A.L. Brown Wonders look good vs. East Rowan
KANNAPOLIS — East Rowan’s football team struggled in Friday scrimmage at A.L. Brown’s Memorial Stadium, but the guys in green they were playing had a lot to do with that.
East receiver Seth Wyrick figured honesty was the best policy, so he didn’t sugarcoat a rough evening.
“Kannapolis was tough — their defense was fast and athletic as hell,” Wyrick said. “Just athletic as hell is about all I can say right now.”
While both teams will remain 0-0 officially for another week, they did keep score in a scrimmage that resembled real football except for special teams.
The Wonders prevailed 35-6.
East’s first-year coach Kenneth McClamrock expected more. He didn’t sugarcoat things either.
“This is a tough place to play and we were playing against a storied program with a lot of athletes,” he said. “That gave us a good measuring stick to tell us how far along we are. Unfortunately, what we found out is we are not very far. We did a lot of things wrong. Big things, little things, silly things.”
While McClamrock probably wanted to leave screaming, A.L. Brown coach Mike Newsome did some beaming.
Newsome is perpetually optimistic. If he ran out of gas on the highway, he’d be thrilled with the opportunity to get some exercise.
“Offense and defense, I thought everything went really well for us,” he said. “We were pleasantly surprised with our defense, to be honest, because we lost so many good ones, But that’s the Kannapolis tradition. Guys graduate, it’s another guy’s turn, and he steps up.”
The Wonders’ defense was the most consistent unit. East didn’t manage any serious running gains, and QB Samuel Wyrick often ran for his life when he tried to throw.
East didn’t make a first down for quite a while.
Offensively, the Wonders reeled off steady gains on the ground when they weren’t turning it over, but they turned it over three times.
“Even one turnover is too many,” Newsome said. “In our league, that’ll get you beat.”
Willie McCree and Shiheem Saunders (on a dive) made nice interceptions for the Mustangs, while Max Wall knocked a Wonders’ helmet off.
“We did make some plays on defense, but when we did, we didn’t take advantage of it,” McClamrock said.
Jalen Cagle, a junior, broke a 65-yard run for the first points, and it was 14-0 after 210-pound R.J. Fowler barreled to the East 1 on a tackle-breaking run, and Casey Walker put the ball in the end zone.
East was able to make it 14-6 on an improvisational broken play by the Wyrick brothers. Samuel was chased toward the right sideline, but he extended the play and was able to make an accurate pass to Seth at the goal-line.
“I saw he was in trouble, so I just kept running back across the field to him,” Seth said. “Sam just made a great play there. He does that,”
The Wyricks came close to hooking up on a long TD on a wheel route, but Sam was pressured and underthrew and the ball glanced off a recovering Wonder DB’s helmet.
While it was still 14-6 at the break, the Wonders’ made it 21-6 when 6-foot-6 sophomore Josh Endicott, who is competing with junior Damon Johnson for the QB job, fired a 45-yard strike to Walker for a score.
“Both our quarterbacks threw some of the best balls they’ve thrown in the preseason tonight,” praised Newsome. “Josh threw that touchdown pass hard, and the safety couldn’t get over.”
The Wonders made it 28-6 with a defensive touchdown from Brandon White, a guy who is pretty well-known in the SPC. He’s talented and was Northwest Cabarrus’ starting QB last season, but he’s now a Wonder.
“He’s already in our nickel package as a DB,” Newsome said. “That was awfully big for him to make a play like that.”
The Wonders expected to be fine on the offensive line, where they have four starters back, and that group had little trouble opening holes. Robert Lyles, a reserve back, broke through a big gap up the middle to make it 35-6.
Seth Wyrick made another outstanding catch with less than 2 seconds on the clock. That was a sign that the Mustangs are going to keep playing until the clock is all zeroes.
A.L. Brown and East haven’t played in a regular-season game since 2004 when Will Orbin coached East to a stunning win over the Wonders. McClamrock, who came over from Concord, is East’s fifth coach since Orbin, but he’s hoping to bring stability to the program.
“Ken’s a good coach with a good squad,” Newsome said. “But when you’ve got a new coach with a new system, it takes time. He’ll get everyone in the right places and with the talent they’ve got they should be fine.”
Both teams have their work cut out next Friday on the road.
The Wonders go to Concord. Enough said.
East will see another green team with plenty of athletes — North Rowan.