High school football: Hinson and Pearson took different paths to third round

Published 12:01 am Thursday, December 23, 2021

By Mike London

SALISBURY — Salisbury’s Brian Hinson coached a history-making team, while North Rowan’s Nygel Pearson coached a resilient one.

Hinson and Pearson, both former offensive linemen and former Catawba College o-line coaches, share the Post’s Rowan County Coach of the Year accolade.

It’s the fifth time Hinson has been honored and the third season in a row. It’s the first award for Pearson, who was in his second season of guiding the Cavaliers.

Hinson coached a dynamic 11-1 crew that scored 53 points per game, while allowing 5.4 per game.

Salisbury posted eight shutouts and scored 60-plus points five times.

Statistically, the Hornets were the most overwhelming team in modern Rowan County history, probably the most dominant team as far as pure numbers since the 1940 Price Red Devils pitched a shutout for an entire season.

Led by Georgia recruit Jalon Walker, Salisbury was exceptionally talented, but Hinson challenged the Hornets to be fantastic, not just very good, and they responded. They won their three county games by a combined 178-0, including a 60-0 win against a good North Rowan team. The Hornets won playoff games 49-6 and 49-0.

The Hornets lost in the third round at Maiden and couldn’t get back to their third straight title game or win their second straight title, but the raw numbers from this season will still make jaws drop 25 years from now. If some were disappointed with 11-1, well, that just means the Hornets spoiled them.

Salisbury was sixth in 2A in the final MaxPreps rankings and was 38th in the state.

Against long odds, North went as far as Salisbury in the playoffs. North lost at Robbinsville 50-47 in the third round of 1A.

It should be noted that Robbinsville won again the next week and played in the regional final.

North (8-4) was seventh in the final MaxPreps 1A rankings.

North went 3-0 in overtime games. That tells you something. It’s amazing to play three OTs in one year and far more amazing to win all three.

If the Cavaliers make one more play, there likely would’ve been a fourth overtime game against West Rowan. They lost that one 42-35.

“Our kids were resilient and they are tough kids,” Pearson said.

North didn’t have a good showing at all in the Rowan County Jamboree scrimmage as the season began and was fortunate to get past South Rowan in overtime when the Cavaliers officially opened the season at home on Aug. 27.

South went 1-9.

“You know, it was kind of a weird thing, but a lot of times we had to get hit in the mouth to get us going,” Pearson said. “South played well that night and they hit us in the mouth.”

The Cavaliers had to rally often.  They won an incredible game at North Stanly on Sept. 3, a tussle in which freshman quarterback Jeremiah Alford and junior receiver Amari McArthur emerged as household names.

North had to get back on track after a disappointing 59-18 licking at Thomasville and had to regroup and do some soul-searching after things unraveled in a 60-0 loss at Salisbury.

But the Cavaliers never stayed down long. They always came back.

“We had a skeleton crew of coaches and were very short-handed, but the staff that we had did an incredible job,” Pearson said. “We were short on players, especially linemen. We used a 3-5 defense because we had more linebacker bodies than lineman bodies. We had to ask a lot of kids to play both ways, but our coaches got everyone the reps they needed on both sides of the ball.”

The most critical game for the Cavaliers, as the season progressed, was fighting to win 33-32 in overtime at underrated East Davidson, the week after the Thomasville disaster.

The Cavaliers also found a way to survive a second-round playoff game in overtime at Thomas Jefferson. They took that one even with McArthur shut down. That set up the long ride to Robbinsville, where they fought to the end on a cold night.

Pearson said the administration and the fans stayed the course. The Cavaliers always felt they had support.

“We had three very special kids on offense that we feel blessed to have (Alford, McArthur and sophomore running back Jae’mias Morrow), but we also had a lot of resilient kids who gave us everything they had,” Pearson said. “We had our tough tests along the way, but the kids made it a great season. We weren’t far away in 1A. One more stop at Robbinsville, and who knows?”


Rowan Coach of the Year

1968 W.A. Cline, East
1969 W.A. Cline, East
1970 Pete Stout, Boyden
1971 W.A. Cline, East
1972 Larry Thomason, North
1973 Pete Stout, Salisbury
1974 Pete Stout, Salisbury
1975 Reid Bradshaw, South
1976 Reid Bradshaw, South
1977 Larry Thomason, North
1978 Mike Carter, Salisbury
1979 Mike Carter, Salisbury
1980 Reid Bradshaw, South
1981 Reid Bradshaw, South
1982 Larry Thomason, North
1983 Larry Deal, South
1984 Larry Deal, South
1985 Larry Thomason, North
1986 Larry Deal, South
1987 Randall Ward, West
1988 Gus Andrews, Salisbury
1989 Ron Raper, West
1990 W.A. Cline, East
1991 W.A. Cline, East
1992 Roger Secreast, North
1993 Roger Secreast, North
1994 Larry Deal; South, Roger Secreast; North, Ron Raper, West
1995 Conrad Green, Salisbury
1996 Jeff Safrit, East
1997 Jeff Safrit, East
1998 Jeff Safrit, East
1999 Scott Young, West
2000 Rick Vanhoy, South; Scott Young, West; Roger Secreast, North
2001 Roger Secreast, North; Rick Vanhoy, South
2002 Mike Peavey, Salisbury
2003 Joe Pinyan, Salisbury
2004 Will Orbin, East
2005 Scott Young, West; Avery Cutshaw, North
2006 Scott Young, West; Joe Pinyan, Salisbury
2007 Scott Young, West
2008 Scott Young, West
2009 Scott Young, West; Brian Hinson, East
2010 Scott Young, West; Joe Pinyan, Salisbury
2011 Scott Young, West
2012 Danny Misenheimer, East
2013  Joe Nixon, North
2014 Kenneth McClamrock, East
2015  Joe Nixon, West
2016  Ben Hampton, North
2017   Brian Hinson, Salisbury
2018 Ben Hampton, North
2019  Brian Hinson, Salisbury
2021* spring  Brian Hinson, Salisbury
2021 fall  Brian Hinson, Salisbury; Nygel Pearson, North