High school football: Plenty of team, individual records fell in 2021

Published 12:01 am Sunday, January 16, 2022

By Mike London

SALISBURY — When people speak of the 2021 football season in years to come, they’ll have to specify spring or fall, as there were two of them.

In the season that concluded for Rowan County in November, a remarkable number of records were set or nearly set, and that goes for teams as well as for individuals.

More records will surely fall in 2022, as Salisbury back JyMikaah Wells finished his junior year on the threshold of two major school records.

Wells has scored 49 career touchdowns in three varsity seasons, so Justin Ruffin’s 55 is just around the corner.

Wells has 3,442 rushing yards, so he’ll probably top Dario Hamilton, who holds the career mark for the Hornets with 3,553, on opening night of the 2022 season.

Of course, Wells may not be able to push a new TD record far enough to hold off Salisbury quarterback Mike Geter for very long. Geter had 28 rushing touchdowns as a sophomore.

Geter fell just short of two Salisbury season records. He would have broken both with one more game. Brian Bauk still holds the total offense record for a single season with 2,228 in 2012, while Griffin Myers (2017) still has the passing yardage record for a season with 1, 525 in 2017.

Senior Marcus Cook shattered Salisbury’s career records for receptions (85) and receiving yards (1,473).

As a team, the Hornets set a new county standard for scoring (53 points per game) and nipped the 1995 Hornets for a defensive record for fewest points allowed (5.41 per game).

The Hornets allowed 32 points in their final game at Maiden and fell a little short of South Rowan’s modern county record for scoring defense. The 1978 Raiders allowed 5.09 points per game.

North Rowan made a case for the most exciting season in county history, not only by going 3-0 in overtime games, but by breaking the school record for points per game (39.5) while simultaneously challenging the school record for most points allowed per game (31.1).

That’s right. When you went to watch North Rowan, you were going to witness 70 points on an average night.

North had three players who scored more than 100 points, and that’s something that had never happened in the county on one team. Running back Jae’mias Morrow (138), receiver Amari McArthur (110) and quarterback Jeremiah Alford (106) all surpassed 100, although the county record (West’s K.P. Parks scored a ridiculous 356 in 2009) is probably safe for another century or so.

McArthur has 21 career TD receptions after his junior season, so the school record of 23 set by Alfonzo Miller won’t last very far into 2022.

Nor will Bryson Gaymon’s school record of 1,990 receiving yards. McArthur has 1,731.

McArthur broke single-season marks for the Cavaliers this year with 1,191 receiving yards and 16 TD catches. He broke a single-game mark with 273 receiving yards (on only five catches) against North Stanly.

McArthur has 84 career catches. Thirteen Rowan receivers have reached 100. East’s Seth Wyrick tops the list with 189. Dre Byrd set the North record with 142.

In addition to McArthur, West Rowan’s Peter Williams-Simpson had a 2021 season that put him on the all-time receiving list. He had 48 catches for 1,056 yards and 11 touchdowns.

West  had a prolific offensive team (35.1 points per game). Senior quarterback Noah Loeblein broke a school single-game record with 371 passing yards against Central Cabarrus and broke the school and county records in that game with six touchdown passes.

Loeblein wrapped up his career seventh on Rowan County’s all-time passing yardage list with 4,780. Loeblein’s 2021 season  — 2,334 passing yards — ranked eighth in Rowan County history.

Loeblein threw 53 touchdown passes in his career, and is fifth in county history in that category, behind only East’s Samuel Wyrick, West’s Payne Stolsworth and B.J. Sherrill, and North’s Mario Sturdivant.

Alford, North’s freshman QB is already making his presence felt on all-time passing list. He’s in the top 50 after just one season with 1,885 passing yards.

The Post has tracked the top 50 passing games in county history since the late 1960s. Loeblein’s 371-yard game against Central Cabarrus put him fifth on the county list.

Alford made the list twice as a freshman. He had 296 passing yards against North Stanly and 282 against Lexington.

Alford had 23 touchdown passes his freshman year. He threw five in the playoff game against Robbinsville to tie the school record.

The Post has tracked all the 1,000-yard rushing seasons since the late 1960s.

North’s Morrow (1,301), West’s Akin Robinson (1,233) and Salisbury’s Wells (1,209) made the list this season.

The Post also has tracked all the 200-yard rushing games since the late 1960s. There were a handful of new entries this season, including a rare one by a quarterback. Alford had 224 rushing yards in the overtime playoff win against Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy.

West’s Robinson scooted for 207 yards against Central Cabarrus.

Carson bulldozer Carter Dowd had 213 rushing yards in his career game against Central.

Speaking of the Cougars, Hunter Burris put a couple of entries in the school record book for rushing yards by a quarterback. He had 930 rushing yards for the season and 188 in the game against South Stanly.

In the world of total offense (that’s rushing plus passing), Alford turned in an amazing, 12-game freshman season that ranked fourth in school history and 10th in county history with 2,784 yards.

Loeblein didn’t amass many rushing yards, but he still had a top-25 season all-time in the county as far as total offense.

Loeblein finished 13th on the county’s career list for total offense with 5,097 yards.

He was special. Only 15 players in Rowan history have reached 5,000 — 11 quarterbacks and four running backs.

West’s K.P. Parks, who rushed for an incredible 10,915 yards, is the all-time total offense leader in the county by a lot. The next four on the list are quarterbacks — East’s Samuel Wyrick, North’s Sturdivant, West’s Sherrill and North’s Sakelo Lilly, who may the most underrated player of all-time.