Prep Football Notebook: Rush hour for Rowan County
By Mike London
Prep football notebook …
Rowan County teams will be playing their eighth games Friday, and that means running backs will start rumbling past the 1,000-yard milestone.
It used to be called the 1,000-yard barrier, but it’s surpassed so frequently now that barrier doesn’t really fit anymore.
The Post has always used 1969 as the dividing line for the modern era when it come to stats. That’s when full school integration arrived, so that’s a logical point from which to start.
Starting with North Rowan’s Kenny Stoner, the original 1,000-yard man in 1969, there have been 72 1,000-yard rushing seasons in the county. We’re not talking about 72 different people. West Rowan’s K.P. Parks was responsible for four of those 72. Several others have had multiple 1,000-yard campaigns, although only Parks had four.
From 1969-1999, there were 26 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Since 2000, we’ve seen 46. In 2012 alone, eight players brushed aside the 1,000-yard plateau like it was a tackling dummy.
In recent seasons, we’ve even seen two QBs — Salisbury’s John Knox and Brian Bauk — roll past 1,000 rushing yards. In 2011, Salisbury almost put its whole wishbone backfield over 1,000. Three made it. The other topped 900.
West Rowan has produced a 1,000-yard back every year since 1999 when Scooter Dalton got the train rolling. That’s always a point of pride for the Falcons’ offensive linemen.
There are a lot of factors in the explosion of 1,000-yard runners. Since 1994, teams have played 11-game regular seasons instead of 10. It’s also a lot easier to make the playoffs now than it used to be. More playoff games translate to more yards.
Games are higher-scoring now, and stats are bigger. A 100-yard rushing game used to be a big deal. Now fans yawn unless someone gets 200. At A.L. Brown the other night, Vance’s Donnavan Spencer rushed for 405.
A more subtle factor in the rising tide of rushing numbers has been the success of ground-oriented coaches Scott Young and Joe Pinyan. Their teams win a lot and always play more than 11 games.
Joe Nixon hasn’t been around as long, but he’s brought a consistent running attack back to North Rowan. The Cavaliers didn’t have a 1,000-yard back from 2004-2011, but Jareke Chambers will soon top 1,000 for the third straight season.
As far as those 72 1,000-yard rushing seasons, West Rowan has produced 21. Next in line are Salisbury (18), North Rowan (12), South Rowan (9), East Rowan (8) and Carson (4). There hasn’t been a year in the county without a 1,000-yard rusher since 1998.
Carson senior Brandon Sloop could be the first to pound past 1,000 in 2014. It will the third time for Sloop. He has 956 yards, although he’ll be up against a very stout Concord defense Friday.
Shrine Bowler Chambers (859) will be galloping against West Davidson and is a good bet to get to 1,000 Friday. West Rowan’s Harrison Baucom (838) and Carson’s Darren Isom (801) are also sure things for 1,000 in the near future if they stay healthy.
There’s also Salisbury’s Willie Clark (620 yards) to think about. He’s very close to a 1,000-yard pace and has been finding bigger holes the last few weeks.
The Falcons didn’t scare anyone in struggling SPC wins against Northwest Cabarrus and South Rowan, but they’ve gotten their offense going. While all teams had to worry about early in the season was tailback Harrison Baucom, the Falcons have gotten huge games from receivers Kortez Weeks and Juwan Houston, QB Kacey Otto and tailback Jovon Quarles in the last two weeks. West Rowan has scored 93 points in SPC victories against Carson and Central Cabarrus.
The Falcons (6-1, 4-0 SPC) have gotten healthier and should have their full offense on the field when receiver Shakir Simmons returns to duty.
• Houston’s breakout game in Friday’s 50-31 win against Central Cabarrus included five catches for 206 yards and four TDs.
“We got on him a little bit for running out of bounds in the Carson game,” West Rowan head coach Scott Young said. “Against Central, he made some cuts back to the middle of the field. and he’s not an easy guy to catch.”
Houston’s four TD receptions matched a school mark set by Horatio Everhart, who had four TD catches in a second-round playoff game against High Point Andrews in 2000.
Head coach Joe Nixon hated lightning ended Friday’s 35-12 win at Lexington early because the Cavaliers were starting to roll.
“We played the best we’ve played all season in the third quarter,” Nixon said. “The defense was flying to the football and getting stops, and the offense was moving the ball.”
• Unranked in 2A, North Rowan (5-2, 1-0) is getting healthier. Receiver Shareef Walker, a key guy, returned last week and made a big play. Another outstanding receiver, Shakil Harrison, could be back as soon as Friday.
“We haven’t had our full offense except for the Carson game,” Nixon said.
• North Rowan leads the county in rushing defense, total defense (yardage) and scoring defense.
Salisbury (2-5, 1-0 CCC) had its best rushing night in Friday’s 34-28 CCC win against East Davidson.
The Hornets piled up 340 rushing yards, the most they’ve had since the final game of the 2012 season.
Clark (158 yards) and Antwond Glenn (130) led the way.
• DB Shaquez Strickland picked off his third pass of the season for the Hornets and leads the county.
Kicker/receiver Brennan Lambert scored all 13 points for South Rowan (2-5, 1-4 SPC) in a 36-13 SPC loss to Carson.
Lambert had a TD and a PAT and was the first Raider to kick two field goals in a game since Devin Beaver booted two in a 26-19 loss to Salisbury in 2004. Beaver kicked five that season,
South Rowan has a history of good kickers. Patrick Edwards kicked seven field goals in 2002. Robby Basinger kicked seven in 1999 and 10 in 2000.
• Marshall Long averaged almost 46 yards per punt against Carson.
• Sophomore Austin Chrismon threw his first TD pass.
Seth Wyrick had nine catches for 147 yards in Friday’s 50-6 SPC win against Northwest Cabarrus. Wyrick has 134 career catches, fourth in county history.
The only guys ahead of him now are Lamont Savage (158 at North Rowan at West Rowan), Dre Byrd (142, North Rowan) and Johnny Yarbrough (136). Yarbrough holds the East Rowan record.
Wyrick has 2,050 receiving yards and is fifth on the all-time county list.
• Samuel Wyrick threw three TD passes and had 56 for his career. The county record is 66 by West Rowan’s B.J. Sherrill.
• Wesley Porter had a fumble recovery and an interception for the Mustangs (3-4, 2-3 SPC) against Northwest Cabarrus.
Carson (3-4, 2-2 SPC) continues to set the pace as far as county rushing yards with 323.4 yards per game. Carson has never had two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season, but Sloop and Isom are certain to make that happen this year.
Isom leads the county with 16 touchdowns.
• Carson’s defense also is improving, especially its run-stopping numbers, but it will be challenged by Concord’s standout back Rocky Reid, a Shrine Bowler, on Friday.
• Heath Mitchem had his best punting game in a 36-13 win against South Rowan, averaging better than 40 yards per punt.
The Wonders (4-3, 2-1 MECKA) received sad, shocking news over the weekend with the death of Ron Massey, 56, who led the Wonders for 11 seasons from 2000-10, put up a 120-32 record and took A.L. Brown to the 2008 3AA state championship game.
Massey’s funeral will be held Thursday at 4 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Kannapolis.
• The Wonders have a tough one on the road Friday at talented Hough.
Davie (4-3, 0-2 CPC) is still seeking its first league win and it’s unlikely to happen Friday against unbeaten West Forsyth, which may be even better than Reagan and North Davidson, teams that scored 117 points against the War Eagles the last two weeks.
Mike London: 704-797-4259; twitter.com/mikelondonpost3
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