacked on a play.
“Coach got mad and threw the ball at me,” Gore said with a laugh. “I guess I did hit him a little too hard, but you play like you practice.”
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