Red pants pumped up Hornets
Joe Pinyan knew deep inside that an emotional Thomasville win the week before pretty much sewed up the Central Carolina Conference title. So how would he keep his Hornets from being overconfident when they finished the regular season at East Davidson?
Break out the red pants.
“That got them fired up a little bit,” Pinyan smiled. “We had never worn them. We needed something that didn’t have them stuck on the week before. The kids got excited.”
And they wrapped up the outright title with a 47-18 win.
When asked what he thought of the new look — red pants with white jerseys and gold helmets, Pinyan said, “I thought it looked pretty decent.”
HO-HUM: Pinyan was told his players were ho-hum after the title victory.
“It was a businesslike approach,” he said. “There was a dream and a desire to be champions and we got the job done. We just walked off.”
RUN, KEION, RUN: Pinyan wasn’t overly impressed with his defense in the first half and made some changes. One was moving Keion Adams from linebacker to the Hornet position and it paid off immediately. Adams intercepted a pass and ran it back 86 yards for a score.
“He made some pretty good cuts on that run,” Pinyan said of the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder. “He was getting my attention. He still wants to be a running back.”
TOP PLAYERS: The defensive player of the week was Clint Comadoll. Max Allen was the offensive player of the week after scoring three times. He shared the award with lineman Parker McKeithan, who Pinyan said had his second steady game in a row.
Raesean Bledsoe had two interceptions (and 50 yards in returns) and drew praise from Pinyan. So did Quan Davis, who had a huge interception that set up a touchdown. Scott Givens played well.
The special teams player of the week was Tony Krider, who had four hits on kicks. Krider stands 5-foot-5, 130.
“Pound for pound, he’s one of the toughest guys we have out there,” Pinyan said. “He doesn’t shy away from anybody.”
There can’t be many defenses in the state playing as well as West Rowan’s right now.
You’ll get no argument from West Iredell after the Warriors were swamped 53-0 Friday for West’s third straight shutout. West Iredell had minus-30 yards rushing, passed for only nine yards and managed just three first downs.
“A negative-yard effort and another goose egg is outstanding,” WR coach Scott Young said. “We’re peaking when we’re supposed to be peaking.”
SAFETY VALVE: With backup quarterback/punter Harrison Baucom sitting out Friday’s game with concussion symptoms, Young had to find a backup for Tyler Stamp. Receiver Darius Gabriel became that person. He played well in the fourth quarter and found the end zone on a 12-yard run.
“He had only practiced quarterback three days and really looked good,” Young said.
Zeke Blackwood handled punting duties with Baucom sidelined.
STAMP OF APPROVAL: Stamp, a converted receiver, also is getting better. Earlier, he would look at his primary receiver and if he wasn’t open, he’d run. But Young pointed to a play against West Iredell, a 26-yard toss to tight end Jack Gallagher, as proof Stamp is progressing and seeing the field better. The completion to Gallagher set up a Daisean Reddick score on the next play.
“We knew West Iredell would be in their Bear package,” Young said. “If we had a good play fake, we’d create some opportunities for our inside receivers. Stamp came to his second read on that one and that was good to see. Stamp continues to improve.”
FIRST SCORE: Young was happy to see receiver Brandon Ijames finally get into the end zone. He scored Friday’s first touchdown on a 32-yard pass from Stamp. Ijames finished with three grabs for 53 yards.
“He is such a great kid that it was good to see him have some success,” Young said.
Ijames was the West receiver who was tackled on the 1-yard line in the loss at East Rowan,
SENIOR SUCCESS: There are 19 seniors on West Rowan’s roster, and Senior Night turned out perfectly.
“What a great way to go out,” Young beamed. “It’s a special group. Every year they have been in high school, we’ve played in a college stadium the last game of the year. Of course, you want them to win the last (regular-season game at home).”
THOUSAND ISLAND: Desmond Jackson has already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark and Reddick is closing in. If he passes the magic mark Friday (he has 863), it won’t be the first time Young has produced two 1,000-yard rushers. In fact, West has had at least one every season since 1999.
UNUSUAL STAT: Tyler Kennedy made two exciting punt returns for scores against West Iredell. Unfortunately, both were called back due to blocks in the back. Amazingly, those were his third and fourth TD returns called back due to penalties.
This is how Young summed it up:
“We need to understand that people’s eyes, noses and mouths are on the front of their body and the back of the helmet is on the back of the body and we need to recognize the front of the body and hit the front of the body and not hit the back of the body.”
HOT BROD: The only time West Iredell even hinted at scoring, Broderick Avery made a fourth-down stop for the Falcons near midfield.
It wasn’t a matter of who scored in the Cavaliers’ 74-0 pasting of South Davidson. It was more a case of who didn’t.
Coach Joe Nixon was very happy to see Andre Cowan be one of them. The sophomore was seeing his first action since early in the season when he injured his collarbone.
Cowan got one carry in the third quarter and he made the most of it, rambling 50 yards for a score.
“Andre is an explosive kid who runs hard,” Nixon said. “We just need to keep him healthy.”
CAM CAN: Nixon was also elated that receiver Cameron Sifford scored. He hauled in a 40-yard pass from Alexis Archie for the game’s second touchdown.
“He has had some big catches for us this year, so it was good to see him get into the end zone,” Nixon said.
It was Sifford’s 13th catch of the season.
SAY HEY, RAE-RAE: Nixon wanted to get Raekwon (Rae-Rae) Wynruit a touchdown, and it happened on a 5-yard run in the second quarter.
“He is a fun kid to be around,” Nixon said. “He is always in a good mood. He always practices hard. We were glad to see him get in the end zone.”
TAKE IT IN, BIG FELLA: Cecil McCauley, all 6-foot, 225 pounds of him, scored on a 61-yard return of a fumble.
“He looked fast,” noted Nixon, who then chuckled, “It was good to see a defensive lineman rumbling and stumbling down the field.”
OUTMANNED: South Davidson (1-9) was outclassed from the start, and the coaches agreed on a running clock in the second quarter. It was 54-0 at halftime.
“We wanted to be classy, keep our composure and we didn’t want to embarrass them,” Nixon said. “We wanted to make sure we got all of our guys in and we did in the first half. They turned the ball over and that led to some of those scores.”
Of North’s 11 touchdowns, two came on fumble returns, two came on interception returns, and one came on South Davidson’s only kickoff.
Carson defensive lineman Ryan Bearden turned heads Friday with a pair of batted down passes. Bearden is a freshman that was called up from the JV team and .
“We brought him up and we’re like dad-gum,” Woody said. “All of a sudden, he’s starting. We’re excited about him.”
RECORD-BREAKER: Carson quarterback Austin McNeill broke a school record by throwing his 16th touchdown pass of the season in the first quarter. McNeill hit K.J. Pressley in stride for a 35-yard toss. McNeill has thrown for a county-high 1,574 yards this year. His best game was a 309-yard effort against JM Robinson.
“He’s come a long way,” Woody said. “If you go back and look at our numbers the past five weeks we’re started not turning the ball over. We’ve stopped having stupid penalites and it’s because of him.”
O-LINE: Woody credited his offensive line with solid play the last couple weeks in helping the Cougars finish 3-1 to end the regular season.
“I was real proud of those guys,” Woody said. “We’ve played consistently better the past couple of weeks up front. We have to do that to be good.”
SLOOP UPDATE: Brandon Sloop has 1,240 rushing yards for the year after a 141-yard night against North Iredell. Sloop ended the year with a county-high 1,240 yards to edge East Rowan’s Calvin Edwards with 1,235.
POD TIME: Woody made his feelings on the pod system known recently. The objective of pods is to pair up teams in close proximity against each other in the playoffs to save travel. The system scheduled the Cougars against county and conference rival East Rowan Friday in a first-round clash.
“We have kids here that have never been out of Rowan County,” Woody said. “I’m not a fan of it. I think it’d be a great opportunity for our kids to go wherever and see how somebody else does things. I just think that’s a healthy thing for us.”
DEFENSE: It was a season low in points allowed for Carson in a 41-6 win.
Junior Calvin Edwards finished East’s 10-game regular season with 1,235 rushing yards, and his 123.5 yards per game was the county’s best mark.
Edwards has the fourth-best rushing total for a regular season in East history. Only Thomas Lowe (2007), Cal Hayes Jr. (2001) and Jeff Park (1988) amassed more regular-season yardage. Edwards’ rushing yards per game is actually higher than that of Hayes, who had the benefit of an 11-game season.
IMPROVED: East’s rise from a one-win team to a six-win, second-place team hasn’t been a case of blue smoke and mirrors. Statistically, the Mustangs have made some of the biggest single-season gains in county history
East has scored 198 more points than it did in 2011 and it has allowed 97 fewer points.
East was shut out three times last season. This season, its lowest point total is 13.
East held only one opponent under 17 points in 2011. East has held six opponents to 14 or fewer points this year.
Aaron Kennerly, the quarterback who replaced injured Nathan Lambert, needed relief himself when he broke his collarbone in the 56-6 loss to Statesville.
Drew Glenn stepped in for Kennerly and managed to throw a TD pass to Josh Medlin to get South on the scoreboard.
Between Lambert, Kennerly and Glenn, South had a county-leading 17 touchdown passes this season.
Kennerly, who threw for 786 yards and nine TDs while playing two full games and parts of four others, is expected to be sidelined from athletics for 6-8 weeks.
MEDLIN WRAPUP: In two seasons of catching passes, Josh Medlin was one of the best in South history. He closed his career with a remarkable stretch of catching at least one touchdown pass in eight straight games.
In a 10-game season, Medlin had 43 catches for 730 yards and nine TDs.
Medlin’s final career numbers are 78 catches for 1,698 yards and 16 TDs. He ranks third in school history behind Adrian Parker and B.J. Grant in career receptions and career receiving yards.
BAD BREAK: Lambert missed all of three games and parts of others. It would’ve been interesting to see how far he could’ve climbed up the county’s all-time passing and total offense charts if he’d stayed healthy. He’s currently top-20 on the all-time county lists for total offense (3,660 yards) and passing yards (3,014), although some players whose teams made the playoffs could surpass him.
Lambert holds four major records at South — total offense, season (1,965 yards in 2011), passing yards in a regular season (1,792 in 2011), passing yards sseason, including playoff games (also 1,792) and passing yards, career (3,014).
A 21-14 loss to Concord left the Wonders 8-3, their worst regular-season record since 2004. The Wonders were in the NPC when they went 8-3 in 2004. They lost a conference game to East Rowan that season and dropped non-league games to Eastern Randolph and Concord.
Brown was 9-2 in the regular season when it last reached a state championship game in 2008.
THE GOOD NEWS: Shrine Bowl wide receiver Keeon Johnson was finally able to return against the Spiders after missing six full games. Johnson made an impact with five catches for 95 yards, and he should be a huge asset the rest of the way.
THE NUMBERS: Despite losing their top running back for several games, their top receiver for a half-dozen games and their starting quarterback in Week 9, the Wonders put up 462 points in the regular season (42 points per game). That’s almost on pace with the extraordinary offense they had in 2011.
The Wonders’ issues have been mostly on the defensive side. They’ve allowed 248 points, 107 more than they did in the regular season a year ago.
In their three losses, the Wonders have allowed 41, 63 and 21.
TWIN TERRORS: Despite missing significant time with injuries, Kalif Phillips has 1,213 rushing yards. Ricky Sherrill has 933, so the Wonders have a chance to have two 1,000-yard backs for the first time since 1997 when Nick Maddox and Traun Brown were running wild.
Phillips also topped 1,000 in 2011, but injuries kept Damien Washington just short of the milestone.
Davie freshman Cade Carney rushed for 169 yards in the 34-24 loss to North Davidson that ended Davie’s hopes for a CPC championship.
Carney has 1,663 rushing yards, the third-highest total in school history. Cooter Arnold, who played at UNC, had the two best rushing seasons in Davie history. Arnold had 1,921 rushing yards in 2003 and 2,344 in 2004.
Carney has 236 carries this season. David Daye set the school record with 292 attempts in 1996.
POSSIBLE COMEBACK: Shrine Bowl offensive tackle Cole Blankenship has missed seven games and is close to returning, but he isn’t expected to appear in the first round of the 4A playoffs. Davie is at home against traditional power Jamestown Ragsdale.
JAYVEES: Davie’s jayvee team finished 3-7 and didn’t win a game in the CPC.
Ronnie Gallagher, Mike London, Ryan Bisesi and Brian Pitts contributed to the notebook.