12/12/04 — All-Area - Aycock's Turner proven leader on the field

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All-Area - Aycock's Turner proven leader on the field

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on December 12, 2004 2:01 AM

PIKEVILLE -- Read, react, adjust.

As a three-year starting linebacker, Charles B. Aycock senior Turner Wood and the Falcon defense seemed to thrive in all three areas -- especially the latter. Two games this season seemed to go a long way in telling the story of a defense that held opponents to an area-best, under 230 yards per game.

Against Southern Wayne in Dudley, Wood and his teammates were burned by Saint running back Walter Best for several big plays and trailed 14-7 at the half. While the offense warmed up in the second half, the Falcon defense yielded just two plays for over 10 yards and no points in the second half of a 28-14 win.

With its season on the line at home against Northeast Guilford in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A (small-school) playoffs, Aycock dug itself a hole in the first quarter as the Rams scored twice behind the strength of a power running game. In the final three quarters, the Falcons gave up only a field goal as 18 total plays went for zero or less yards. Oh yeah, and Aycock won the wet, dramatic, first-round game 18-17 on Jon Burke's field goal as time expired.

Wood believes their ability to adjust after halftime came down to preparation and a key switch in the preseason from the 4-3 to the 4-4 defensive scheme.

"It was easier to adjust in the 4-4 and we had a lot of athletes and personnel," Wood said. "If we needed a certain flavor, we could switch things up. Once we learned to shut down one thing, we were prepared for the rest."

On a team with ample defensive talent, Wood was the glue in the middle. He finished with 66 solo tackles, 56 assists and three sacks, while picking off two passes and returning one for a touchdown. For those contributions and his on and off the field leadership, Wood is the 2004 News-Argus Defensive Player of the Year.

The preseason switch to the 4-4 under first-year, full-time defensive coordinator John Fidler proved to be an important shift in the defensive philosophy. It helped the Falcons better take advantage of a speedy group of linebackers and allowed Wood to roam with more freedom.

"The thing that sold us on the idea is that he's such a good tackler," Aycock coach Randy Pinkowski said. "In the 4-4, you can turn Turner a little more loose and not have to be so concerned with the counter play, because you've got another backer with you.

"He's just as fast left to right as straight ahead ... it paid tremendous dividends."


Nearly half of Aycock's opponents were held to under seven points this season, including a 15-0 shutout at home against rival Eastern Wayne.

His performance on the field on Friday night was obviously key, but Pinkowski points out his leadership Monday through Thursday was just as important to the Falcon program.

"Seven of these 20 seniors were on varsity as sophomores, and he's always been the leader of that pack ... a spokesman and the guy a lot of the guys model themselves after," he said "They made the commitment in the weight room, practice, behavior wise and as students too. That's a big part of it.

"He's (Wood) going to be one of those guys who will have that responsibility all his life. He's a natural-born leader."

As a junior, Wood had 116 tackles, while posting 96 tackles as a sophomore. Also, Wood wrestles in the 189-pound weight class for the Falcons. He chalks a lot of his and the team's success to Pinkowski and the rest of the coaching staff.

"You can tell how much of an impact he's (Pinkowski) made, especially in the weight room," Wood said "We played spring football this year, and we seemed to learn a lot more earlier. Wrestling really helps me, then I put on the weight for football.

"Coaches and players pushing you makes you want to make the team better."

Wood has been accepted to East Carolina University and is undecided about his major. He hasn't ruled out the possibility of trying to walk on for first-year coach Skip Holtz, but is more concerned about guiding the Golden Falcon wrestlers in his final campaign.

If the past and the 2004 football season is any indication, the Aycock grapplers are in good hands with Wood as a leader.