GRANITE QUARRY — Even at the prep level, football has been a year-round sport for some time.
Programs in transition like East Rowan don’t have time for the beach or the ballpark in the summer months. With the first official day of practice still two weeks away, East’s practice field was occupied by the varsity and jayvee teams Tuesday. Last year’s feel-good story of the 8-5 Mustangs hasn’t made them fat and happy. In fact coach Danny Misenheimer himself has worked hard as he’s down about 40 pounds despite breaking his bicep in the spring.
The same focus exists with his team. A ‘beat North Rowan’ sign hangs in the locker room and has for the bulk of the offseason. The accolades of last year are gone, cherished memories for a program that had been on hard times.
The Mustangs faced off against Mt. Pleasant in a 7-on-7 scrimmage at home in another chapter of a busy offseason. Misenheiemer’s run-heavy veer offense doesn’t lend itself to 7-on-7’s very well, but the coaching staff was more concered about the opposite side of the ball where eight impact players have moved on. Key defenders such as linebacker Tyler L’Hommedieu, nose guard T.J. Jefferson and defensive back Dalton Bost have graduated.
“For us, it’s about our defense,” Misenheimer said. “Our passing is kind of out of our element. Not being able to run the ball and not having linebackers and defensive backs playing the run makes it hard for us to pass. “
“But our kids are running the routes like they’re supposed to be run and the quarterbacks are getting their arms loose.”
Opponents know East is a capable team now and it shows. The first pass of the day for East was an interception although the passes got more crisp as the night progressed.
Joshua Moses was one of the imposing figures on the field. Moses played linebacker last year but the Mustangs hope to use the transfer from Alaska as a cornerback. Last year was Moses’ first year in organized football after playing soccer.
“He’s doing a great job for us,” Misenheimer said. “We caught him in the weight room. We moved him around and found him a home at corner. He’s going to play in college.”
Quarterback Sam Wyrick is back for his junior season as is brother Seth Wyrick at receiver.
Senior running back Calvin Edwards was all-county last year and should be in the mix for the county’s top rusher.
On defense, safety Donte Means was the county leader in interceptions with five and he ran back two for touchdowns. Means had a 65-yard interception return for touchdown in an iconic win against West Rowan last year.
Outside linebacker Dock Corpening has received attention from Furman, Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina. Corpening was pivotal in a second-round playoff win against Rockingham County.
East snapped West Rowan’s 11-year unbeaten streak in the county last year and reached the third round of the state players before falling to Concord. The Spiders are on the schedule this year in the South Piedmont Conference.
East, who starts the season against North on Aug. 23, has faced Davie twice in 7-on-7 action and went to Elon for a four-day camp. Misenheimer said the Mustangs held their own against defending state champion Northern Guilford.
“To be able to hold your own against teams like that is great,” Misenheimer said. “We’ve gotten some good experience.”
East will hold a midnight practice the night of July 31 to start the season.
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