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It was on opening night 14 years ago that the Salisbury Hornets suffered through one of the worst nights in the school’s proud football history.
Salisbury was hosting West Rowan, a school the Hornets usually had beaten, but this time, the wheels came off.
Salisbury trailed 32-0 at halftime and lost to the Falcons 53-0, the most lopsided loss ever for a school that’s played football since 1915.
Looking back, that was an important game in Rowan County history. It was the night that 20-something coach Scott Young demonstrated to the rest of the county that it was a new day at West Rowan.
Young had gone 3-8 in his first year at West in 1998, including a 54-6 beatdown by Nick Maddox and A.L. Brown and county losses to North, South and East.
But that 53-0 destruction of Salisbury to open 1999 was the start of something. It was Young’s fourth career win. He now has 159.
Heroes from that eventful night for West included both Scooters, Sherrill and Dalton, along with South Legion baseball coach Ben Hampton, Jonathan Diggs and QB Jared Barnette, who is now a notable Rowan golfer. West got a special-teams TD from Justin Davis, now the track coach at Livingstone, and it got a monstrous defensive effort that held Salisbury to minus-28 rushing yards.
West used that thumping of Salisbury as a springboard to 8-3 in 1999. Back-to-back-to-back losses to Northwest Cabarrus, A.L. Brown and Concord kept West out of the 3A playoffs (it wasn’t that long ago when 8-3 didn’t guarantee a playoff berth), but West turned the corner. West has made the playoffs every year since 1999, except for 2001.
Things got no better for the 1999 Hornets after West got back on the bus. Salisbury would go 0-11 and would be outscored 382-91. The closest the Hornets came to tasting victory that season was a 21-12 loss to Lexington.
As we all know, Joe Pinyan would get the ship righted at Salisbury, shortly after he docked in 2003.
But the one thing Pinyan wasn’t able to accomplish at the helm of the Hornets was beating Young’s Falcons. Young’s teams are 11-0 against Salisbury, winning against the Hornets in 1998 (Young’s first career win), 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The schools didn’t meet in 2003-04 or 2007-08.
Coach Randall Ward’s last West team beat Salisbury 12-0 in 1997. That means West has 12 straight in the series.
To find a Salisbury victory over West, you have to go all the way back to 1996. Both teams struggled that season. West was 2-9. Salisbury went 2-8 but managed to beat the Falcons 18-7 behind Tavio Davis and Scottie Everhart.
It’s hard to believe, but the last group of Salisbury seniors to beat West are now 34 years old.
Salisbury hasn’t gone winless since 1999, and the Hornets should win their share this season despite opening with two county losses.
West brings unimposing defensive stats into the game, but the Falcons have played two 4A teams. Salisbury improved some in Week 2, but it still brings the county’s shakiest offense into the game. It’s not likely any streaks will be broken tonight: West 28, Salisbury 7
The Common Sense picks are off to an 8-2 start, including 4-0 last Friday. North Rowan has helped out by winning two county games it was predicted to win, but the Cavaliers have a tough assignment tonight. They’re on the road against a very good team and they won’t have starting quarterback Alexis Archie. After losing a close one to Hickory in Week 1, Statesville, which won 13 last season, is hungry for its first win. The Hounds were open last week, so they’ve had two weeks to prepare for North: Statesville 27, North 18
A.L. Brown didn’t really get tested last week by South Rowan, but it figures to be a different story tonight against new opponent Weddington, which won a conference championship in 2012 There will be a lot of green at Memorial Stadium with these two teams. Weddington has been impressive the first two weeks, so Common Sense will take the Warriors: Weddington 28, A.L. Brown 21
Lexington has been giving up points by the bushel, a trend that should continue. Davie back Cade Carney should have a field day: Davie 45, Lexington 20

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