College Football: Area Athletes Roundup
By Mike London
Area college athletes …
WINGATE – Wingate senior center Joe So embraced Catawba’s Timmy Pangburn, a West Rowan grad, after the Bulldogs beat Catawba 34-28 in overtime on Saturday.
“It was great to see famiiar faces like Pangburn and B.J. Sherrill,” said So, who played high school ball for Salisbury. “Catawba came here for a tough fight, but it’s all good. We got a win and I’ve got some bragging rights for when I go home.”
Even though he didn’t play football until he was a freshman at Salisbury, So developed into a good player during the Hornets’ run of four straight CCC titles from 2004-07.
But he was never All-CCC or All-Rowan County. With the exception of Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan, not many people thought So would make any impact in college, much less become a starter. But he is a classic late-bloomer.
So wasn’t quite 6 feet tall and weighed about 230 when he left Salisbury. Now he’s a very firm 270 and he’s nearly 6-foot-2.
So reshirted the 2008 season at Wingate, paid more dues in 2009 and 2010 and became a starter in 2011. Now he’s a key player for the Bulldogs, who are 4-1 in the SAC and tied for first place with Mars Hill.
“Coming into this season, the offensive line was a huge question mark for us,” Wingate coach Joe Reich said. “But Joe might be the most improved player on our team. He’s been locked in and focused all year and he has taken on a lot of responsbility. We rely on him to make the line calls and we can trust him to make the right calls. He’s just having a phenomenal year. He’s been the cornerstone of our offensive line.”
It’s a good line. Wingate topped 500 yards of offense against Catawba.
The big college adjustment for So was making the transition from being a run-blocker at a high school that runs 90 percent of the time to pass-blocking on a team that likes to air it out. Wingate threw 58 times against Catawba, and So and his linemates didn’t allow a single sack.
So credits extra conditioning work for his success on Saturday.
“We’ve put in a lot of hours of sweat,” he said. “So we can usually run circles around most teams late in games. When we got into overtime with Catawba, at first you’re thinking, ‘Oh, no,’ but we’ve been there quite a few times before, against Valdosta, against Pembroke. We handled it well.”
So also has been stellar in the classroom and will graduate in December with a degree in business management.
“I’ve been part of very good teams here,” he said. “It’s been a joy-ride.”
• Josh Patch (East Rowan) is a starter at defensive tackle for the Bulldogs and was in on four tackles on Saturday. He also had a quarterback hurry.
Patch was terrific lineman, both ways, on East’s strong 2007 team and has been on the field for the Bulldogs since he was a true freshman in 2008.
He had 30 tackles as a junior in 2010 for a SAC-championship team.
Patch used his redshirt year in 2011, and has returned to action for his senior season. At 6-foot-2, he weighs in the 310-pound range and he’s a run-stopper.
“He’s our ‘Refrigerator Perry,’ Reich said with a smile. “He’s just so strong, and he’s very tough to move.”
An oustanding wrestler at East, Patch is much heavier now than he was in his prep days, but his wrestling background still serves him well.
“We love to recruit wrestlers,” Reich said. “Patch has great hands and he understands how to play with leverage.”
• Ike Whitaker (Salisbury) pounded for 68 yards on 17 carries in Lenoir-Rhyne’s 34-21 win against Mars Hill.
• John Knox (Salisbury) had a good day for Charleston University in a 27-14 win against West Liberty.
Knox rushed seven times for 48 yards and was 6-for-8 passing for 80 yards.
He had a 22-yard scoring run.
• In UNC Pembroke’s 31-10 loss to Carson-Newman, Ben DeCelle (East) had five catches for 53 yards, and T.J. Johnson (A.L. Brown) had four catches for 49 yards.
Backup QB Jonathan Efird (A.L. Brown) completed a pass for the Braves and had a 9-yard run. Linebacker Cadarreus Mason (South Rowan) was in on five tackles, one for loss .
• Catawba’s B.J. Sherrill (West Rowan) had two rushing TDs in the loss to Wingate and threw for 196 yards.
• Trey Mashore (West) made a tackle for the Indians.
• Livingstone’s Zay Laster (West) passed for 149 yards when he was thrown into the fire against second-ranked Winston-Salem State.
• Guilford’s Adam Smith (Davie) caught the game-winning TD pass in a 38-35 victory against Randolph-Macon.
Smith, a freshman, enjoyed a monster day, making 10 catches for 190 yards and two TDs.
Smith was a quarterback as a senior at Davie, and he surprised Randolph-Macon with a 51-yard pass completion that set up a touchdown.•In Averett’s 28-13 homecoming loss to Christopher Newport, Zack Grkman (Carson) made three tackles and Dontae Gilbert (Carson) made two.
•Averett’s Hobie Proctor (West) averaged 50 yards on two kickoffs and helped make the tackle on one of them.