High school football: Quite a year for offensive stats in the county

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 27, 2022

By Mike London
mike.london@salisburypost.com

Taking a look at some of the numbers from the 2022 high school football season …

Teams

Salisbury went 11-2, the 43rd time a Rowan County team has won 10 or more games in a season.

Salisbury has accounted for 14 of those seasons, and it’s 16 when you add the two for Boyden.

West Rowan owns 12, while North Rowan has eight.

It will get harder to reach that 10-win plateau with regular seasons reduced from 11 to 10 games.

This was the fifth time a Rowan team has posted an 11-2 record. The others were the 1974 Hornets coached by Pete Stout; the 1983 South Rowan Raiders who set the school record for wins in a season for coach Larry Deal; and Scott Young’s 2006 and 2007 West Rowan squads.

The offensive and defensive numbers for Carson (5-6) weren’t quite as good as they were in 2021, but Carson can’t complain. The bottom line — 5-6— was the best for the Cougars since the 2015 season.

South Rowan allowed 44.9 points per game, which sounds scary, but it was still a long way from the school record of 49.1 points allowed.

East Rowan’s defensive numbers were almost identical to 2021, but the offense improved by 5 points per game. While the Mustangs won only one game for the second straight season, they did trend in the right direction.

North Rowan’s offense declined by 5 points per game from 2021, but the defense improved by 8 points per game.

West Rowan’s offense wasn’t quite as powerful as it was in 2022, but the Falcons still scored plenty of points, while the defense got a little better. The difference between collecting nine wins and settling for seven was finding a way to win those wild games with Davie and Carson.

Salisbury boasted the county’s best offensive (39.9 points per game) and defensive numbers (12 points per game), but even those stout numbers were down some from the crazy stats the Hornets posted in 2021 when they set records on both sides of the ball.

Individual scoring

Salisbury’s JyMikkah Wells posted a rare 200-point season, with 35 touchdowns.

North Rowan’s Jaemias Morrow, who had 28 touchdowns and eight 2-point conversions, scored 176.

Passing

North Rowan’s Mario Sturdivant has topped the Rowan County career list since the late 1990s with 6,556 passing yards.

He held off strong challenges by West Rowan’s B.J. Sherrill (6,188) and East Rowan’s Samuel Wyrick (6,525), who needed one more game to catch Sturdivant.

The guy to watch among current players is North sophomore Jeremiah Alford.

Alford was in the rare position of being the starting quarterback on opening night of his freshman year, and while he’s put up some nice numbers as a freshman and sophomore, he’s only halfway through his high school career, and his best two seasons could still be ahead of him. He’s thrown for 3,369 yards and is already in the all-time top 20 for the county. He’s on pace for 6,700 yards or so. Whether he can maintain that pace without Amari McArthur to throw the ball to is the million-dollar question.

Salisbury is a run-first team, but Mike Geter, a junior who has been the Hornets’ quarterback for two seasons, has 2,743 efficient passing yards and is going to finish high on the county’s all-time passing list.

John Knox (2007-10) holds the Salisbury school record with 3,200 career passing yards. Geter, assuming good health, obviously will pass Knox in 2023.

West Rowan’s Lucas Graham’s had an incredible senior season in terms of passing yards, although his career yards and senior yards aren’t that far apart as this was his first season as the varsity starter. His 2,426 passing yards in 12 games is a West school record and ranks sixth on the all-time county list.

Graham had his ups and downs and there were some interceptions, but when he was on, he was really good. He put up three 300-yard games, including 388 yards in the Falcons’ thrilling win against Davie. That was the third-biggest passing game in county history.

As far as completions in a game, Wyrick’s 36 in the playoff game at South Point in 2014 could stand for a while.

Wyrick is also the county leader for career touchdown passes with 74.

Alford has 42, including five in a playoff game as a freshman, so he’s got a shot at that county record, as well.

Geter has thrown 34 TD passes.

South Rowan sophomore Brooks Overcash broke the Raiders’ single-game school record with 295 yards in a loss to East Rowan this season.

Passing attacks have picked up around the county and around the state. A season with 1,000 passing yards used to mean headlines. All six schools had a 1,000-yard passer this season.

Rushing

While most of the county relied more and more heavily on passing to move the ball, Wells broke records for Salisbury as an old-fashioned, keep-pounding workhorse with 219 carries. He basically did what he did in 11 games, as he missed all of one and most of another with an injury.

Wells finished as the No. 3 rusher in country history behind West’s K.P. Parks (2006-09) and Carson’s Shaun Warren (2007-10).

The most important entry for Wells in the Salisbury school record book is his 84 touchdowns. That’s second all-time in the county behind the surreal record of 158 piled up by Parks. Parks scored 59 touchdowns his senior year alone.

Wells also set Salisbury school records for TDs in a season (35), rushing yards in a career (5,465) and rushing yards in a season (2,023). There should be some pretty good karma in a member of the Class of 2023 rushing for 2,023 yards. That will be an easy number to remember.

North Rowan’s Morrow was the county’s only 1,000-yard rusher other than Wells. Morrow put up 1,375 rushing yards on 141 carries — that’s 9.8 yards per carry. There were a lot of breakaways.

Morrow is a junior, so he’ll add significantly to his current career total of 2,889 rushing yards as he moves up the county’s all-time chart in 2023. There will be 21 backs ahead of him when he starts his senior year, but he should finish as a 4,000-yard man and should wind up among the county’s all-time top 10 rushers.

The North school record that Morrow has a great shot at is career touchdowns. He has totaled 54, including five he scored for the varsity when he was moved up late in his freshman year. The school record is Jareke Chambers’ 72 TDs (2011-14) and 72 is a very reachable number for Morrow, who can score on offense, defense or special teams.

How much the game is changing is clear from the list of county rushing leaders for 2022. The No. 3 and No. 4 rushers were the dual-threat quarterbacks — Alford and Morrow. Both topped 900 rushing yards and no doubt would have been 1,000-yard rushers had their teams advanced one more game in the playoffs.

No. 5 on the rushing list this season was West Rowan’s Landon Jacobs, who totaled 901 yards despite missing several games.

West’s Evan Kennedy had 656 rushing yards, a pretty remarkable total for two reasons. He was primarily a receiver and his season was shortened by injury.

Most of Kennedy’s rushing yards came when he was filling in for an injured Jacobs.

Salisbury’s Jamal Rule, primarily a defensive player, somehow managed to rush for 723 yards, with most of his production coming when he replaced an injured Wells and dominated in the wins against East Rowan and South Rowan.

East Rowan’s Blake Hill had a 200-yard rushing game against South Rowan that accounted for most of his yards for the season.

Two players — Carson’s Emory Taylor and South Rowan’s Bronson Hunt — had significant passing, rushing and receiving yards — which is not easy to do.

Receiving

West Rowan’s Adrian Stockton, a senior making an impact for the first time for the Falcons, had the most notable receiving season of 2022.

Stockton’s 1,209 receiving yards were good for the No. 5 receiving season all-time in the county. He racked up that exceptional yardage total with 54 catches, which means he averaged better than 22 yards per catch.

He capped his spectacular season with a 200-yard effort in the playoff loss at West Henderson.

Stockton’s 54 catches didn’t challenge school or county records, but it was still a top-15 season in the county all-time.

North Rowan’s Amari McArthur didn’t have as incredible a season as he did in 2021, but he was still good and he finished fifth on the all-time receiving list for Rowan County with 2,424 receiving yards.

McArthur’s 32 career TD catches — he had 11 as a senior, one more than Stockton — tie him for fifth in county history. East Rowan’s Johnny Yarbrough has held that record since 1970 with 43.

McArthur will graduate with a host of school records. Besides career TD catches and career receiving yards, McArthur holds the North records for TD catches in a season (16 in 2021), receiving yards in a season (1,191 in 2021) and receiving yards in a game (273 vs. North Stanly in 2021).

Carson threw it well this season, but didn’t have any receiver with huge numbers because targets were split pretty evenly among the trio of Taylor, BJ Howard and CJ Guida, all of whom had very productive seasons.

Salisbury has usually been run-first and has modest career receiving records compared to some schools in the county. Deuce Walker made the most of his targets this season, with 35 catches for 625 yards and seven touchdowns. That’s 17.9 yards per catch.

Walker, who has five Division I offers, has 58 career catches for 1,113 yards  and 15 receiving TDs, and if he can match his 2022 production in 2023, he would break all the career school receiving records. Most of Salisbury’s career receiving records are held by Marcus Cook, Walker’s former teammate.

East QB Gavin Walker piled up lots of short completions and East receivers racked up plenty of catches.

AJ Goodman and Evan Porter had 45 catches each. That puts them in all-time top 10 for the Mustangs for a single season and in the top 40 in the county record book.