Friday Night Heroes: West Rowan's Logan Stoodley and Bubba McLaughlin
By Mike London
MOUNT ULLA - Carson trailed West Rowan 21-0 on Friday, but the Cougars had first-and-goal at the West 6 late in the first half after Austin McNeill connected with K.J. Pressley on a 61-yard pass play.
Brandon Sloop lined up as Carson's fullback, and the probability that Sloop would get the ball was high. The county's workhorse, he had carried 13 times already.
Sloop did get the handoff, and it was time for West Rowan's "Bash Brothers" to do their thing. Senior linebackers Logan Stoodley and Bubba McLaughlin, 465 pounds of off-the-field politeness and on-the-field mayhem, wrapped up Sloop at the 5 after a 1-yard gain.
"That was a good tandem tackle," McLaughlin said. "After that, Carson decided they needed to throw it. We ended up stopping them."
Teoz Mauney, who had a whale of a game on West's defensive line, sacked McNeill at the 10 on second down. Two passes fell incomplete, and the ballgame was decided.
In its march to three straight 3A state titles from 2008-10, West's defense stuffed the run, allowing 60, 68 and 67 rushing yards per game.
Believe it or not, West has been even better at run-stopping in 2012, allowing a meager 55 rushing yards per game and holding eight of 10 opponents under 100.
That's not to say it's all been the "Bash Brothers." West's stout defensive line takes on blockers and allows the Bashers to rack up tackles. And the four fast guys behind the Bashers are getting better every Friday.
Still, Friday's game was a showcase for the 6-foot, 220-pound Stoodley and the 6-2, 245-pound McLaughlin, one of the state's largest linebackers.
"No. 51 (Stoodley) we expected to play like that, but we hadn't seen No. 2 (McLaughlin) do the things he did to us watching him on film," Carson coach Mark Woody said. "Those two guys ran right through us. We never got both of them blocked on the same play."
McLaughlin and Stoodley were equally detrimental to Carson's dangerous passing game. Stoodley, who scored touchdowns against South Rowan and Reidsville, had two of West's five sacks, while McLaughlin had one.
"Our gameplan called for a lot of blitzes," Stoodley said. "As a linebacker, when you know you're going to blitz a lot, you get excited inside."
West called most of them at the right time. Once Stoodley engulfed McNeill before he could even pull away from center. McLaughlin's sack was created by West's coverage in the secondary.
"I thought he'd already thrown the ball as I pulled him down, and then I realized, 'Hey, he's still got it,' " McLaughlin said.
West coach Scott Young agreed his linebackers had a strong outing.
"Bubba played really well, although he's had other games just as good," Young said. "Stoodley actually has played better, like the Davie game when he had 16 tackles. But as far as both of them together on the same night, this was probably their best game."
Most Saturdays, Stoodley and McLaughlin stick together on recruiting trips. Both should get plenty of offers.
Stoodley has been a fixture at West for a while. He was defensive MVP of the state title game as a sophomore.
McLaughlin transferred to West over the summer from South Rowan.
"We've been good friends since the eighth grade, so I was very excited to have him come here," Stoodley said.
The original "Bash Brothers" were Oakland A's baseball sluggers Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, but McLaughlin points to fictional ice hockey enforcers Dean Portman and Fulton Reed, the "Bash Brothers" of the movie hit "The Mighty Ducks" as their inspiration.
"Oh, yeah, as soon as I started playing with Logan, I was thinking 'Bash Brothers,' " McLaughlin said.
The name fits. Never more so than last Friday.