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Prep Football: Previews, Carson the early leader

By Mike London


Friday’s high school football previews for Week 3:
As Carson coach Joe Pinyan cheerfully pointed out, we’re only two weeks into the season and Carson is Rowan County’s only undefeated team.
If you’re not a Carson fan, you’ll want it mentioned that the Cougars have played only once while the other five schools have played twice.
If you are a Carson fan, you’ve already started dreaming about the Cougars claiming the school’s first county championship.
Carson’s 44-26 road victory over North Rowan raised eyebrows and expectations. After all, North won at East Rowan in Week 1, and East throttled Salisbury in Week 2.
Carson and East are the only Rowan schools that will play everyone else in the county.
Playing in a 10-team league with nine SPC games, West doesn’t have North or Salisbury on the schedule.
North isn’t playing South, but that’s not unusual. North and South haven’t played in almost a decade.
Carson’s win over North is significant because North was declared the Post’s mythical county champion in 2013 and 2014. North earned that title by going 3-0 each year in county games, and while the Cavaliers didn’t play West, they did defeat a Rowan team (Carson in 2013, East in 2014) that beat West.
The year before that was complicated, as no one went unbeaten in county games. Give a nod to East as 2012 county champ. East beat West and Salisbury and went 4-1 in county games. East lost to North, but the Cavaliers lost to Salisbury and West. Like I said, it was complicated.
For a long time before 2012, it wasn’t complicated. From 2002-2011, West virtually eliminated debate about county championships by winning every county game it played. Even when Salisbury won a state title in 2010, the Hornets took it on the chin from the Falcons. Salisbury went 3-0 in county games in 2004 but didn’t play West. Salisbury went 4-0 on the field in county games in 2008, but didn’t play West and forfeited a victory to North.
You have to go back to 1995 to find a season in which Salisbury logically could be crowned as the county’s best.
South’s most recent undisputed county title came in 2000 when the Raiders went 4-for-4 in county games. West went undefeated in the SPC that year, while North was perfect in the CCC, but South, arguably the greatest Rowan team ever to be denied a playoff berth, beat both of them.
Maybe it’s finally Carson’s turn this year, but there’s a long way to go, and the Falcons will have a lot to say about who the county champion is. North and East aren’t out of the picture, either. And if Salisbury upsets Carson, well, it’s a five-team race.
West and South are off tonight.
Tonight’s games
Salisbury (1-1) at Carson (1-0)
Carson rushed for only 108 yards in a 44-26 win against North Rowan while throwing for 153, a strange occurrence that intrigued Pinyan, who enjoys his well-earned reputation as a run-run-run coach.
When was the last time a Pinyan-coached team had more passing than rushing yards? That would be Carson’s playoff loss to Forestview in 2013.
As far as the last time a Pinyan-led team won a game when it passed for more yards than it ran, you have to go back to Salisbury’s epic comeback in a 2010 playoff game against Shelby. That game was the springboard for the Hornets’ state title.
Sophomore Owen White was the guy responsible for those 153 passing yards, and he and the Cougars will try to build on their strong opener tonight.
Carson’s defense, led by linebacker Ryan Bearden, won the turnover battle 5-1, the biggest stat of all in the victory over the Cavaliers.
While Salisbury is an underdog on the road, the Hornets are fast and they’re dangerous if they avoid turnovers. Salisbury was held under 200 yards of offense in a 33-0 loss to East Rowan, but the Hornets have proven offensive weapons in backs Willie Clark and Antwond Glenn and receiver Will Steinman.
Salisbury leads the series 5-3. Carson built a 28-0 halftime lead and held on to win 42-35 last year.
Carson is 2-0 in the series since Pinyan switched from Salisbury to Carson. Salisbury’s last win in the series was a 68-28 romp in 2012.
The game will be broadcast on 1280-AM and 1140-AM.

North Rowan (1-1) at Statesville (1-0)
Statesville’s mobile QB Travis Ramseur has been around forever. The senior was 18-for-26 for 265 passing yards last season when the Greyhounds held off North Rowan, 21-14, in Spencer.
Ramseur was an efficient 6-for-9 for 117 yards and rushed for 84 as the Greyhounds opened their season two weeks ago with a resounding 43-21 win against Hickory.
Nakendrick Clark, a 205-pound running back, will present problems for the Cavaliers, even though they’re good against the run. Clark broke a 96-yarder against Hickory and piled up 236 rushing yards.
Running back Xavier Haley has keyed North’s offense with 285 rushing yards, but the Cavaliers self-destructed in last week’s 44-26 loss to Carson with five turnovers.
Defensive ends Zion DeBose and Jake Pritchard are exceptional players for North, but the Cavs’ secondary is still learning. North has allowed five TD passes in two games.
Kicker Jacob Young, injured in the Carson game, is expected to return. That helps North’s chances.
Statesville leads the series 3-1-1. North’s win was 39-33 at Greyhound Hollow in 2013.

Concord (1-1) at East Rowan (1-1)
This is the SPC opener for both teams and pits East coach Kenneth McClamrock, a Concord graduate, against his old school and his coaching mentor Glen Padgett.
The series has been mostly pain for the Mustangs, who are 3-38-1 against Concord. East won in 1969, 1979 and 2009. The teams battled to a scoreless tie in 1963.
Max Wall will likely be the quarterback for the Mustangs. Keith Tillman, who scored four TDs in last week’s 33-0 romp against Salisbury, powers East’s running game. Receiver Naquis Caldwell has eight catches for 198 yards and three TDs.
Concord rebounded from a 26-15 loss to A.L. Brown to batter Albemarle 49-12 last week.
Concord is mostly a passing team, with experienced QB Keenan Black throwing downfield for tall, athletic Hamsah Nasirildeen and flipping short passes and screens to Carter Mozingo.
The Spiders’ other strength is a defensive line anchored by veterans Dez Scott and Mike Baker.
Concord’s placekicker is a girl — junior Marisa James. She kicked a PAT in Concord’s 29-12 win against East last season.

A.L. Brown (2-0) at NW Cabarrus (0-1)
It could get out of hand quickly, but at least it should be a good gate for the Trojans, who are proud and excited about Corey Seager’s promotion to the major leagues.
As far as football, Northwest hasn’t beaten A.L. Brown since 1976. That pattern should continue.
A.L. Brown has outrushed opponents 653 to 52. That pattern should continue also.
The Wonders have special players in QB Damon Johnson, who has accounted for five TDs, and two-way players Jayln Cagle (219 rushing yards) and Sandon McCoy (130 rushing yards).
Northwest’s only outing was a 48-0 loss to Robinson. The Wonders beat Robinson 55-0 last season.
Northwest hasn’t squared off with the Wonders since 2012. The Wonders won that one 49-20.
This should be just a tuneup for the Wonders, who face Mooresville next week, then Vance, Hough and Mallard Creek, all in the month of October.
1460-AM will broadcast the game.

Davie (0-2) at Dudley (2-0)
Davie takes on Dudley for the first time since a 2011 first-round playoff loss to the Greensboro school on a Hail Mary.
Revenge is unlikely. Dudley forfeited its season in 2014, but it has won 27 straight on the field. Led by QB Hendon Hooker, Dudley outscored its first two foes — Carver and Ragsdale — 90-14.
Linebacker James Boyle leads Davie’s defense. The passing combination of QB Chris Reynolds (480 passing yards) and receiver Ben Ellis (14 catches, 281 yards, four TDs) sparks Davie’s offense.
Davie was battered by Page, but played well for a half in last week’s 35-14 loss to West Rowan.
Dudley leads the series 4-1.
There isn’t any doubt Dudley is one of the state’s best teams. Kudos to the War Eagles for accepting the challenge.




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