Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 25, 2013

North Rowan’s Xavier Robinson graced the cover of the Post’s preseason football preview in August, and he’s here again when we’re finally done covering football in 2013.
Robinson is the County Defensive Player of the Year. There are plenty of great players on the North defense, but Robinson is a coach’s dream. Well-conducted in public and never one to miss a team function, it’s easy to see why Robinson is the pick on a more than capable defensive unit.
Consider this a well-deserved Christmas present for the leader of a group that carried a team to a 13-1 record and a No. 1 ranking in the state for much of the year.
“He’s probably the most athletic linebacker I’ve coached in nine years,” North defensive coordinator Stevie Williams said. “The speed and strength he has and the want to get better makes him one of the better linebackers to come through the county.”
Pretty strong words considering the linebackers in the area that include Carson’s MyQuon Stout and Salisbury’s Clint Comadoll.
Two days before the season started, Robinson, dubbed ‘Zay’ by teammates and coaches, appeared on camera for the first Roaming The County show of the season. It almost looked like he did 100 pushups prior to camera time. He appeared to be unfit for a uniform that hardly contain his chiseled frame.
“He’s a hard weight room guy,” North coach Joe Nixon said. “He didn’t miss any workouts over the summer.”
After a crushing loss to West Montgomery in the first round of the playoffs last year, Robinson and the defense vindicated themselves this season. The Warriors scored with less than 10 seconds left to end the Cavs’ season in 2012, but last month the scoreboard showed a fat 0 under the visitor label in a 42-0 win against Surry Central. This time, the first round went a lot smoother. It was part of a 15-quarter spurt where North didn’t allow any points.
“We just had to prove a point,” Robinson said. “We had to show everybody in the county that was talking bad about North Rowan.”
Robinson showed leadership in a the Cavs’ hard-earned win against Carson in the second week. North had just one offensive touchdown in the first half but was picked up by the defense. Kenyon Tatum took in a fumble for a touchdown from 48 yards out. Robinson caught an interception and ran it back for a touchdown.
Against C.D. Owen, Robinson laid a hit on a running back that was especially illustrative of Robinson’s strength.
“He folded that guy up like he was a middle-school player,” Williams said.
Robinson was taken off on a stretcher in the third-round defeat to Shelby after what looked to be a threatening neck injury. He turned out to be okay and was in good spirits at the all-county photo shoot. When the final whistle of his final prep game blew, he was in a hospital bed, but that didn’t overshadow a one-of-a-kind season.
“He’s the type of guy that you want to be around,” North defensive lineman Cecil McCauley said.
Western Carolina and Elizabeth City State have offered Robinson, who finished with 145 tackles, three interceptions and five forced fumbles. He had 16 tackles for loss. And don’t discount his ability to run the ball. Robinson scored eight touchdowns on the ground.
“For a linebacker, that’s amazing,” McCauley said. “Just for him to do that, it shows how much of a leader he is.”
Robinson has to submit standardized test scores, but college football seems very likely for the young man whose smile is almost as wide as his biceps. Robinson is a ardent workout guy and runs a 4.48 40-yard dash.
“He’s a physical, fast football player and we’re gonna miss him next year,” Nixon said.