Prep Football: West Rowan 53, West Iredell 0
By Mike London
MOUNT ULLA - West Rowan tailback Daisean Reddick was hit at the 28-yard line but kept his legs pumping and methodically toted an unfortunate pile of West Iredell tacklers all the way past midfield.
That play summed up West Rowan's 53-0 pounding of West Iredell on Friday. The visiting Warriors (1-9, 0-6) were overmatched and overwhelmed, and no amount of gumption was going to overcome the physical disparity between the two NPC teams.
"It really was a weird feeling," West Rowan coach Scott Young said. "When we've gotten to this game over the years, there's always been conference championships on the line or playoff seeding implications at the very least, and West Iredell always has played us tough. Even last year, it was 3-0 at halftime. But West Iredell is just very young and small and inexperienced this year."
When you're forced to play the young, the small and the inexperienced in Mount Ulla where West Rowan (9-2, 4-2) has won 62 straight against North Carolina opponents, it's going to get ugly. Give a lot of credit to West Iredell's Josh Lamberth, a running back who took a shotgun snap and tried to fight for a yard or 2 on every snap after halftime. He got hammered every play, but he never turned it over. His courage kept it from being 70-0.
"He's our utility guy," West Iredell coach Mark Weycker said. "He does whatever you ask him to do and does it with a high level of effort."
West Iredell's starting quarterback Brett Pope was hurt in the game at South Rowan on Sept. 14. Receiver Preston Harrison, all 5-foot-7 and 130 pounds of him, stepped in at quarterback after that and has carried West Iredell's offense, but he was battered for losses eight times in the first half and was too banged up to continue in the second half. Lamberth stepped in and did his best.
"The quarterback they used in the first half was quick," West DB Najee Tucker said. "But he was small and our defensive line was playing great. We had a lot of guys in their backfield on every play."
West Rowan dominated defensively as much as it's possible to dominate. Lamberth fought for 32 yards on 22 carries, but the Warriors had negative offense for the game.
WR's Kiero Cuthbertson had a sack, batted down a pass and made a fumble recovery in a hurry. Cuthbertson's fumble recovery gave the Falcons a short field, and they cashed in on a 32-yard pass play from Tyler Stamp to Brandon Ijames.
"That play was originally to go to the opposite side," Ijames said. "But Stamp and I had good communication, he saw I was open, and he put an incredible pass in a small window. (Caleb) Cranfield made a good block downfield, and I was glad to make a play."
Cranfield also was kicking PATs with Zack Russell away on a school trip. His kick made it 7-0, and it was 13-0 after a Tucker picked off a pass and worked his way through a maze of Warriors to score down the far sideline."
"I had to make a dedicated run to get that TD," Tucker said. "But the pick was pretty easy. The play they ran was exactly what we'd watched them do on film, and I just did what I was supposed to do."
A fumble recovery by Bubba McLaughlin gave the Falcons another scoring opportunity, and Desmond Jackson, who had 154 yards on just 10 carries, broke a 34-yarder, and then punched the ball in from the 1.
It was 27-0 at halftime after a two-play WR scoring drive - Stamp's 26-yard pass to tight end Jack Gallagher and a 29-yard run by Reddick, who had 108 yards on six carries.
The Falcons got second-half scores from Reddick, fullback Cody Eggers, Cedric Wilson and backup QB Darius Gabriel.
"I was very happy for all of those kids," Young said. "Eggers does a lot of behind-the-scenes dirty work for us."
On Senior Night, Eggers was given honorary first carries to start both halves.
Weycker won't have to deal with the Falcons next year, as realignment takes the schools in different directions. The school Weycker has served for 26 years is shrinking and really should be 2A, but it will be in a 3A/4A league the next four years. He'll miss his tussles with the Falcons.
"West Rowan's physicality is there every year, and their front seven defensively is as good as ever," he said. "They'll just smash you and mash you, but I always thought it was great for us to play West Rowan. They made you work harder. They made you get better in order to compete with them. I always believed that West Rowan elevated the play of everyone in our league."