Published 12:00 am Friday, November 29, 2013

Joe Nixon’s favorite Thanksgiving routine?
A few years from now, he hopes it’s hitting the practice field sporting the same grizzly playoff beard he currently dons.
The North Rowan coach led his team Thursday at a 9 a.m. practice at school. It was a necessity seeing that earlier in the week the team was having to bus over to an indoor facility with nasty weather blanketing the area.
Practicing on Thanksgiving is an honor for teams since it generally coincides with the third round of the state playoffs and is the unofficial marker of a great season. No one would argue that after seeing North go undefeated during the regular season and march to its first 13-win campaign ever.
Thursday, the team was fed a pancake breakfast from members of the community before practice. It’s the first time since 2001 since North has reached the third round so it was an occasion worth stuffing your face for on a day known for gluttony.
“We wanted to be able to give them something in the morning,” Nixon said. “It was great to be able to enjoy the food and fellowship with the fans.”
Spencer has enjoyed the ride and has shown its appreciation. The team has returned the favor. Last week, the North coaching staff painted four BGN logos on the field before the second-round playoff game against C.D. Owen. The term, short for Big Green Nation, has shown up on bumper stickers and twitter as the rallying cry for North.
Today, Nixon’s grateful as he should be. The Cavs are thankful for game-changing players like Jareke Chambers, Xavier Robinson and Kasaun Coney that have got them this far. North has stayed relatively healthy coming into tonight. There was an early-season scare when quarterback Alexis Archie broke his arm but the junior reappeared a month later and threw four touchdowns and ran for one last week against Owen. Offensive lineman Brandon Rabon is out after getting hurt last week but cornerback and noted punt-blocker Mike Robinson is good to go after missing some of the Owen game.
For Nixon, playing the day after is one more thing to love about Thanksgiving. Turkey is his holiday food of choice, but he’s not picky.
“I like eating about everything, you can look at me and tell that,” he says with a laugh.
A win tonight and the Cavs will reach another landmark. December football. The Cavaliers come into today 13-0 and it having been 13 years since they’ve faced Shelby. Their streak of holding teams scoreless stopped at 15 quarters last week and the Lions bode the fiercest test they’ve seen.
“They’re very fast and very athletic,” Nixon said. “There’s four great teams left in the 2A west and that’s the way it should be.”

North is preselling tickets to the game today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the school. If you plan on watching from the roof, get there early as it will be inundated with media. WSAT 1280 and WSTP 1490 will carry the games on the radio and the Post will provide double coverage of the Cavs yet again. Shelby is bringing two radio stations in addition to The Shelby Star.
North is the only game in the county for the second-straight week and with lots of folks home for the holiday weekend, it should be a capacity crowd tonight at Eagle Stadium.

Ryan Bisesi can be reached at 704-797-4258 or