• 61°

Prep Football: West’s Robinson

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

MOUNT ULLA — Gifted receiver Kortez Weeks put on a show on Friday as West Rowan beat Robinson, 21-19, and quarterback Payne Stolsworth turned in a fantastic performance for a rookie.
But at the heart of West’s victory was a tenacious defense led by Lawrence “LJ” Robinson.
“LJ is our ‘Eagle backer,’ and the Eagle is our leader and the guy we look to for all the calls and checks,” West coach Joe Nixon said. “He’s also the guy we want to lead us in tackles, and LJ is leading us.”
The pivotal play in the Falcons’ victory was an interception return by the senior linebacker for a touchdown late in the first quarter.
That might turn out to be a season-changing play, as West was in desperate need of a lift. The Falcons had lost 41-0 in their previous outing to Davie County and because of an open week had to dwell on that loss and hear about that loss for two weeks.
The Bulldogs led, 3-0, late in the first quarter and had just seized more momentum by stoning a West Rowan drive at the Robinson 5-yard line.
Robinson quickly moved out of the hole to the 25 with an effective running play, and then elected to throw on first down. And that’s when “LJ” entered the picture.
Robinson had three receivers to the right. QB Josh Dale was looking to throw short and never saw the linebacker wearing the No. 22 jersey stepping out to his left in a hurry.
“The quarterback was looking right at me, and I knew he was going to throw to my side,” Robinson said. “I was supposed to stay in the box, but I trusted my instincts. I made the right read and made my break on the ball at the right time, and we had a touchdown.”
It was a play that changed everything. West led 14-3 by halftime.
“LJ put us on the board, got us the lead,” Nixon said. “That was all him. Just a really good player making a play.”
When Robinson (6 feet, 205 pounds) was a sophomore in 2014, he was a running back, trying to earn carries for a team that had Harrison Baucom and Jovon Quarles getting most of the touches.
“My older brother Julian Samolu (a standout at West Rowan and Catawba) and Coach Kevin Parks came to me and told me the team needed me more at linebacker,” Robinson said. “I’ve always wanted to be like Julian, and I was fine with it. I made the switch in the middle of my sophomore year.”
The touchdown Robinson scored on Friday was his sixth for the West varsity. He had two offensive touchdowns in 2014, and he also scored that season against South Rowan on blocked punt.
He added two defensive scores as a junior — a fumble return against South and a pick-six against Cox Mill.
“He can really run and he can make the tackle when he gets there,” Nixon said.
Robinson also is smart. He studies film religiously, and it pays dividends. Besides the interception, he had several pass breakups and tackles for loss on Friday.
“I knew from film study that they’d run a screen every time they brought certain personnel in,” Robinson said. “I was looking for the screen and helped get a tackle for loss. I read the guards and I can tell if they’re pulling for a running play or getting ready to pass-block. You look for tendencies on film that will help you make plays in the game.”
Robinson made tackles all over the field on Friday, including one on a kickoff.
A play he enjoyed almost as much as his pick-six occurred with West facing a fourth-and-2 at its 43-yard line. As the punt team headed on the field, up in the pressbox, longtime clock operator Willie Ellis declared, “You know, back in the heyday, we’d fake the punt here.”
Indeed, the fake was on, and Robinson accepted the snap as the up man in punt formation and plowed for 3 yards and a key first down.
“I got the signal from Coach when I was going out on the field,” Robinson said. “It was kind of a surprise, but I was ready for it. It was like being a running back all over again, and I got the first down.”
Touchdowns and first downs are fun for Robinson, but he recognizes that his primary responsibility is to anchor the defense.
“Getting us in the right defense, getting guys in the right place and making sure they’re doing things right — that’s my job,” Robinson said.

Comments

Local

‘Meet the need’: Rowan County Health Department looks to add to vaccination options

Local

Seaford is first woman in county hired for town manager position since the ’90s

Local

Colonial Spring Frolic makes a comeback to kick off museum’s year

Local

Concord City Council wants to name bridge for fallen officer, Rowan native

Education

RSS administration will recommend selling Faith Elementary property to charter school

Business

Inspired by advice from father-in-law, Angela Mills launches her own business in memory of him

Local

Rowan County Democrats re-elect leaders, pass resolutions

Local

Baseball: Memories come alive in Ferebee book

Local

During Child Abuse Prevention Month, local groups reflect on detecting abuse in a virtual world

Business

Biz Roundup: Small Business Center announces spring slate of workshop for business owners

Clubs

Kiwanis Pancake Festival starts Friday

Local

Rowan fire marshal seeks to clear up confusion, worry caused by solicitation letter

Education

Fun every day: Fifth anniversary for Yadkin Path Montessori School

Nation/World

Charles: Royal family ‘deeply grateful’ for support for Philip

News

North Carolina sites to resume J&J vaccines after CDC review

News

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Playoff time means get ready for ‘big-boy football’

High School

High school football: Hornets overpower South to secure playoff spot

Crime

Jeffrey MacDonald won’t be released despite deteriorating health

Business

Amazon warehouse workers reject union in Alabama

Nation/World

Ex-NFL player’s brain to be probed for trauma-related harm after Rock Hill shootings

Education

Duke University to require COVID vaccinations for fall term

Education

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Record night for Pinckney as East cruises; Carson wins thriller in OT