High school football: 15 Hornets lead all-county team

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 26, 2021

All-Rowan County football:

Positions weren’t a consideration.

Three of the county’s top 10 players were quarterbacks, so it’s not like any of them could be left off all-county. The fourth-best quarterback was Carson’s Hunter Burris, who was at the top of Carson’s all-county list. It’s not like he could be left off, either. Carson wouldn’t have been competitive without him. With him, the Cougars made the playoffs.

Fortunately, there are a decent number of offensive linemen. That group tends to be under-represented on positionless teams.

The Post determined the number of players from each team.

Head coaches were asked to choose the members of their teams who would be recognized as All-Rowan County.

South had only one player named to the All-South Piedmont Conference team, while East had two. The Post elevated that number to three all-county representatives for the Mustangs and Raiders.

Carson had five All-SPC players. That’s the same number the Post allotted the Cougars for all-county. The Cougars’ departing coach Daniel Crosby had a different list for all-county than for all-conference. The reason for that is simple. It spreads the recognition around a little.

Coaches regard all-conference as a bigger deal than all-county because that honor is decided by coaches. The players, on the other hand, tend to care more about how they stack up against their neighbors than how they compare to players from Cabarrus or Davidson County. Players probably would prefer making all-county to all-conference.

West coach Louis Kraft had eight of his league runner-up Falcons honored as All-SPC. Like Crosby, he wanted to spread the love around to different athletes when he was asked to name eight for all-county. West had at least a dozen players who could have made one or both teams.

North placed seven on the All-Central Carolina Conference team. The Cavaliers got eight on all-county to reward a successful run to the third round of the state playoffs. It’s the same seven who made All-CCC — plus one.

Salisbury dominated the regular season so completely and historically that it placed 15 men on the All-CCC squad, with nine designated as defensive players. Officially, Deuce Walker and Marcus Cook made All-CCC as receivers, but they were also important DBs.

Fifteen from one team seemed like an insane number for all-county, but Salisbury outscored the three county teams it played 178-0, so when you look at the Hornets on the all-conference list, which ones are you going to leave off all-county?

The answer to that is none of them.


CARSON (5) — QB Hunter Burris rushed for 931 yards and 10 TDs. Back Carter Dowd had 785 rushing yards and 13 TDs. Tristen McBride and Joseph Giles were key men as hard-to-budge defensive lineman and as tight ends in the running game. Crosby lauded safety/receiver Trevor Vaughn as the most improved Cougar from the start of the season to the end of it.

*Jay Howard and Easton Mullis were part of Carson’s All-SPC crew.

EAST ROWAN (3) — It was a tough year for the Mustangs, but Josh Roman-Soto scored touchdowns on offense and defense. Evan Porter made plays as a DB and in the return game. Morgan Padgett was a tough edge defender and was at his best in the county matchups.

NORTH ROWAN (8) — Freshman QB Jeremiah Alford accounted for 38 touchdowns and eight 2-point conversions. Amari McCarthur, runner-up for CCC Offensive Player of the Year, broke school records with a monster stat line: 54 catches, 1,191 receiving yards, 16 TDs. Jae’mias Morrow was the county’s leader with 1,301 rushing yards. He scored 21 TDs and added six 2-point conversions. Linebackers Bryson Crisco, Khalil Davis and Jamar Jefferies anchored the defense. Crisco was runner-up for CCC Defensive Player of the Year honors. Ralond Frost and Tristian Summers were rugged linemen on both sides of the ball.

SALISBURY (15) — Start with Georgia-bound linebacker Jalon Walker, CCC Defensive Player of the Year and Rowan County Player of the Year. He garnered every accolade imaginable, including national honors, but stayed humble through it all and was a great leader. Quarterback Mike Geter accounted for 45 TDs and 11 2-point conversions on his way to CCC and Rowan County Offensive Player of the Year honors. Salisbury’s ferocious defense always started with Nick Hall, the CCC Lineman of the Year. Wade Robins was impactful as a kicker/punter and was Rowan County Special Teams Player of the Year. JyMikaah Wells rolled for 1,209 rushing yards and 21 TDs. Marcus Cook had 26 catches for 630 yards and seven TDs. He also had two punt return TDs and a pick-six. Deuce Walker had six TD catches and a pick-six. DB Jayden Gibson had two pick-sixes, two return TDs and a receiving TD. Linebacker Jaden Gaither scored on a blocked punt and a fumble return. Savion Freeman scored three TDs on defense and special teams. Left guard Chris Green was the Hornets’ top offensive lineman and is showing up on All-State teams. Reed Fugle and Anthony Dodd were outstanding defensive lineman, while Amare Johnson was a standout linebacker. Versatile Zae Neal was all over the place and had a pick-six.

SOUTH ROWAN (3) — Bronson Hunt had two 100-yard receiving games and hauled two kickoffs to the house. Aquiles Bernal anchored the offensive line for the Raiders. Linebacker Kameron Wallace stood out on defense and was South’s lone All-SPC pick.

WEST ROWAN (8) — After Jalon Walker, two-way lineman Josh Noble has been the Rowan senior generating the most recruiting interest. Noble was named SPC Offensive Lineman of the Year and played with Walker in the Carolina Bowl. Noah Loeblein piled up 2,334 passing yards and accounted for 32 TDs. He had a county-record six TD passes in one game. Peter Williams-Simpson had one of the top receiving seasons in school and county history with 48 catches for 1,056 yards and 11 TDs. Akin Robinson romped for 1,233 yards and 13 TDs, averaging 9.9 yards per carry. Garrett Fesperman enjoyed a breakout with 38 catches for 664 yards and six TDs. Right guard Braydon Haglan was an anchor for the Falcons as a pass protector and run blocker. Defensive leaders for the Falcons included cornerback Nigel McManus and safety Jaedon Neal.

* West’s All-SPC players included defensive end Landon Jacobs, lineman Alijah Gray and running back Cayleb Brawley.