High school football: Hornets at Bulldogs, as CCC starts with a bang

Published 12:01 am Thursday, September 15, 2022

By Mike London

SALISBURY — It’s already time for the second phase of the high school football season — conference play.

For teams that have been winning, it’s a chance to keep momentum rolling toward lofty goals.

For teams that have been losing, it’s a fresh start. Everyone is 0-0 in conference. Lots of coaches will be reminding players of that this week.

Ranked 13th in 3A by MaxPreps, West Rowan (3-1) looks like the favorite in the South Piedmont Conference. The Falcons have a great chance to end a banner drought that dates back to 2011.

In the split 1A/2A Central Carolina Conference, Salisbury (3-1), North Rowan (3-1) and Thomasville (3-0) look close enough in talent that three great games should happen when they collide.

Salisbury at Thomasville will be the game of the night on Friday. There’s no  doubt about that. There’s history, there’s talent and there’s plenty of suspense about what’s going to happen.

Hornets-Bulldogs is also the WSAT radio game.

MaxPreps ranks Salisbury 111th in the state, with North coming in at 114 and Thomasville at 119.

North is seventh in the 1A rankings, while Thomasville is eighth. The Hornets are ranked 16th in 2A.

As far as the rest of Rowan County, titles aren’t going to happen. Not this year.

For Carson (1-3), South Rowan (1-3) and East Rowan (0-4), it’s going to be about competing and improving. Making memories and learning life lessons.

The SPC includes some underwhelming teams, so the Cougars, Raiders and Mustangs are going to have a reasonable chance most Fridays.

A.L. Brown (3-0) and Davie (1-2) return to action Friday following an open week.

The Wonders look to be better than they were in 2021, but how much better? They’ll find out when Hickory Ridge visits.

Friday’s games:

Salisbury (3-1) at Thomasville (3-0), 7:30 p.m.

Salisbury is one of the few places where a backup running back can rush for 226 yards, but that’s what Jamal Rule did last week in the 41-0 romp against South Rowan.

Rule was stepping in for injured JyMikaah Wells. All he did was post the eighth-highest rushing total ever by a Hornet in a single game.

So running back shouldn’t be an issue for the Hornets, whether it’s Rule (45 carries, 416 yards, 2 TDs) or Wells (34 carries, 402 yards, 2 TDs) carrying the rock against the Bulldogs.

Whoever runs it, the make-or-break guy for the Hornets could still be talented quarterback Mike Geter. He’s put up 416 rushing yards and 354 passing yards. He’s accounted for a dozen touchdowns.

Defensively, Salisbury recorded its first shutout of the season last week. The Hornets made that a habit in 2021.

Thomasville made a second-half comeback to beat Forbush last week. QB Janhri Luckey is the leader for the Bulldogs and they got Kevin Robinson rolling for 180 rushing yards against Forbush.

Salisbury is favored, but not by that much, especially at Cushwa Stadium.

Historically, it’s been an exciting series. One of the great rushing games in Salisbury history — 237 yards against Thomasville — was posted by Leonard Atkins in 1975.

The Bulldogs lead the series 20-17-1, but the Hornets have pulled out six of the last 10, including a 49-21 victory last fall.


North Rowan (3-1) at South Davidson (3-1), 7:30 p.m.

While the teams have the same record, North Rowan is favored to win the Central Carolina Conference contest in Denton by about 30 points.

The Cavaliers are 9-0 all-time in the series and stampeded the Wildcats 57-0 in 2021.

North back Jaemias Morrow has 472 rushing yards and averages better than 10 yards per carry. He has eight rushing TDs and also has scored on a kickoff return, a reception and a fumble recovery.

North QB Jeremiah Alford has rushed for 389 yards and thrown for 488. He’s accounted for 12 touchdowns.

North has developed an interesting receiving corps. Amari McArthur leads in catches (12). Xavier Suber leads in TD receptions (3). Kemon O’Kelly leads in receiving yards (177).

North’s defense gave up a lot of rushing yards in the 42-28 loss to West Rowan, but should bounce back with no problem tonight.


Carson (1-3) at West Rowan (3-1), 7 p.m.

The Falcons are favored by 27 in the South Piedmont Conference opener for both teams.

Carson achieved its lone victory against 1A South Stanly, while the Falcons own strong wins against Salisbury, North Rowan and Davie.

All-purpose Falcon Evan Kennedy is coming off a monumental game against North Rowan, and the Falcons also expect to have power back Landon Jacobs back in action Friday.

West QB Luke Graham has thrown for 896 yards and seven touchdowns. Adrian Stockton has 18 catches for 363 yards and three TDs.

Carson famously defeated the Falcons at home in 2013, but West has dominated the all-time series 16-1 and smacked Carson 49-14 last fall.


South Rowan (1-3) at NW Cabarrus (3-1), 7 p.m.

Northwest Cabarrus lost to 4A Cox Mill 45-6, but still might be a contender in the SPC.

South Rowan hasn’t scored three weeks in a row, so an upset looks unlikely. Northwest is a four-TD favorite.

The Trojans edged South Rowan 25-20 in 2021 to cut the Raiders’ lead in the all-time series to 21-13.


East Rowan (0-4) at Concord (0-3), 7 p.m.

It’s been a rough start to the season for the Spiders, the defending SPC champs.

They’ve been flattened by Ashbrook, Parkwood and Monroe, so maybe the Mustangs have a shot tonight.

East is throwing for substantial yardage, but the Mustangs have been killed by turnovers, especially interceptions.

East was running-clocked at North Davidson last week and is a 20-point underdog.

Concord has owned the all-time series 41-3-1.

The score was 36-0 last fall. East’s most recent victory in the series was by a Brian Hinson-coached squad in 2009.


Hickory Ridge (2-2) at A.L. Brown (3-0), 7:30 p.m.

It’s all about scheduling.

Hickory Ridge has taken on Charlotte Catholic and Chambers, among others, which explains why the Bulls are 15-point favorites over the unbeaten Wonders,

The Wonders lead the series 6-2, but the Bulls smashed them 48-14 in a 2021 Greater Metro Conference contest.


R.J. Reynolds (1-2) at Davie (1-2), 7 p.m.

The Central Piedmont Conference looks stout, so it’s a must win for the War Eagles if they’re going to be factor.

QB Ty Miller and receiver Brodie Smith are putting up some serious numbers.

The War Eagles are favored by two touchdowns. They should score 40 or so.