High school football: Light week ahead, but intriguing matchups

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 7, 2023


By Mike London

Week 4 games …

SALISBURY — It will be a light high school football Friday locally, but it’s also a significant one.

The South Rowan-A.L. Brown rivalry will be rekindled at South, the first meeting of the Raiders and Wonders since 2016.

It’s not expected to be a tight game, but as South head coach Chris Walsh said earlier this season, it’s an important game for the southern Rowan community and it’s a game that needs to be played, regardless of the outcome.

Salisbury travels two hours northeast to Roxboro to play Person. Roxboro is far enough north that Hank Webb probably can kick a football into Virginia from there.

That game isn’t supposed to be all that close, but it is expected to be the best challenge the Hornets have faced so far. Person has been putting up a lot of points and is 3-0.

There may be an exciting game in Spencer, where North Rowan is favored to win against TW Andrews.

Salisbury never has played Person, while North never has played TW Andrews. This is sort of that last week of odd non-conference games before the league action cranks up.

This is the open week for Carson, West Rowan and East Rowan. It comes at the ideal time for them, a break between the non-conference and conference portions of the season.

Carson (1-2) and West (0-3) will return to action against each other on Sept. 15 to start South Piedmont Conference play.

East will finally get to play its first home game on Sept. 15, with SPC opponent Concord visiting Granite Quarry.

East quarterback Gavin Walker, who threw four touchdown passes in the second half at North Stanly, broke a collar bone against Salisbury. That’s a blow to the Mustangs as they move forward.

“He’d worked so hard and had improved so much,” East coach John Fitz said. “He’s a senior, so it’s just a very bad break.”


Salisbury (3-0) at Person (3-0), 7 p.m.

Person County, if you’re wondering, was named for Thomas Person, a military hero in the Revolutionary War.

The most famous person from Person? That would be MLB Hall of Famer Enos “Country” Slaughter.

This certainly has the look of a marquee game, although the high-powered Hornets are 30-point favorites over the 3A Person Rockets, according to the Massey Ratings.

Person is given an 8 percent chance of winning.

Person crushed Ben Smith 68-20, headed across the Virginia line to wallop Halifax County 62-20 and beat Northern Durham 35-19 last week.

Person’s offense is run-heavy with only about eight passing attempts per game, but it has been an irresistible force so far.

Daejon Hodge, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound back, has produced three straight 100-yard games and has 704 rushing yards. The other part of Person’s 1-2 punch — Zikeus Moore — has 426 rushing yards and nine TDs.

Salisbury has been hard to run the ball against, so that’s probably going to be a story line for this one.

Offensively, Jamal Rule scored five touchdowns in last week’s romp against East Rowan, joining a fairly short list of players who have accomplished that feat in the county.

Rule has rushed for 180, 165 and 274 yards in the Hornets’ first three games.

Mike Geter now has 3,297 passing yards and is the all-time leader at Salisbury. He topped John Knox’s 3,200 yards last week.

Knox is still the career total offense leader (that’s passing yards plus rushing yards), but Geter is closing in on that school record, as well.

Knox amassed 5,496 yards. Geter hasn’t been running the ball often this season, but he now has 5,211.

Deuce Walker has 18 catches for 259 yards and is closing in on Marcus Cook’s school records for career catches and career receiving yards.


A.L. Brown (1-1) at South Rowan (1-1), 7 p.m.

Both teams opened with a victory. Then both took a loss before being open last week.

South Rowan lost at 1A South Stanly the last time it played. South Rowan opened by beating Union Academy.

A.L. Brown owns a home win against West Rowan and a loss to Northwest Cabarrus.

South has good skill people, but the Wonders are significantly larger.

The Massey Ratings have the Wonders as 36-point favorites over the Raiders. South is given a 2 percent chance of winning, which is somewhat better than having no chance at all.

The Wonders have won the last seven meetings and scored 40 or more points in all of them.

The last two meetings — 67-0 in 2015 and 65-7 in 2016 — led to a break in the long-running series. The game wasn’t helping A.L. Brown very much and it wasn’t helping South at all, and the rivalry had been severely diminished.

But now it’s back.

There’s plenty of history. A.L. Brown leads the series 45-8-2.

South’s eight victories are all well-remembered by the men who played in them and their families. South’s most recent victory in the series was in 2009, which was also the last time South fielded a winning football team.

South also won against the Wonders in 2003, 1994, 1983, 1981, 1976. 1975 and 1968. The ties occurred the first two years after South opened — 1961 and 1962.

The series rivalry peaked from 1983-85 when the games went into overtime three straight seasons. South won in 1983, but the Wonders won in 1984 and in three overtimes in 1985.


T.W. Andrews (2-1) at North Rowan (2-1). 7:30 p.m.

North Rowan is favored by about 20 points by the Massey Ratings.

TWAndrews has very little football history with Rowan County. TW Andrews lost to West Rowan in the 3A playoffs in 2000.

North Rowan has lost to Forest Hills, but has beaten East Rowan and Anson.

Junior QB Jeremiah Alford, who has accounted for 75 touchdowns in his career, and senior running back Jaemias Morrow, who has 57 career TDs, lead the Cavaliers.

The Red Raiders of TW Andrews are from High Point. They have beaten Bartlett Yancey and High Point Central.

They lost to Thomasville 25-6 last week, so this game will give North Rowan a good idea of how the Cavaliers will stack up against the T-ville Bulldogs in the Central Carolina Conference.

TW Andrews has some balance on offense and throws the ball pretty well. Devin Heckstall, a 6-foot-2 senior, has thrown for 370 yards and four TDs.

“They’ve got a lot of athletes and they’re unorthodox,” North coach Josh Sophia said. “They might go five wide on offense, and on defense, they might blitz everybody.”