Area Sports Briefs: Former Wonder, Clemson star dies

Published 5:02 am Wednesday, April 19, 2023



From staff reports

Tracy Johnson, who starred at A.L. Brown in the early 1980s and played for the 1984 state runner-up team, has passed away at 56.

Johnson, who had been living in Georgia, was diagnosed with cancer in 2021.

Johnson went on to play fullback for three ACC championship teams at Clemson (1986-88) and was a two-time honorable mention All-America. He played in 46 games for the Tigers, including four bowl games.

Johnson led the ACC in rushing touchdowns in 1987.

He rushed for  1,579 yards in his career, scored 23 touchdowns and was credited with 180 knockdown blocks, still a record for Clemson backs.

In a 1987 win against North Carolina, Johnson totaled 124 yards on 25 carries and had 11 knockdown blocks.

In the 1988 Citrus Bowl, Johnson scored three touchdowns against Penn State, rushing for 88 yards on 18 carries. He was the first Tiger to score three touchdowns in a bowl game.

Johnson lasted until the 10th round of the 1989 NFL draft when the Houston Oilers picked him, but he not only made the league, he lasted for eight seasons.

He played in 121 NFL games for  the Oilers, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks  and Tampa Bay Bucs and scored eight touchdowns. He totaled 228 rushing yards and 218 receiving yards.

In a playoff game in January 1992, Johnson scored the only touchdown for the Falcons in a 24-7 loss to the Washington Redskins at RFK Stadium.   

HS soccer

Emily Kelly made 15 saves for West Rowan in Tuesday’s 6-0 loss to Lake Norman Charter.

The Falcons played without Brittany Vanhoose (illness).

HS golf

Salisbury golfers hold a 29-shot lead in the Central Carolina Conference standings after four matches.

Salisbury’s John McCoy and Bryant Davis are tied for first in the individual standings.

HS baseball

Salisbury pounded out a 14-3 win against North Hills on Monday.

The Hornets got two hits each from Hank Webb, Cole Price and Landon Tucker. Jackson Sparger drove in two runs.

Tucker pitched two innings and Price pitched three.

HS softball

Davie’s Sydney Dirks, a middle infielder headed to Western Carolina, hit her 20th home run to break the career record for the program.


College basketball

Catawba’s star guard Lyrik Thorne announced on social media that she plans to return.

Thorne was the Southeast Region Player of the Year and the South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year

Thorne has played four seasons,but one of those was the shortened COVID season for which athletes were granted a “redshirt” year.

College baseball

Liberty’s Kane Kepley (South Rowan) went 6-for-12 as the Flames went 2-1 in a weekend series with Kennesaw State.

Kepley had two doubles and two RBIs in a win on Saturday.


Methodist’s Jackson Deal (South Rowan) is batting .352 and has scored 56 runs in 32 games.

Deal has walked 34 times while striking out 15 times, and he has 15 steals in 16 attempts.

Deal went 5-for-10 with six runs scored as Methodist won two of three in a weekend series with Southern Virginia.


Southern Wesleyan’s Payne Stolsworth (West Rowan) had another strong start on Saturday in a 9-2 win against Greensboro.

Stolsworth (7-0) has struck out 67 in 60 innings and twice has been named USA South Pitcher of the Week.


Sam Safrit (Carson) got his first college win as Pfeiffer beat William Peace 7-4 on Sunday.

Minor league baseball

The Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (5-3) opened their home season on Tuesday night against the Charleston River Dogs.

The teams will play a six-game series before taking Monday off.


Owen White (Carson) is off to a great start with the Frisco Roughriders.

White hasn’t allowed a run in 7 2/3 innings. He’s struck out five while allowing three walks and two hits.

College tennis

Catawba’s women are seeded fifth in the South Atlantic Conference Tournament and will play No. 4  Anderson on Thursday in Sumter, S.C.

Mid. school baseball

Brody Pope went 3-for-3 in West Rowan’s 11-4 win against China Grove.

Cole Ludwick and Connor DiCarlo had two hits and two RBIs.


Corriher-Lipe picked up a 12-0 win over Southeast.

Jacob Prevette hurled a gem on the mound, pitching five innings of no-hit ball while striking out seven.

Prevette, Case Beaver, and Blake Hunter had multiple hits.

Kaleb Underwood drove in five runs.


Corriher-Lipe  won 16-0 against  Knox  at Arnold “Fat” Correll Field.

Blake Hunter and Levi Ballard had three RBIs each.

Noah Yow and Dalton Mullis knocked in two  runs. Korbin Childers, Brennan Culp, Matthew Hamilton, Nick Washburn, and Easton Akers had RBIs.

Hunter, Childers, and Yow combined for eight strikeouts and didn’t allow a hit or walk.


West Rowan scored five runs in the seventh to beat Southeast 15-14.

JR Taylor and Jayden Sanders drove in four runs each for the Bulldogs.

Taylor homered. Luke Bame drove in three runs.


Offers, commits, etc.

West Rowan wrestler Cristian Hercules, 3A heavyweight champ, plans to continue his career at UNC Pembroke.


North Rowan girls basketball star Bailee Goodlett  visited Winston-Salem State.


Salisbury defensive back Tyree Brown committed to Livingstone.

Local golf

In a McCanless Couples Captain’s Choice event, the team of JD Kirk, Larry Clifton, Crystal Clement and Susan Wydner edged the team of Clarence Hobart and Azalee & David Huneycutt for first place.

Heather DePalma-Spivey had closest to the pin.