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Gallagher column: Roaming the county

Roaming the county getting ready for tonight …
CHINA GROVE – What a difference two weeks makes. Just ask the Carson Cougar football team.
Fourteen days ago, Mark Woody’s team was 1-6, wondering if it was even going to make the 3A playoffs. Then, just like that, three additions brightened everyone’s outlook in China Grove.
No. 1: The arrival of Zane Gibson.
Woody’s new assistant is a former Catawba offensive lineman. No surprise that a former Chip Hester player is coaching in Rowan County. Every team seems to have at least one Indian assistant. And Gibson’s a winner.
No. 2: The arrival of Tyler Reynolds.
A kid wearing a Southern Cal hoodie walks into Woody’s office and informs him he has just moved in from Oakland, Calif., he’s a running back and he wants to join the team. He’s a good-looking kid, standing 5-foot-11, 185 pounds. Said something about his mother being transferred to the VA hospital here.
Woody’s first instincts? “I’ve seen a lot of kids move in that didn’t pan out,” he said. “I don’t get too excited. I’ve been coaching 22 years and I can probably name two or three that did.”
Then, Reynolds went into last week’s West Iredell game and ran three times for 60 yards, including a counter that went for 50 down to the one. He helped Carson win its second straight game, 36-28.
Woody laughed that this junior might pan out. We’ll see how the California kid does tonight when he goes up against West Rowan, the No. 1 rushing defense in the county. The Falcons are a brick wall, giving up only 51 yards per game.
No. 3: The arrival of Brooklyn Ashley Billings. On Sept. 27 at 5:42 a.m., assistant Travis Billings was presented with his first child. He praised wife Allison, saying, “My wife was a trooper.”
Asked about the emotion, Billings said, “There’s no way you can possibly explain it to somebody who hasn’t been there,”
Put those three things with two straight wins, and Carson isn’t acting like a 3-6 team. The Cougars are upbeat.
“Our kids have a great attitude,” Woody beamed. “They’re excited.”•Woody is looking like a genius now because of his predictions early in the year. He tried to tell us that two teams Carson lost to, East Rowan and Hickory Ridge, would contend for titles.
“A guy was giving me a hard time after the (46-30) loss to Hickory Ridge,” Woody recalled. “He said they’ll finish fourth in their league. “I said, ‘Bull. They’ll beat one of the top two teams and finish 1 or 2.’ ”
Hickory Ridge dropped 63 on A.L. Brown and stands first in the South Piedmont.
Woody told us East Rowan was going to open some eyes. And tonight, the Mustangs enter their first-place showdown with ranked Statesville 5-0 in the North Piedmont Conference.
“They’re a legit football team who’ll give Statesville all they want,” Woody said.•As far as tonight’s opponent West Rowan? Woody reminds us that despite two league losses, the Falcons still have the county’s best record at 7-2 after squashing highly ranked (2A) Reidsville 35-6 a couple of weeks ago and recording a 42-0 shutout last week over North Iredell.
“Reidsville’s a good football team,” Woody said, “and we watched West’s big ol’ linemen just mash them. To me, they’re still West Rowan.”•In yet another big game, the Central Carolina Conference title will be decided when Thomasville visits Salisbury. Thomasville’s only 3-6 but is 3-0 in the league. Salisbury, at 6-2, is the only CCC team with a winning record.
North Rowan celebrates Senior Night against West Montgomery. A.L. Brown tries to rebound at home against Northwest Cabarrus and Davie travels to Reagan in a battle of 7-2 clubs. South Rowan is off and will host Statesville next week.•On the air tonight …
• WSTP 1490 AM takes its show on the road to Statesville for East’s biggest game of the year. Hall of Famer Howard Platt and sidekick Wilson Cherry will bring us the call.
• WSAT 1280 AM will have Johnny, Mark, Glenn, Jeff and boys calling Salisbury’s game with Thomasville.
Go to a game tonight, folks. And be nice.•Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com

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