Prep Football: A.L. Brown 39, Central Cabarrus 7
By Josh Hoke
CONCORD – The injuries keep mounting for A.L. Brown’s star players. But, luckily for the Wonders, new stars are emerging in their absence.Brown was already without gifted receiver Keeon Johnson and lost game-changing tailback Kalif Phillips in the first half Friday, but their replacements more than picked up the slack in a 39-7 win over Central Cabarrus.
Phillips finished with 110 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on 11 touches. Yet, his senior campaign was slowed to a halt late in the first half, when he limped to the sideline and pulled himself out of the game with a left foot injury. Trainers were helping him to the locker room minutes later.
“I’ll be back,” said Phillips, who was expected to play a big role with Johnson missing his second straight game. “I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I’ll be ready to play like always.”
Brown (5-1, 2-0 SPC) coach Mike Newsome likely had serious concerns when Phillips limped to the locker room, but his offense didn’t really miss a beat. Defensive dynamo J.P. Lott made a cameo at tailback and scored on a pivotal, 12-yard touchdown run with 36 seconds left in the first half, putting the Wonders up 17-7.
In the second half, backup tailback Ricky Sherrill, the bruising back in the Wonders’ stable, and the Brown passing game, which has been hit or miss all season long, picked up the slack and put the game away.
“[Kalif] was out and they put the ball in my hands,” said Sherrill, who finished with 104 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, 15 of them in the second half. “We had to drive the ball down the ball. It was a long drive. We had to fight for it. They weren’t giving up.”
On the 13th play of a Brown drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters, Sherrill scored his first touchdown on a one-yard run. Less than two minutes later, he scored on a five-yard run. Up 33-7, Brown added a late touchdown pass from quarterback Keenan Medley to Johnny Delahoussaey.
That was Medley’s last throw. He finished with 176 yards on 9-of-14 passing, but Central Cabarrus coach Donnie Kiefer was obviously perturbed with Newsome’s decision to throw the ball with the game already decided. After the touchdown, he stared down the Wonders bench for 90-plus seconds, outstretching his arms almost as if to ask: “Why?”
“That’s their prerogative,” Kiefer said. “They can do what they want. I’m not going to whine about it. I’m not going to cry about it. I hate that we gave up the deep balls. I’m not saying anything about them throwing them. I hate that we let them get behind us.”
The Vikings (4-2, 0-2 SPC) put the Wonders in a hole early, making it apparent on the game’s opening drive that Brown would have to work to extend its dominance in this series. The Wonders are now 24-0 against their cross-county rival.
Central Cabarrus gained 43 yards on its first three offensive snaps and drove to the Wonders’ 5 after a pass interference penalty, setting up Klugh’s touchdown pass to Kenny Purvis.
Klugh and Purvis were dangerous throughout the first half, racking up 104 rushing yards. But the momentum began to swing after Purvis left the game with a second-quarter injury. He didn’t return, and neither did Central Cabarrus’ ability to move the ball. The Vikings had just 201 total yards and many of them came late in the game.
The Wonders had 412 yards and 20 first downs. Sherrill, who entered the game nursing a previous injury, led a running game that finished with 236 yards.
“We just told Ricky in the locker room that he was going to have to carry the load,” said Newsome, who listed Phillips and Johnson as week to week. “He’s had to do that in a couple of games. He stepped up as well tonight as he could. Coming off an injury, some guys might play a little timid. Not Ricky. I was proud of him.”