Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 13, 2013

SPENCER — Nick Means is still in the Catawba record book for his 185 catches and 2,796 career receiving yards, so when the North Rowan assistant talks about running routes and catching passes, Cavaliers listen.
“What they told me back in high school (Thomasville) is that even an offensive linemen can catch a pass and fall down with it,” Means said. “What separates the top receivers is what they do after they make the catch. The really good ones turn into running backs after the catch.”
North wideout Darrell Taylor was a running back after the catch in Friday’s 41-0 victory against Salisbury that capped North’s 11-0 regular season. Taylor’s 25-yard TD opened the scoring, and he had major yards after the catch on a 56-yard scoring play that made it 20-0 in the second quarter.
Quarterback Alexis Archie had 166 passing yards Friday. About 66 of them came via Taylor’s legs.
On the first TD, both Archie and Taylor saw a blitz coming.
“I saw No. 6 (Jordan Oglesby) blitz right past me,” Taylor said.
Taylor knew what to do.
“Taylor made an adjustment in his route and ran to open space,” North head coach Joe Nixon said. “And Archie made the right read.”
Means was ecstatic to see Taylor make a play.
“We give our kids a formula, but they’re not robots,” he explained. “We expect them to be able to make an adjustment depending on how a defense reacts, and it’s always nice when your quarterback and receiver are on the same page.”
North was in a four-wide set on Taylor’s 56-yard score. Archie noted that Salisbury had only one deep safety.
“Archie got the ball out fast right over a linebacker to Taylor, and then Taylor did a great job of getting away from tacklers and getting the ball to the end zone,” Nixon said.
Taylor credited fellow wideout Cameron Sifford.
“Cam shielded every defender away from me, and I just followed him,” Taylor said.
Taylor finished the night with four catches for 104 yards. The senior has had an unusual season. He has 13 catches for 295 yards, but almost all of his receiving production has come in two nights. He had a five-catch, 128-yard effort when Archie threw for 361 yards in a 53-12 breeze against West Davidson.
“This was just one of those nights when things came my way,” Taylor said.
North was an I-formation team in 2012 when it went 8-4. It switched to the spread this season to maximize the abilities of its athletes, but while North is more balanced than last year, it is still a run-first team. The Cavaliers have rushed for nearly 2.952 yards while throwing for 1,374.
Means explained what the spread would mean to wideout crew that also includes Sakil Harrison (34 catches, 514 yards, 6 TDs) and Sifford (16 catches, 330 yards, 3 TDs).
“The big thing for our receivers was to understand there were going to be nights when we wouldn’t need to throw and there would be nights when he would have big leads and we would stop throwing,” Means said. “But they still had to stay in those games and keep blocking for their teammates even when they didn’t have passes being thrown their way.”
Nixon and Means agree Taylor has handled his all-blocking nights well.
“And the thing is,” Means continued, “you still have to be ready when your number is called as a receiver. If you’re not ready, then your number may not get called again.”
Taylor probably can expect to get his number called more often as North enters the playoffs. The competition will pick up. North probably will have to throw more, but Taylor might take some short passes a long way.
“Another thing I learned in high school is that you always run like that field is 200 yards long,” Means said. “That’s what I tell our guys. Keep running until you find the end zone.”