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Plenty of excitement in Rowan County

People in Rowan County still talk about Salisbury’s loss to South Iredell in the 2AA West final and wonder how the Hornets lost.

Easy answer. The Hornets grabbed two 14-point leads.

Salisbury seemed to be much better during its 10-game win streak playing from behind. Who can ever forget rallying against Thomasville three different times and winning 43-39 in the final seconds on a hook-and-ladder from quarterback Brian Bauk to Jon Mark Petty to Justin Ruffin. The wacky play propelled the Hornets to another Central Carolina Conference championship.

Without a doubt, that would be the Game of the Year, we all thought at the time.

That is, until four weeks later in the playoffs at High Point Andrews. Down 21 points in the fourth quarter, Salisbury rallied and won 36-35 on the foot of a 15-year-old kicker in the final seconds.

Even in the South Iredell loss, Salisbury was inside the 10 and couldn’t score in the final seconds.

The Hornets were the most exciting team in the county, always keeping our hearts pumping.

So how entertaining was football around here in 2012?

Salisbury wasn’t even the biggest story.

Go back to a certain East Rowan play in the very first game of the season. This was not a good Salisbury memory.

No one thought much about it when it happened. It was just a long, long touchdown pass from one twin brother to another. But it turned everyone’s attention to the eastern side of the county.

East was opening with Salisbury and its vaunted wishbone. New coach Danny Misenheimer had talked up the “Why not us?” theme all through the summer in Granite Quarry, But really now, did anyone take him seriously outside those East boundaries? The Mustangs had won all of one game the season before.

But then, sophomore quarterback Sam Wyrick wound up that strong right arm and fired a pass toward twin brother Seth. It turned into an 82-yard score that propelled East over Salisbury 21-14. East eventually won eight games and went to the third round of the playoffs.

So with those memories solidly lodged in your brain, it’s time for some all-county awards the athletic banquets may have overlooked.

Team of the Year: East Rowan, for obvious reasons.

A Real Friday Night Hero: East Rowan’s Dustin Mowery. On Sept. 28, there were still East doubters out there. Yeah, the Mustangs were 2-0 in the North Piedmont Conference but mighty West Rowan was coming in. West had been to four straight 3A state title games and had won 44 consecutive county games. And here were the Falcons, trailing 13-7, driving in the final seconds to the East 11. Tyler Stamp finds receiver Brandon Ijames closing in on the goal line. West was going to score, kick the extra point, and win 14-13.

But there was Mowery, pulling Ijames down on the 1 as the horn sounded.

At 3-0 in the NPC, we were taking East seriously.

Monsters of the Midway Award: How did the loss to East affect West? Over the final four games of the regular season, the Falcons outscored their opponents 172-6 with three straight shutouts. That’s right. 172-6.

West Rowan kept its streak alive of double-figure-win seasons.

ESPN Top 10 Play: To Salisbury’s Keion Adams. West’s Stamp fired a bullet over the middle that the 6-foot-3 stud picked off with one paw, rumbling 43 yards. It was one of those, ”Wow, did I really see that?” plays.

Streaks: West coach Scott Young is 11-0 against Salisbury. South coach Jason Rollins beat North Iredell to improve to 6-0 against the Raiders. Salisbury’s Joe Pinyan is 10-0 against Lexington.

Quote of the Year: During the pre-game prayer before South’s game against West Iredell, preacher Terry Brown’s voice boomed over the loud speaker:

“Lord, we sure could use a win.”

Which brings us to …
The Thanks, Lord Award: At 0-4, everyone had given up on South Rowan. So the Raiders went out and crushed West Iredell 40-20.

Which brings us to …
How Do You Spell Relief Award: To South’s Aaron Kennerly. With senior quarterback Nathan Lambert out early in the West Iredell game, sophomore Kennerly came in and immediately fired a scoring pass to Josh Medlin, starting that win. Later in the season, Kennerly came in when Lambert was injured and played like a seasoned vet.

They’re special: North Rowan ran back six kicks for scores.

The Bad Luck Award: To West’s Tyler Kennedy, who had four kick returns for scores, but also had four called back due to penalties.

The Workhorse Award: To Carson’s Brandon Sloop. The sophomore ran 37 times for 245 yards in a win over West Iredell.

He … Could … Go … All … The … Way: Ruffin and East’s Donte Means each had scores of 98 yards for the county’s longest touchdowns of the year.

For the record, there were seven players scoring touchdowns of at least 90 yards, including West’s Harvey Landy, North’s Kasaun Coney and Jareke Chambers and Carson’s K.J. Pressley. Ruffin had two over 90.

There were six scores of over 80 yards, 10 of 70 yards or more, 14 of 60 yards or more and 13 of at least 50.

The Kobe Bryant Award: North Rowan’s Trae Clark for scoring the most points in one game. He accounted for 25 in the Cavaliers’ 74-0 pasting of South Davidson. Clark kicked seven extra points, had a 75-yard kickoff return, a 50-yard fumble recovery for a score and ran back an interception 37 yards.

Runner-up: Ruffin scored five touchdowns and ran for 207 yards in a playoff win over Cuthbertson.

Most Photogenic: Salisbury’s Bauk was had the most photos in the Post, with 21, edging out Ruffin, who had 17.

For the record, there were 145 players in Rowan County who had photos with their name mentioned. That’s a heck of a lot of Jon C. Lakey photos and mug shots.

The most photographed coach was North’s first-year leader Joe Nixon with 15, nipping Salisbury coach Pinyan (13).

Yep, it was another exciting year of prep football. I can’t wait for the fall of 2013. How ’bout you?


Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com.

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