West Rowan bounces back
HARRISBURG — West Rowan vented a season’s worth of frustration Friday night.
The Falcons put on their big-boy pants and battered Hickory Ridge 45-24 in their SPC finale.
“Finally, man. That was long overdue,” coach Scott Young said after West (6-5, 4-4) snapped a two-game skid and secured a 3A state playoff berth. “I’ve been a head coach 16 years, but I can’t remember a time when we needed a win as bad as we did tonight.”
They got it because their offensive line opened holes wide enough to drive the team bus through. West rushed for 416 yards and six touchdowns while its defense forced three first-half turnovers and handled HR’s hurry-up offense with the calmness of a movie usher.
“It felt like this is the game we’ve been waiting for,” senior lineman Trey Brawley said. “It’s been coming for a long time. Now we’ve just got to keep it rolling.”
West rolled behind running back Daisean Reddick, the slippery senior who zigged and zagged his way for a career-high 209 yards and four TD’s. He finished the regular season with 1,051 rushing yards.
“If it weren’t for the OL, I wouldn’t have those yards,” Reddick said. “It’s been a tough year. A lot of stuff has happened to our team.”
Stuff like losing four of their last five games before last night, a late-season swoon that relegated them to middle-of-the-pack status and fourth place in the league standings. All this victory guaranteed was a first-round playoff game on the road.
“We feel very confident,” quarterback Harrison Baucom said after scrambling for his 11th and 12th touchdowns of the fall. “We’ll polish it up all week and get ready to play ball next week.”
West was clearly ready for the defending conference champion Raging Bulls (4-7, 3-5). Defensive lineman Derrick Fortson recovered a fumble on HR’s first play from scrimmage — a turnover that led to Reddick’s 27-yard TD run just 1:19 into the game. “I just followed the blocks,” he said. “They led me to the end zone.”
By halftime the Falcons owned a 24-12 advantage, despite allowing 15 first downs and 266 total yards. That changed in the second half when Baucom — whose rough-house runs netted him 50 yards — directed a pair of time-consuming scoring drives that put West up 38-12.
“They had a great game-plan and did what I was kind of afraid of — control the line of scrimmage,” noted losing coach Marty Paxton. “Every time they needed third-and-5 they’d get third-and-five-and-a-half. They kept the ball away from us.”
The hosts sandwiched a couple of fourth-quarter touchdowns around Reddick’s final score — a 4-yard burst that capped a seven-play drive with 6:47 to play. By game’s end Young’s confidence in his team had been restored. Before kickoff he called West “underachievers” and jokingly threatened to forfeit any ensuing playoff game if the Falcons lost. Afterward, he sounded reassured.
“When we play our game, no team in the bracket wants to see West Rowan,” Young crowed. “When we play lousy, any team in the bracket can beat West Rowan. Here’s a fair assessment — when we put it all together, we’re a tough out for anyone.”