Prep Football: Salisbury 39, West Davidson 7
By David Shaw
SALISBURY – The county’s most prolific offense continued to operate at full throttle Friday night.
Salisbury didn’t blow any amps in its CCC opener against visiting West Davidson, but it played loud enough to secure its third straight lopsided victory.
“I think it all goes back to practicing more seriously and taking more pride in what we do,” junior wideout John Mark Petty said after Salisbury prevailed 39-7. “We’re coming off a good week of practice. And tonight we got on our blocks well and the running backs ran hard.”
Seniors Brian Bauk and Justin Ruffin led Salisbury’s downhill charge, but both credited line kings Malik Wilson, Parker McKeithan, Michael Dyson, Jalen Warren and Tim Rhodes for paving lanes wide enough to drive the team bus through.
“The offensive line has decided they’re going to step up and be our leaders,” Bauk said after the Hornets (4-2 overall) racked up 368 total yards. “Right now they’re taking care of business for us.”
Ruffin, who rushed for 112 yards and three touchdowns, quickly agreed. “They’re putting in the work,” he said. “We know they’re gonna take us where we’ve got to go.”
Yet it was Max Allen, the 5-foot-9 bulldog in Salisbury’s backfield, who earned coach Joe Pinyan’s seal of approval. “At one point in the game Max came up to me and said, ‘Coach, I don’t have to carry the ball. I feel like I’m blocking pretty good. Just run behind me.’ That’s pretty unselfish.”
Salisbury did a lot of things right in the first half when it mounted a 26-0 lead. Ruffin capped a short-field scoring drive when he rollled into the end zone on a 1-yard TD run in the opening quarter. Then Bauk (112 yards rushing/62 passing) took over the second, lobbing a 13-yard touchdown pass to Petty and scoring on jailbreak runs of 46 and 32 yards.
“They had speed all over the field,” losing coach Dale Barnes said after West squared its record at 3-3. “On both offense and defense, they were a lot faster than us. And the quarterback, he managed the game real well. He’s a super athlete who made big plays.”
So did the Hornets’ defense, which forced four turnovers and limited the Green Dragons to 100 yards in each half. West quarterback Austin Teague was intercepted three times and Salisbury defensive back Rasean Bledsoe recovered a third-period fumble on the WD 15.
“We were hungry,” Bledsoe said afterward. “We knew we had to come out here and set the tone early and be ready to play.”
Pinyan expressed concern over Salisbury’s play early in the third quarter. The Hornets fumbled away the second-half kickoff and West cashed in when Teague spiraled a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Heitman seven snaps later. Salisbury responded with a pair of Ruffin TD runs and turned the game into a hearty round of batting practice.
“One-and-oh in the conference,” Bauk said. “That’s what’s most important. This was a good one for us.”
SHS has outscored its last three opponents by an aggragate 171-44 score. It seems like a long time since the Hornets were staring down the barrell of a 1-2 start.
“We had to learn to take every game like it was a big game,” Ruffin said. “We’ve got to play hard all the time.”
Bledsoe, a savvy senior, thinks the turnaround has to do with facing adversity and making adjustments.
“We had to grow up,” he said. “We knew we were a young team at the beginning of the year and we’re still making mistakes. But when we actually have our heads on straight, not many teams can play with us.”
•NOTES: A pregame shower delayed the start until 7:55 p.m. … Ruffin enjoyed his fourth 100-yard rushing game and now has 12 TD runs. … Braylon Dailey, Antwuan Payne and Jayquan Smith had interceptions for SHS.