High school football preview: West-Salisbury clash the highlight of Week 1
Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 19, 2021
By Mike London
SALISBURY — A new season begins Friday, with the local schools in vastly redesigned leagues and with everyone fired up and optimistic.
But it would be hard to find anyone in Rowan County who doesn’t believe Salisbury will have the county’s best team again. It might be equally hard to find anyone who doesn’t believe West Rowan has the second best.
They’ll collide right away on Friday in Mount Ulla, with West looking to do a lot better than it did in last season’s 36-0 drubbing by the Hornets on opening night. The Falcons were short-handed last season. This time it’s all hands on deck.
North Rowan at East Rowan might be just as interesting and could be closer. East has to be favored at home, but if North can get the ball to its receivers, good things can happen for the Cavaliers.
South opens at home under new head coach Chris Walsh against a lightly regarded Parkland squad, but Parkland is still a 4A opponent.
Carson opens at home against Statesville, always fast and always athletic. Some people may have forgotten that Carson made six turnovers at Statesville last season and still had a reasonable chance to win in the fourth quarter.
A.L. Brown is in Charlotte-less 4A league, but opens on the road against a Charlotte-Mecklenburg school (North Meck).
Davie has back Tate Carney, a Wake Forest commit who should be one of the state’s best. The War Eagles, an offensive machine in the spring — 35 or more points in six of their seven games — will be expected to win at home against a Mooresville club that is trying to bounce back from a 2-5 record in head coach Joe Nixon’s first season.
Game times are a bit staggered this season. Most are at 7 p.m. Friday, but North-East and Mooresville-Davie will kick off at 7:30 p.m.
Salisbury at West Rowan, 7 p.m.
Vance Honeycutt and Zae Clay are gone, but Jalon Walker and JyMikaah Wells are back from a 9-2 team that won a state championship.
The Hornets pounded the Falcons 36-0 last season, the first meeting since a 44-7 West romp in 2014.
West, which went 4-4 in the COVID season under new coach Louis Kraft, leads the series 21-15.
North Rowan at East Rowan, 7:30 p.m.
Coming off a 5-3 season with a playoff victory, North will look different without Kyree Sims and Zay Davis, but East, coming off a 2-5 effort, will look different without Sammy Pinckney and Vincent Jones.
The teams didn’t meet in the COVID season. North rallied for an exciting 20-16 win at East in 2019.
A good trivia question is who was East’s coach the last time the Mustangs beat North. The answer is Chad Tedder. That win on opening night of the 2010 season was one of only two wins that season by the Mustangs.
North has won the last seven meetings and has dominated the all-time series to the tune of 42-16-1.
Parkland at South Rowan, 7 p.m.
The programs squared off eight times from 1985 to 1992 during South’s 4A days.
South won four close ones from 1985-88, but Parkland’s Mustangs won the last four.
South, 2-5 in the COVID season, is moving up to 3A. Walsh said the offensive line is his team’s strong point.
Parkland was 0-6 in the COVID season. It was mostly routs, but Parkland took on some top-notch teams.
Statesville at Carson, 7 p.m.
It’s been a struggle historically for Carson against Statesville.
The Greyhounds, 6-2 in the COVID season, lead the series 10-1 and have won the last seven meetings.
Carson’s only victory came in 2009, a year when Carson was good and Statesville was not.
Carson battled hard in a 43-31 loss to the Hounds last season when the schools were conference foes.
Coach Daniel Crosby likes his linebackers and offensive line, and a lot of people think the Cougars, coming off a 3-4 season, will be pretty good.
A.L. Brown at North Meck, 7 p.m.
The Wonders were in the same league as North Meck from 2013-16 and beat them all four times.
North Meck is coming off a 1-6 season, so the Wonders should keep that string going.
The Wonders were 6-2 in the COVID season. They won a conference championship, but a first-round playoff loss made it less than satisfying season.
The strength for A.L. Brown is the linebackers, led by N.C. State commit Torren Wright.
Mooresville at Davie, 7:30 p.m.
Davie is coming off a wild and woolly 6-2 season, in which the War Eagles routinely scored five or six touchdowns.
Davie didn’t play Mooresville last season, but beat the Blue Devils 31-30 on a 2-point conversion in overtime in 2019.