The prep football notebook …
Like other Rowan County Schools last Friday, East Rowan honored the memory of Ronnie Gallagher, the longtime Post sports editor who died unexpectedly earlier in the day.
Mustang PA announcer Mike Lippard made a few remarks about Ronnie and his contributions to high school sports, and then the teams and fans from Salisbury and East observed a moment of silence just prior to kickoff.
STATEMENT: A shutout is a shutout, and the East Rowan defense was determined to notch one against Salisbury. The Mustangs pounced on five fumbles and snatched one interception. Linebacker Dock Corpening was the key man with a fumble recovery and two forced fumbles on sacks. Corpening credited Austin Hill and the rest of the defensive line for breaking through and allowing him to roam free in the Hornet backfield. In addition to Corpening, Hill, Robert Barringer, Marcus Warren and Michael Collins recovered fumbles, while defensive back Willie McCree had the pick.
East blanked Salisbury for the first time since 1984 when the Mustangs opened the season by beating the Hornets 18-0.
STOPS: East’s defense got four stops when Salisbury attempted to convert on fourth down. The final stop came late with victory already secured, but the East defense still stood firm, based on what Coach Misenheimer called, “just pride and determination.”
With four minutes left in the game, Salisbury’s Kreshon Alexander snagged a 23-yard Riley Myers pass and appeared to get into the end zone. But the officials ruled him down and spotted the ball just inside the 1. A run up the middle yielded no gain. Then Myers was stuffed on a keeper at the 2 by Daniel Jones and a host of Mustangs. Alexander dove to the 1 on third down. The final attempt was a pitch to Alexander, but penetration by the left side of the defense tripped him up and preserved the shutout.
“That goal line stand was just huge,” Misenheimer said.
LIGHTNING BOLTZ: Junior fullback Jake Boltz has been a bright spot for East’s running game, with star halfback Calvin Edwards sidelined by injury.
Boltz rushed for 39 yards opening night, then added 37 more on 11 carries Friday. Included in the effort was a 2-yard dive in the second quarter for his first varsity touchdown.
Lippard, enthusiastic as always, exclaimed that “Mark Boltz” had just scored for East. Mark is Jake’s dad and he did score numerous times for the Mustangs back in the day, but he now enjoys watching his son play up close as a longtime member of the East chain gang. Mark came to the press box at halftime and set the record straight for the sake of his son. It was no doubt the first of many touchdowns to come for the real Jake Boltz.
NOAH KIDDING: The leading rusher for the Mustangs was, wait for it … Noah Drye.
The senior receiver and defensive back used to be primarily a quarterback, and he showed he can add another dimension to the offensive attack with his speed. He only carried the ball four times, all in the second half, but he went 33 yards on an end-around and went 37 yards on an option keeper as the QB. He finished with 79 yards of East’s 169 rushing yards.
Salisbury graduated the skill-position performers from the 2012 Western 2AA finalists and a lack of experience and depth has been evident in an 0-2 start.
“Our youth is just hurting us right now,” coach Ryan Crowder said. “We’re having to use a lot of freshmen and sophomores. It’s just going to take us a while to come around and be ready for our conference season.”
Despite failing to score against East, the Hornets did show offensive improvement from an opening loss to Carson in which the Hornets’ offense managed only 89 yards. Against the Mustangs, Salisbury netted 138 yards and 12 first downs and mounted a couple of sustained drives. But turnovers and a stout East defense kept the Hornets out of the end zone.
OPTIMISM: Junior Riley Myers has inherited the quarterback job at Salisbury and is following the multi-talented Brian Bauk.
After an outstanding jayvee career Myers has faced an uphill battle so far, but he’s optimistic about the rest of the campaign.
“We can be really good if we just do the right things,” Myers said. ”If we block the right people and run the right routes we can be great. But we just hurt ourselves with fumbles. We need to get better each week and be ready when our conference season starts.”
Myers had positive moments in the East Rowan game with 74 passing yards out of the option. But a pair of fumbles on sacks reduced Myers’ net rushing yards to 24. He and 6-foot-4 senior wide receiver Jon Mark Petty connected for three completions for 41 yards
The Hornets are still trying to find the right combination for their running game, which has historically been potent. Salisbury used five different running backs against the Mustangs. Sophomore Willie Clark led the group with 33 yards on nine carries.
FRUSTRATION: Salisbury had 12 official possessions against East, and all ended badly. Five times, the Hornets lost fumbles including a crucial one that ended a promising opening drive at the East 14. Four times, the Hornets were stopped on downs. Twice the Hornets punted. They also had a snap sail over Petty’s head on a punt attempt and out of the end zone for a safety.
“If we could just hold on to the ball, it could’ve been a completely different ballgame,” Crowder lamented. “You just can’t do those types of things against a team like East and expect to be successful.”
West kicker Zack Russell contributed four PATs, a 37-yard field goal and some great kickoffs to West’s 31-27 win against Davie.
“Zack’s accuracy on kickoffs, his ability to execute directional kicks was instrumental in us winning the game,” West coach Scott Young said.
WEEKS IS STRONG: Keyows Weeks hasn’t played football in two years, but he was suddenly thrust into a starting role at tailback when Daisean Reddick went down with an opening-night ankle injury.
Weeks did OK in an emergency situation at Mooresville, but then he excelled in the win against Davie.
“Keyows had a great game and was one of our heroes,” Young said.
Weeks, who pronounces his first name “Key-owes”, scored the decisive TD on a tackle-breaking 30-yard run and also had a run of 33 yards. He rushed for 142 yards total and exited the game as the No. 2 rusher in the county. Not bad for a backup.
Reddick hoped to be medically cleared this week to return Friday.
FILLING IN: West’s offensive unit had all sorts of injury issues entering the Davie game. Not only was Reddick out, so were starting offensive linemen Trey Brawley and Jacob Radtke and receiver Chris Patterson.
Marshall Ball filled in for Brawley at center, with Hezekiah Banks stepping in at tackle for Radtke. Shakir Simmons and Devin Parks got more snaps at receiver with Patterson out and both had a big catch.
“Guys stepped up and did all we could’ve asked for,” West quarterback Harrison Baucom said. “The offensive line played phenomenal, and Weeks ran strong all night.”
DEFENSE: Young praised the work of cornerback Raykwon Torrence.
“We’ve yelled a lot at our defensive guys so far,” Young said. “We haven’t had to yell at him much. He’s been solid.”
STREAKS: By beating Davie, West (1-1) still hasn’t lost on back-to-back weeks since 2002. West has lost only one home game since the 2007 playoffs, and that was to a South Carolina team.
KEY MOMENT: On a crucial fourth-and-2 in the fourth quarter, West safety Najee Tucker stopped Davie back Cade Carney short of the sticks.
“Najee hit him at the line of scrimmage. Carney still fell forward for a yard and a half, but he needed 2 yards,” Young said.
QB: Harrison Baucom’s completion percentage isn’t ideal, but he’s making big plays. In the Davie game, the junior had a 65-yard completion to Darius Gabriel and hit a 38-yard pass to Shakir Simmons. He also ran for a 10-yard score.
Baucom has rushed for 130 yards and passed for 258.
Davie (0-2) has lost five straight to West, although four of them could’ve gone either way.
Coach Devore Holman is still optimistic.
“We played better than we did the first week,” he said. “There are going to be peaks and valleys in every season, but there were a lot of positive steps tonight.”
DUNN DEAL: Quick Davie back Seth Dunn caught a TD pass for the second straight week and beat West’s defensive to the edge on jet sweeps several times.
BEAT UP: Davie’s defense is injury-riddled, but it got a lift from the return of linebacker Sam Nesbit.
“He’s still not 100 percent, but he played big tonight,” Holman said.
North’s 34-15 win against Carson marked the most points the Cavaliers have ever scored against Carson.
Carson still leads the all-time series 4-3.
CHAMBER OF HORRORS: North’s JaReke Chambers likes playing against Carson. He’s scored six touchdowns in his two games against the Cougars, and he’s the biggest reason North has beaten the Cougars the last two seasons.
TATUM TIME: If the season ended today, North newcomer Kenyon Tatum probably would be declared defensive player of the year in the county. Tatum already has two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
BACK TO WORK: PATS could hurt the Cavaliers in a close game. While North has scored 10 TDs in two games, it has tacked on only five extra points, North is 1-for-3 kicking PATS and 2-for-7 going for two. Chambers and Alexis Archie have one conversion run each.
WHO ARE THESE GUYS?: North plays at Statesville’s Greyhound Hollow on Friday. North hasn’t battled the Greyhounds since 1966.
Brandon Huneycutt scored his first varsity TD in the loss to North.
Huneycutt scored on a 16-yard pass from Austin McNeill late in the first half. It was the 32nd career TD pass for McNeill.
PAUL PICK: Tyrese Paul made the first interception of his varsity career for the Cougars and also broke up a pass attempt.
CONSISTENT: Coach Joe Pinyan lauded linebackers Anthony McCurry and Patrick Ratliff for the second straight week.
ISOM-ETRICS: Carson back Darren Isom is often under the radar because of teammate Brandon Sloop’s big numbers.
Isom’s 82 yards against North matched his career high. He also had 82 last season against Northwest Cabarrus.
Isom rushed for 547 yards in 2012 and has 110 in 2013.
“He’s had a lot of quality carries for us,” Pinyan said.
MISTAKES: Carson’s offense has turned the ball over a scary 10 times in two games, so the Cougars are fortunate to be 1-1.
“Turnovers and gifts,” Pinyan said. “It’s a lot better game with North if we take care of the footbaii. It was a very physical game, but that should help both teams.”
In a 41-6 loss to A.L. Brown, South receiver Tyler Fuller usually lined up a solo receiver on one side, with South sending trips to the other side.
Fuller had three catches for 53 yards, including a catch on which he jumped over a defender.
Fuller, a baseball prospect as an outfielder, has a lot of speed. He has been clocked in 6.6 in the 60-yard dash, the distance at which baseball players are timed.
FOOT NOTE: A.L. Brown coaches were tremendously impressed with the kickoffs of South’s Brennan Lambert.
Lambert can put his kickoffs in the end zone. The trick is for South to score TDs so he can kick off. The Raiders have two TDs in two games.
PICKOFFS: South’s first two interceptions of the campaign came from Burke Fulcher and Bryson Deaton.
ONE-SIDED: South has now lost 17 of its last 19 meetings with A.L. Brown. The Raiders won in 2003 and 2009.
A.L. Brown coach Mike Newsome announced that the Wonders’ award winners for the South game were Casey Walker (three TDs) for offense, safety Kenan Jones for defense and punter Matt Brown for special teams.
Kaleb Spry was named Hawg of the Week, and Newsome joked that the big center might be Hawg of the Week every week.
Safety Daveon Perry had the hit of the week.
MORE TO COME: The Wonders’ Friday Night Hero this week is senior middle linebacker Kyrell Williamson, one of the team captains. A story on him is planned for Friday’s edition.
Mike London, Ryan Bisesi, Marny Hendrick and Brian Pitts contributed to the notebook.