Prep Football: The Notebook, Week 5
From staff reports
Daniel Yates knew his switch from running back to wide receiver this season would mean fewer opportunities with the ball in his hands.
Yates had confidence in the switch before the season, when he said he’d get the ball less often but be able to hurt opponents more when he does get it. That theory seems to be working.
Yates scored two touchdowns Friday night against East Rowan ó one on a 20-yard run and the other on an 82-yard kickoff return.
He didn’t catch a pass but finished with six rushes for 40 yards ó an average of 6.7 yards per carry. And his fourth-quarter kickoff return gave the Cougars a 26-14 lead after East got within 20-14.
Yates fielded the kickoff in stride just outside the right hash mark. He immediately ran across the field toward the Carson bench, then cut straight upfield around the 25-yard line.
Once he found that seam, Yates had only the kicker to beat.
“I saw a wall of white coming at me, and I didn’t enjoy that very much,” said Yates, referring to the Mustangs’ road jerseys. “So I cut back to the middle. There was just a bunch of orange, so I just kind of went through them. Then the kicker was just standing there looking at me.
“I knew it was gonna be open, but I didn’t expect it to be that wide open.”
ANYTHING YOU CAN DO: Yates’ kickoff return was the most dynamic play of the night through the first 46 minutes, but sophomore teammate Shaun Warren might have topped him with a 73-yard touchdown run with 1:28 remaining.
Warren ran over teammate Duwan Robertson from behind, leaned over but stayed on his feet, leapt over Robertson and somehow emerged from a pack of about six East Rowan defenders.
“Somebody kind of scooped me but didn’t finish it,” Warren said of the initial tackle attempt. “Then somebody grabbed my facemask and pulled me, but I spun off. I ended up getting out of it.
“I thought they were catching up on me. I was trying to hurry up.”
IS HE PLAYING DEFENSE? Carson coach Mark Woody has found yet another way to involve Yates, playing him at defensive end a couple of times late in the game Friday.”In passing downs, I stuck Daniel Yates in at defensive end to rush the quarterback,” Woody said. “He’s that kind of kid that can do that. He’s an athlete and runs well, and I trust him.”
ADJUSTMENTS: Woody praised the play of both Dakota Jones and Zack White after their defensive performances against East.
Starting defensive lineman Joseph Basinger was injured early in the game, and other injuries caused Woody to shift players around at linebacker and along the line.
“We had some kids that aren’t on the field a lot step up and make some plays for us,” Woody said.
Basinger will likely miss Friday’s game at Lake Norman, but Carson expects to get imposing, 217-pound freshman linebacker Chris Barnhardt back from injury.
West junior K.P. Parks has already pushed well past all the documented rushing records in county history, and it will be front-page news if he doesn’t surpass the 5,000-yard plateau for his career in Friday’s homecoming game in Mount Ulla against Statesville.
Parks enters the game with 4,926 yards and 68 career TDs.
UNSUNG HERO: West coach Scott Young said defensive lineman Eli Goodson did a great job congesting the middle and tying up blockers in Friday’s 28-6 victory against Northwest Cabarrus.
Goodson created openings for linebacker Josh Poe, who had a breakout game.
CALLED BACK: West’s win wasn’t as close as it looks. It had two long TDs called back, including an amazing breakaway by Parks.
West’s prettiest play was a play-action fake by quarterback B.J. Sherrill and a perfect strike to wide-open Jon Crucitti for an apparent touchdown.
That’s the sort of play the threat presented by Parks makes available to the Falcons, but it didn’t stand.
West’s 308-pound right tackle Rodney Cline had drifted past the line of scrimmage and the TD was nullified when the Falcons were flagged for having an ineligible receiver downfield.
“At least Rodney was open,” Young quipped.
HARD HIT: Northwest’s best running back Dolando Clowney took a wicked blow from three Falcons near the sideline. Linebacker Nate Dulin laid a crushing lick on Clowney, who stayed down several minutes before exiting with apparent leg and rib injuries.
SAD NEWS: West defensive lineman Mackel (pronounced Mikail) Gaither lost a grandfather, Leon Gaither, this week.
Gaither, 83, was one of the legendary players for the J.C. Price Red Devils in the early 1940s, when Salisbury’s school for African-American students fielded some of the best teams in county history under coach S.W. Lancaster.
“Mackel missed some time with family things last week, and family always comes first,” Young said. “He was back with us on Friday night and played well.”
The Mustangs got all of their points on Ben DeCelle touchdown receptions in the 33-21 loss to Carson, but two of DeCelle’s three scores were met by skepticism from Cougar fans.
DeCelle’s first touchdown catch came with 21 seconds remaining in the first half. DeCelle reached with his left hand to pull down a pass over his outside shoulder but couldn’t reel in the catch cleanly. He still appeared to be juggling the ball when he stepped out of the back of the end zone.
“I felt like I was in play,” DeCelle said. “Obviously they didn’t.”
DeCelle’s second touchdown appeared to be a catch, but referees didn’t offer a signal until after defensive back Joseph Keophilavanh wrestled the ball away from DeCelle in the end zone.
“I thought there was no controversy on that one,” DeCelle said. “I came down with it, they blew the whistle, I started to get up, and the kid started reaching for the ball. So I was like, ‘Whatever, I guess I’ll fight for it‚’ ”
IRON MAN: DeCelle’s role expanded even more Friday with tailback Thomas Lowe no longer on the team.
East coach Brian Hinson has to limit how he uses DeCelle on offense because DeCelle already starts at safety and returns both punts and kickoffs. He started the season as a receiver and now shares running back duties with Quentin Sifford.
DeCelle averaged 5.3 yards per carry on 10 rushes against Carson, scored all three East Rowan touchdowns, caught seven passes for 102 yards and intercepted a pass.
“I say it every week: His motor’s gonna keep going,” Hinson said. “There’s no denying it ó whenever he’s on the field, he’s one of the guys we’re trying to get the ball to. But we do have to rest him at times. He’s one of those kids that just wants to win and wants to play his best at all times.
“So even when he’s totally exhausted, he’ll be out there. He’s a pleasure to coach.”
Cadarreus Mason and Kelsey Robinson, standouts on South Rowan’s defensive line, made an offensive impact against Statesville.
Mason and Robinson lined up behind quarterback Blake Houston and in front of tailback Deandre Harris in critical short-yardage situations. Harris rushed five times for 18 yards out of that set and picked up two fourth-down conversions.
On South’s first scoring drive, the Raiders used the alignment on the final three plays. Harris gained 5 yards on a fourth-and-1 snap from the 13, and two 4-yard rushes pushed South into the end zone.
“We’d been working on it all summer until August,” South coach Jason Rollins said. “It was so hot early in the season, those guys on the line were sucking wind, so you can’t get yourself in that sometimes.”
KICK BALL: South jumped ahead 20-17 with a touchdown late in the third quarter, but a dead-ball penalty moved the line of scrimmage back 15 yards before the conversion try.
Rollins considered going for two, then sent unproven kicker Jacob Jester onto the field. He made the 35-yard attempt.
“I called timeout because he had not been tested in that situation,” Rollins said. “He looked me in the eyes said, ‘I got it; don’t worry about it.’
“Sometimes you have to trust the kids that they’ll make the right decision.”
FRUSTRATING: South is 1-3 despite outgaining opponents both on the ground and through the air.
South has a 775-610 advantage in rushing yards and a 387-306 passing edge.
Assuming he’s healthy again, North has to get the ball into the hands of senior Lathan Charleston. Charleston entered the season with 66 career catches for 1,108 yards and 12 TDs.
In four games this season, he has one catch for 2 yards.
Coach Joe Pinyan will welcome offensive lineman Eric So back this week. He has been out with a high ankle sprain suffered in the season opener against South Rowan.
So should be on the field when the Hornets travel to Central Davidson on Friday. They are coming off an open week.
The hardest week of practice is the open week,” coach Joe Pinyan said. “We came out practicing hard, though. We got a lot accomplished.
The War Eagles gave fans plenty to cheer about in a 51-6 road win against Berry. They had scoring plays of 87, 75, 74 and 57 yards.
Davie led 41-6 at halftime, averaging 16.3 yards per play. Zach Illing already had 198 yards passing by intermission.
FUTURE’S BRIGHT: The DC jayvees improved to 4-0 with a 28-6 win over Berry. They have won 15 straight games.
Two ex-Wonders, Antoine Nelson and former Lenoir-Rhyne captain Josh Reeves, have piloted the JVs to a 4-0 mark.
Both are Livingstone students.
Nick Bowton, Mike London, Bret Strelow, Ronnie Gallagher and Brian Pitts contributed to the notebook.