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Spartans look for revenge

Central Davidson's Nick White catches a pass as Thomasville's Gabe Pesqueria closes in for a hit during which Pesqueria took the ball away from White in a game earlier this season. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)

Central Davidson would be hard-pressed to duplicate last week’s excitement down in Marshville, where the Spartans rallied for an incredible 47-46 win over Forest Hills in the first round of the 2-AA state playoffs.

“That’s for sure,” said Central coach Brad Morton. “I have to give all the credit to the players. They came out in the second half and things went our way. We got some momentum.

“Still, with 88 yards to go and 3:47 or whatever it was (3:52) left, these kids, they had to get the job done. It was just wonderful to see them get the job done. A bunch of kids coming together, trusting each other, making things happen.”

And now the Spartans move on.

Central (7-5) is at Central Carolina Conference rival Salisbury (9-3) in the second round on Friday. Salisbury won the regular season meeting 45-35 and, given the explosive nature of the teams’ nontraditional offenses, another shootout is likely.

“We’re going to have to get some stops to be able to win,” Morton said. “Salisbury is by far the most talented team in our conference. We’re going to have to be disciplined in what we do.”

But Salisbury will have to make some stops as well.

“I think Brad has done a good job of putting the ball in the end zone,” said Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan, whose team won the 2010 state championship. “They’ve got a never-say-die attitude. That offense makes them difficult to play. A lot of people say that about us.”

Central’s double-wing offense has sprung record-setting tailback Saig Skeen to some huge numbers. Strong and fast, Skeen has rushed for a school single-season record 2,308 yards and 30 touchdowns. He is the school’s career rushing leader. Josh Moore has 747 yards and eight touchdowns and quarterback Nathan Dennis has thrown for 527 yards and eight TDs.

Salisbury has enough weapons in its hybrid wishbone attack to make any defensive coordinator wince.

Tailback Justin Ruffin has 1,246 yards and 27 total touchdowns. Quarterback Brian Bauk is especially dangerous running the midline read option, as evidenced by his 1,003 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. Bauk has also thrown for 681 yards and eight touchdowns. Backup tailback Max Allen has 801 yards rushing.

“We’ve got to try to keep them from scoring and score some ourselves,” Morton said.

The Spartans, who overcame a 30-13 deficit in the second half, did come up with some crucial stops in the fourth quarter last Friday. Repeating that success could prove to be a challenge against Salisbury.

“We might even put Keion Adams in there, too,” Pinyan said. “We don’t want you to be able to key on anybody. We might even slip up and throw the ball.”

Adams leads the Salisbury defense with five interceptions.

The Spartans have their own ball-hawking ace in Levi Bruff, who also has five interceptions and returned a fumble 33 yards for a touchdown against Forest Hills.

Central recently added a threat on special teams. Brandon Capuano, who recently moved to the area from Katy, Texas, had a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown last Friday.

Salisbury is coming off a 42-31 first round win over Cuthbertson.


Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or