Ruffin a rare POY for Hornets
SALISBURY — As potent and explosive as Salisbury’s offense is, you rarely see Hornets selected as Rowan County offensive players of the year.
The list of county award winners is dominated by West Rowan tailbacks and North Rowan quarterbacks.
West’s identity since Scott Young arrived has been physicality and pounding the ball out of the I-formation. North’s identity for many, many years was spreading it out and throwing at around at “The Airport.”
Salisbury’s identity in its decade under coach Joe Pinyan is the wishbone, a spread-the-wealth offense that often generates multiple players with nice numbers but rarely any indvidual with the huge stats necessary to be county player of the year.
That changed in 2012, with halfback Justin Ruffin putting up a monster season for a strong team that had a 10-game winning streak. Ruffin is Salisbury’s first Rowan County Offensive Player of the Year since Andre Turner in 1995. That’s the year Ruffin was born.
All-County Offense capsules (17) — 11 seniors, 3 juniors, 3 sophomores
Justin Ruffin, Sr. RB — Ruffin’s 1,724 rushing yards, the second-best total in school history, were achieved on just 149 carries. He averaged a staggering 11.6 yards per carry and put the ball in the end zone a lot more often than anyone else. Also a fine receiver and dangerous returner, he totaled 33 TDs, Two-time all-county pick.
Brian Bauk, Sr. QB — A lot of people figured that if Ruffin wasn’t the player of the year, then Bauk was. Bauk was the engineer of Salisbury’s hard-to-stop train that put up 38 points per game. He rushed for 1,295 yards, a county record for QBs, and he threw for 953 yards. Rushing (16) and passing (11), he accounted for 27 TDs. Two-time all-county pick.
Max Allen, Sr. RB — Allen rushed 156 times for 990 yards and was an oustanding blocker for Ruffin. A lot of Ruffin’s long dashes came after Allen got him the edge with a springing block. Allen’s biggest game was 151 yards on 12 carries against Carson. He scored 13 TDs. Two-time all-county pick.
Parker McKeithan, Sr. OL — McKeithan’s huge body — he’s 6-foot-5 — created a lot of running room for Ruffin, Allen and Bauk and helped the Hornets put up 40-plus points seven times.
Stephen Mazur, Soph. K — Mazur kicked three field goals and 62 PATs. His game-winning field goal against High Point Andrews was one of the season’s defining moments.
East Rowan (3)
Calvin Edwards, Jr. RB — Edwards proved a perfect fit as the primary ballcarrier in East’s split-back veer offense. He was second in the county in rushing with 1,501 yards and also was second to Ruffin in the county with 21 TDs. Edwards produced the second-biggest rushing season in East history. Edwards had 200 yards against South Rowan and 185 against Statesville.
Madison Hedrick, Sr. RB — In a lot of ways, Hedrick summed up East’s season — undersized, unsung, un-hyped, but he rushed for 1,007 yards and averaged 6.1 yards per carry in East’s veer.
Had four 100-yard games and teamed with Edwards to give the Mustangs their first pair of 1,000-yard backs.
An all-county defensive back as a junior, Hedrick helped out in the secondary when needed.
Jordan Phillips, Sr. WR — Phillips had 40 catches for 855 yards and eight TDs. He finished second in the county in receiving yards and had the most in a season by a Mustang since the 1990s.
Austin McNeill, Jr. QB — Led the county in completions (91), attempts (201), passing yards (1.574) and tied for first in TD passes with a school-record 16. McNeill threw for a school-record four TDs against Hickory Ridge and already owns the school records for TD passes in a career (31).
K.J. Pressley, Sr. WR — Won the receiving triple crown in the county with 51 catches, 1,061 receiving yards and 10 TDs. Pressley had nine catches for 181 yards against Hickory Ridge and six catches for a county-record 241 against Robinson. He was the first in county history to have 1,000 receiving yards in the regular season. Two-time all-county pick.
Brandon Sloop, Soph. RB — To say Sloop was a workhorse would be understating. His 283 carries in 12 games were by far the most in the county, and he thundered for 1,380 yards to rank third in rushing. He had 245 yards against South Rowan, 197 against Statesville and 185 against Salisbury.
Sloop already has 2,336 rushing yards — with two seasons still to go.
West Rowan (3)
Daisean Reddick, Jr. RB — Rushed for 1,033 yards despite missing the first three games of the sesaon. Reddick averaged 8.4 yards per carry, second in the county to Ruffin. Had a string of six consecutive 100-yard games to finish the regular season.
Rashad Sherrill, Sr. OL — West’s right tackle helped the Falcons rush for more than 3,000 yards. Brother of Catawba QB and former West star B.J. Sherrill.
Branden Hansen, Sr. OL — West’s left guard helped the Falcons average 275 rushing yards in county games.
North Rowan (2)
Jareke Chambers, So. RB — Chambers did a lot of the things for North that Ruffin did for Salisbury. He rushed for 1,129 yards and 14 TDs, had 19 catches for 212 yards and two scores and ran back a kickoff for a TD against South Stanly. Third in the county in scoring with 104 points.
Will Robertson, Sr. OL — Robinson was the anchor of North’s offensive line as the Cavaliers got their running game going again. Chambers was North’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Mark Sturgis Jr. in 2003. Two-time all-county pick.
South Rowan (1)
Josh Medlin, Sr. TE — South had a tough year but Medlin shined with 43 catches for 730 yards and nine TDs in a 10-game season. He finished his career with eight straight games with a TD catch. Medlin had 119 receiving yards in a win against North Iredell and two TD catches in a win against West Iredell. Two-time all-county pick.