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Gallagher column: Roaming the county getting ready for tonight

Back in the spring, Joe Nixon was the new coach at North Rowan. He asked to downplay the Cavaliers’ game when they took on West Rowan, the school he helped coach to four straight 3A championship games.
Well, it’s difficult to overlook Nixon and his West connection when the two hook up in Spencer tonight in Week 4 of the high school football season.
There are only two winning teams in the county so far, “and I’m glad we’re one of them,” Nixon chuckled.
The Cavs are 2-1. The only undefeated team is, of course, West Rowan at 3-0. This is the year it was all supposed to crumble, right?
Nixon isn’t buying that.
“They’ve got a program,” he said. “They do a tremendous job of reloading and taking kids as freshmen and turning them into varsity players. We’re worried more about what we’ve got to do. It’s going to be a tremendous challenge.”
West has beaten two good 4A teams in Mooresville and Davie County, and one good 2A team in Salisbury. There were concerns about the Falcons’ offense until new quarterback/former receiver Tyler Stamp came alive in a 29-10 win over Salisbury last week. Just Nixon’s luck, huh? West’s offense picks the week before it plays North to start producing.
Nixon shrugs that off, too.
“I don’t buy too much into their offense being down,” he said. “They’re fine at what they do. They have played three high-caliber opponents.”
To North’s credit, the 1A Cavs haven’t played anyone in their classification yet, beating 3A foes Carson and East Rowan and losing to Salisbury. The winning should be enough to bring out the fans.
“A lot of people from Mount Ulla will come and people are excited in Spencer,” Nixon said. “There should be a big crowd.”
And an even bigger amount of emotion for the senior Falcon offensive linemen who were nurtured and taught the game for their first three years by a guy named Nixon.•Just for the record, West Rowan has respect, not just from Nixon, but across the state when it comes to the Top 10 prep polls. This week, the Falcons are ranked sixth in 3A, one of just four teams to receive at least one first-place vote. To be perfectly honest, sportswriters in the east or far west really don’t know anything about West. But they know the name and they see the undefeated record. So they assume nothing’s changed.
As Nixon said, it’s a program. You win, you get the pub. It’s that simple.
•Tonight’s other game in the county has Salisbury (1-2) traveling down to Landis to meet South Rowan. Again, there are ties. Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan graduated from South.
The Hornets look to get back on track. A record of 1-2 just doesn’t seem right. But 1-2 is a popular record in Rowan County right now. East Rowan and Carson also carry that mark.
South is the only winless team but the Raiders were much better last week.
•Carson is at Robinson, a team it lost a late, 11-point lead to last season. Carson was down 41-0 last week to Hickory Ridge and by the time the Cougars started scoring, it was too late. Carson’s coaching staff has made adjustments so expect a better showing on the road.
One streak to watch is that of Ben Gragg’s. He has scored in all three games so far.•Hickory Ridge is coming to East Rowan tonight so we’ll see if the Mustangs can halt the Ragin’ Bulls’ early fireworks. East has been moving the ball on offense and has found weapons in, among others, Calvin Edwards and Jordan Phillips.
Phillips is taking the opposite approach of West’s Stamp. He has gone from a quarterback to a receiver. He caught a TD pass last week against North.
•And what is it about East Rowan and that first name “Calvin?” Remember the last great running back named Calvin? Sure you do. His name is Hayes.
•Another note on the polls. A.L. Brown is ranked first in the state in 3A but plays host to 4A Porter Ridge, a team that handily defeated the Wonders last year. Stay tuned for that one.
Davie is traveling to the Barbecue City to face Lexington, yet another 1-2 team.
•On the air tonight …
• WSTP 1490 AM will cover the West-North game with Hall-of-Famer Howard Platt and sidekick Wilson Cherry.
• WSAT 1280 AM will cover Salisbury’s game at South with Johnny, Mark, Glenn, Jeff and the boys.
• WSAT will have company from WRNA 1140 AM. Carl Ford, the “Commissioner of High School Football,” will bring us the call.
Go to a game tonight, folks. And be nice.
•Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com.

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