McCall is all smiles
GRANITE QUARRY — Even after 14 knee surgeries, former East Rowan quarterback Barry McCall smiles a lot and hasn’t lost his love for sports.
“When you’re the quarterback for a 2-8 team on Friday, you’re probably going to be in an icepack on Saturday,” McCall said with a laugh.
McCall not only was the quarterback for the 2-8 Mustangs of 1988, he directed the 3-7 Mustangs of 1987. He shared quarterback duties with Brad Perry on the 1986 Mustangs his sophomore year. They went 0-10.
In the South Piedmont Conference, that meant a lot of sacks, a lot of bruises and a lot of icepacks.
So why is this man smiling?
Well, for one thing, he likes his job as a massage therapist. He worked for Budweiser 14 years, but he eventually gravitated toward becoming a licensed therapist. He wanted to give something back because there were good people who went the extra mile to help him recover when he was rehabbing.
He’s also smiling because of his family, which includes two young McCalls.
“I’m one of those people who lives to watch his kids play,” McCall said.
McCall’s daughter Jordan is the sophomore setter for East Rowan’s volleyball team, while 9-year-old Harrison is a promising baseball player who competes on high-powered travel teams.
Both are one-sport specialists. That’s changed. When McCall was growing up, the kids in the neighborhood played baseball, football and basketball in driveways, fields and backyards.
McCall’s introduction to sports came from his grandfather B.B. Honeycutt, who is well-known in Spencer, and his mother, Becky, who played basketball at North Rowan.
McCall insists he’s no legend, but he did OK.
Only 31 players have passed for 2,000 yards in Rowan County prep history. He’s one of them. He did it in 2 1/2 seasons on losing teams in a tough league.
His coach on that 1986 team was Kannapolis native Sonny Yow. Yow was ahead of his time with the run-and-shoot in a county that was run-run-run, but the Mustangs never found the win column. They had a chance in seven of those games.
“Brad Perry was the starting quarterback — and a good one — but he got hurt that year, and I came up from the jayvees as a sophomore,” McCall said. “I was scared to death.”
McCall’s first taste of success came in a 20-7 loss to North Stanly.
He threw two touchdown passes to Kevin Corpening in a loss against Central Cabarrus a few weeks later. Then, on Nov. 1, he tossed three scoring passes to senior Billy Brown.
“Forest Hills was No. 1 in the state and they beat us pretty bad (60-19),” McCall said. “Still, considering who we were playing against, I’ve always been proud of that game.”
W.A. Cline, who piloted East Rowan in its glory days in the 1960s and early 1970s, returned as head coach for the 1987 season.
McCall tore an ACL at the end of his sophomore year. He waited on a knee brace to arrive for his junior season. Cline told him he wasn’t playing without it. The brace finally came at 3 p.m. on opening day. McCall directed a win against Salisbury that same night.
“W.A. was a great man and great coach, but he was ground-and-pound,” Brown said. “I wanted to throw it around, so we disagreed a few times. It would be third-and-9 after two runs and he’d send in the next play — “Army 38” — another run up the middle. I’d change the play. He’d get mad. I remember there was a fourth-and-1 against Sun Valley, and W.A. yells from the sideline, ‘Quarterback sneak, and you’d better not change it!’ The Sun Valley linemen were licking their chops.”
East Rowan got tougher under Cline in 1987, but McCall, whose teammates included a guard named Scott Young, put the ball in the air only 122 times. He threw for eight touchdowns and 740 yards. Corpening was on the receiving end of six of those scoring passes.
“Kevin was so fast, the best athlete I had a chance to play with,” McCall said. “We had good individual players. We just never quite put it all together.”
In his senior season, McCall threw 146 times and completed 72 for 898 yards to lead the county.
He finished his career with 2,122 passing yards, 22 touchdowns — and five wins.
After graduation, McCall headed to Spartanburg Methodist to play baseball. His friend, Jeff Park, the Mustangs’ top running back, headed to Western Carolina.
“We were joking that the next time we saw each other we’d probably be wearing casts,” McCall said. “That’s exactly what happened. I tore my rotator cuff. Jeff broke his leg against Georgia Tech. We ran into each other a month later and we just shook our heads and laughed.”
McCall is still smiling, still laughing.
Follow Mike London on Twitter at @mikelondonpost3.