ROCKINGHAM — Even though more than 1,000 miles separate the two schools, there will be a “Johnny Football” sighting at Lake Norman Friday night.
It won’t be Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, but rather Lake Norman signal caller Josh Ladowski.
“That is probably as close a comparison as you can get,” Lake Norman coach Rob McNeely said. “Last year he was an athlete that we played at quarterback. He had a solid season, but he wasn’t a very good passer. We knew what we had with him as a runner, so we simplified the passing concepts for him and the receivers.”
Ladowski responded to the changes and worked in the summer with his coaches to improve as a passer. The junior has completed 62.6 percent of his passes this season for 2,981 yards and 29 touchdowns. He has been intercepted 10 times in 265 attempts.
As a runner, Ladowski has been just as lethal this season, rushing for 1,876 yards and 27 touchdowns on 293 carries.
Ladowski was limited to a season-low 101 rushing yards in the 28-26 loss to North Mecklenburg. Hough stymied Ladowski in the air in Week 3, allowing 146 yards and recorded two interceptions in its 51-29 victory.
Conversely, Ladowski ran for a season-best 253 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-41 win over Statesville. Against South Iredell, he threw for 414 yards and three touchdowns in a thrilling 42-41 victory.
“He is very mature, a great student, he has something like a 4.4 GPA,” McNeely said. “Out on the field today he was out there in the rain and sleet in short sleeves. He is the ultimate competitor.”
Corey Joyner has emerged as Ladowski’s favorite downfield target. Joyner set a school mark in receiving yards with 202 in a season-opening loss to North Mecklenburg. Joyner broke the record again against Alexander Central with eight receptions for 254 yards.
For the season, Joyner has 80 catches for 1,617 yards and 20 touchdowns.
“He’s a great route runner, he’s very smooth,” McNeely said. “He gets to a lot of passes people don’t think he can get to. When Josh gets into trouble he seems to find Corey, they kind of just click.”
Raiders fall out of polls
ROCKINGHAM — For the first time this season, the Richmond Senior football team is not ranked in the top 20 in any of the polls in North Carolina.
The Raiders lost their second straight game to fall to 8-3 on the season and dropped out of the final Associated Press North Carolina High School Football rankings.
Mallard Creek retained the top spot with nine first-place votes. Scotland once again was second and earned the other first-place ballot, followed by Dudley, Hough and West Forsyth. Charlotte Catholic and Pinecrest both inched up a spot this week at No. 6 and No. 7. Butler, Mooresville and Northwest Guilford were tied for eighth.
The NCPreps.com poll also had Mallard Creek, Scotland and Dudley at the top. West Forsyth was fourth, Hough fifth and Charlotte Catholic sixth. Mooresville edged Knightdale for seventh and Butler and Northwest Guilford tied at No. 9.
Richmond checked in at No. 21 in the CarolinaPreps.com power rankings. Mallard Creek, Scotland, Dudley, Hough and West Forsyth were the top five schools. Charlotte Catholic was sixth and Pinecrest was seventh. Butler, Hillside and Hoggard rounded out the top 10.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.