Prep Football: Salisbury hero Tywun Rivens
By Mike London
SALISBURY —The Salisbury Hornets have produced stellar linebackers in the last dozen years, including Rowan County players or co-players of the year Don Ambers, Harry Howard, Pierre Jimenez and Kavari Hillie.
Junior middle linebacker Tywun Rivens reminded coach Ryan Crowder of those guys in Friday’s 31-6 home win against Surry Central. Rivens had 17 tackles, including three for loss.
“He had one of the top four or five linebacker games we’ve had since I’ve been here — a Kavari Hillie game,” Crowder said. “Football is a hard, violent game, and Tywun doesn’t shy away from that. He plays hard, he plays physical, and he likes the contact.”
Salisbury (2-4) stopped a four-game slide against Surry Central, holding the visitors to six first downs and 64 rushing yards. Rivens, roaming in the middle of the Hornets’ 3-5-3 defense, was the ringleader.
“He was always in the right stance, he was reading everything correctly, and he was just itching to go,” Crowder said. “He attacked everything they did with no hesitation, and when you’re playing as fast as he was playing, it’s hard to get blocked.”
Rivens explained that he was a defensive lineman as a freshman. As a sophomore, still playing mostly on Thursdays, he made a transition to linebacker.
“I needed to get better to be a varsity player,” Rivens said. “When I got to the varsity I wanted to be playing to the best of my ability. I love football, and now I’m ready to give the best that I’ve got in the classroom, the weight room and on the field.”
While he’s listed at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Rivens looks bigger than that out of pads. He’s obviously been lifting frequently, but his calling card is still quickness.
Crowder said his speed produced cartoon-like moments in the Surry Central game.
“Their guards and tackles knew they needed to try to block him, but it was almost like, ‘Hey, where did that guy go?'”, Crowder said. “They were looking around for him, but he was already slinging a guy around and making the tackle.”
While it sounds like Friday was easy, it’s not like Surry Central (2-4) is awful. The Golden Eagles traveled to Salisbury from Dobson with a two-game winning streak, including a rare victory over Mount Airy, and they were eliminated from the state playoffs by Salisbury last season.
“They were a pretty good team and they ran a counter play that was tricky, but I credit our coaches for having us well-prepared to stop everything that we saw,” Rivens said. “I just read their guards, if they were pulling or not, and I knew what was coming.”
Rivens had a fumble recovery and a nice return in Salisbury’s opening-night win against South Rowan, and he pounced on another fumble against Lake Norman.
The Hornets’ points-allowed numbers still aren’t pretty because of the 55 points 4A Lake Norman put up against them, but their yardage-allowed stats reveal a defensive unit that’s generally been stout.
Rivens said the best thing about Friday wasn’t his 17 tackles, it was that the Hornets’ offense got rolling with a season-high 278 rushing yards.
“The offense kept us off the field, gave us a chance to rest a little bit, and that makes all the difference,” Rivens said. “It felt great to see them moving the ball and putting points on the board. It felt great to play as a team and win a football game.”
Rivens may have more games in him like Friday’s because he’s not satisfied. He said he won’t be content until he has a night where he makes the tackle on every snap.
“I want to make my family proud, and I want to make my teammates and coaches proud,” Rivens said. “My goal is to finish every single play.”
The Hornets are off this week. When they return to action it will be for the start of Central Carolina Conference play against East Davidson.