High school football: Two county matchups highlight opening week; North-East game moved to tonight
Published 12:01 am Thursday, August 18, 2022
By Mike London
SALISBURY — High school football is here, and even though many of us know someone who is still dealing with COVID, a sense of normalcy has returned to local sports.
A year ago at this time, cancellations and uncertainty were still a big part of the picture, but everything looks positive now as far as having a peaceful 10-game regular season.
That’s something none of us will ever take for granted again.
The season for Rowan County starts this week with a bang.
The North Rowan-East Rowan game has been moved to East Rowan and will be played at 7 tonight.
West Rowan is scheduled to visit Salisbury on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Both of those county games got bumped off the schedule in 2021, so that increases the anticipation.
West is determined to prove that it hasn’t entered a declining phase, but it’s the Hornets who have taken charge of the county. Salisbury has won nine county games in a row and brings back some monsters. On the other hand, this might be the first time in 25 years that the average football fan can’t name a single West player without looking at the roster.
As far as East and North, well, lots of memories. Time moves faster than any running back, and it’s been 25 years — 1997 — since North’s legendary QB Mario Sturdivant was 18-for-32 passing for 414 yards and five touchdowns against the Mustangs in an epic 40-28 win by the Cavaliers. North receiver J.R. Neely had nine catches for 199 yards and three TDs that night. East shut down North’s running game and picked off three passes, but North and head coach Roger Secreast still got the win.
In other openers still set for Friday, Carson is at Statesville, a program that has owned the Cougars, while South Rowan heads to Winston-Salem to take on Parkland.
A.L. Brown hosts North Meck, while Davie is at Mooresville.
East Rowan at North Rowan
2021 records: East 1-8, North 8-4
Series record: North leads 42-16-1. North has won the last 7 meetings
Last meeting: North won 20-16 in 2019
Last win by the Mustangs: 21-20 in 2010
In quarterback Jeremiah Alford, receiver Amari McArthur and running back Jaemias Morrow, coach Nygel Pearson’s Cavaliers have three of the county’s marquee players and the Cavaliers have put a lot of work in the offseason and preseason as far as building up their defense. East put up some of the shakiest offensive numbers in program history — zero or one touchdown in eight of nine games — in 2021, but head coach John Fitz expects his team to be improved. On paper, it looks like a North win, but almost all of the recent meetings between these programs have been decided in the fourth quarter.
West Rowan at Salisbury
2021 records: West 7-4, Salisbury 11-1
Series record: West leads 21-15
Last meeting: Hornets romped 36-0 in the spring of 2021
Last win by the Falcons: A 44-7 pounding in 2014
Salisbury has the household names — lefty QB Mike Geter, running back JyMikaah Wells and receiver/DB Deuce Walker. They also have linebacker Amare “The Menace” Johnson, who is soon to be a household name.
This will be the much watched debut for new head coach Clayton Trivett. Salisbury graduated a lot of athletes from last season’s powerhouse team, but still has most of the coaching staff and some stars to build around and is a top-5 2A team in preseason polls. The explosive Geter was Rowan County Offensive Player of the Year as a sophomore. Wells’ first TD of the night will move him into a select group of Hornets who have scored 50 in their careers.
West’s strength is still the guys in the trenches. The Falcons. coached by Louis Kraft, expect to be good on both lines, but they’re breaking in a bunch of new skill people, including QB Luke Graham.
Carson at Statesville
2021 records: Carson 4-6, Statesville 12-1
Series record: Statesville leads 11-1
Last meeting: Greyhounds won 41-30 in 2021
Only win by the Cougars: 40-14 in 2009
It’s obviously a challenging debut for new head coach Jonathan Lowe, although Carson will have some confidence after competing well with the Greyhounds last season.
Carson has a lot of returners on the offensive line and on defense, and new QB Michael Guiton will direct the I-formation offense.
South Rowan at Parkland
2021 records: South Rowan 1-9, Parkland 1-8
Series record: South leads 5-4
Last meeting: Raiders won 14-0 in 2021
Last win by Parkland: 20-0 in 1992
South’s only win of head coach Chris Walsh’s first season was against Parkland, which sustained a ton of 60-0 losses in 4A.
Parkland was really young last season and Walsh expects Parkland to be fast and much improved.
There’s a lot of optimism at South, which has a lot of strength in the freshman and sophomore classes.
North Meck at A.L. Brown
2021 records: North Meck 6-4, A.L. Brown 5-5
Series record: Wonders lead 5-0
Last meeting: Wonders won 28-20 in 2021
Coming off a snake-bit 5-5 season — if it could go wrong, it did — the Wonders are looking to return to the state playoffs.
North Meck was a playoff team last season, but exited quickly in the first round after drawing Weddington.
A.L. Brown’s last outing was a 47-0 wipeout of Concord, and coach Mike Newsome’s Wonders carried that momentum into a productive offseason.
Davie at Mooresville
2021 records: Davie 6-5, Mooresville 7-4
Last meeting: Davie rolled 51-34
Last win by the Blue Devils: 52-32 in 2018
Davie comes off a wild season in which it scored points — and allowed points — at a mind-boggling level.
Davie expects to keep putting up 40s and 50s, but hopes for an improved defensive effort.
Coach Joe Nixon’s Blue Devils are expected to be one of the top teams in the Greater Metro Conference.
Both of these talented teams are on the schedule early for West Rowan.