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Co-Coaches of the Year: West's Scott Young and Salisbury's Joe Pinyan

By Ronnie Gallagher

Salisbury Post

When you get right down to it, West Rowan’s Scott Young and Salisbury’s Joe Pinyan could probably always share the Coach of the Year award.

But voters love the underdog. That’s why in past years Salisbury’s Mike Peavey took the honor with a four-win season and East Rowan’s Will Orbin won it with a five-win campaign.

You tend to forget the Youngs and Pinyans because they always win

They’re expected to win.

This season, there was no way to distinguish between the two.

* Both led their teams to 11-win seasons.

* Both led their teams to outright conference titles.

* West won the head-to-head matchup, but Salisbury went further in the playoffs.

So neither had a problem sharing the 2006 Coach of the Year award.

The reason? It’s really not for them. It’s a team award that includes the assistants.

“I’m a firm believer in letting the coaches coach,” Young said. “Everybody has to work together to make the whole thing go.”

*

Pinyan has a perfect example of what assistants mean to a head coach.

Less than a minute remained in the game with Lexington. Salisbury led 34-33 but saw the Yellow Jackets line up for a two-point conversion to win it.

Pinyan said the first thing that went through his mind was, “Out of 999,000 plays, which one are they going to run?”

He let defensive coordinator Ryan Crowder make the defensive call.

“What I’ve learned in four years is that when you’re in a situation like that, you trust your assistants more than you ever have,” Pinyan said. “I didn’t once tell Coach Crowder what defense to call on that play.”

Crowder — and defensive back Boo Blakeney — made Pinyan look good. Blakeney made the hit on Josh Leak inches from the goal line to preserve the victory.

“Before the play, you think, ‘If we don’t stop them, what am I going to tell the newspaper guys?’ ” Pinyan said with a laugh. “If they don’t get it, you’re glad you don’t have to answer those questions.

“That’s why I think the Coach of the Year award — and I think Scott would agree — is not an honor for us. It’s an honor for the assistants.”

*

Young does agree. He was an assistant once. In 1994, he got his first job at Davie County.

“I remember being real excited,” Young said. “I thank Randall Ward for giving me the opportunity. I was given the chance to come in and coach immediately.”

Now as a head coach, Young wants the assistants to have the same chance.

“As long as they do philosophy-wise what you want, and as long as it’s coordinated, you’ll be OK,” he said.

Young’s assistants have stayed with him for the most part. The camaraderie has helped put West on top of the county since Young took over in 1998.

The Falcons have won 21 straight in the county and 18 straight in the North Piedmont Conference.

This past season, West won its third straight league title.

Young accomplished it despite losing all of his skill people. But he had two monstrous lines and used them to perfection.

“You can make football as complicated as you want,” Young said, “but it comes down to blocking and tackling.”

The “Tradition never graduates” theme works at West because Young and his staff preach to the kids that anything worth having is worth working hard for.

That’s why it’s so hard on coaches when the season finally ends.

Young takes wife Diane and the kids on a trip.

“I pout real bad,” he said. “The first Monday you come back and there’s no practice is hard. I try to ease the pain by getting out of town that next Friday.”

Forest Hills ended Salisbury’s season in the third round of the 2AA playoffs.

“I still haven’t watched the tape,” Pinyan sighed. “I still haven’t watched the Bandys tape from two years ago.”

Young added, “It’s where you’re almost afraid to lose now. That keeps you motivated. You’re motivated by fear.”

*

Pinyan should know about the fear factor. His players were the Cardiac Kids, eking out close victory after close victory.

Pinyan knows some people out there probably think the Hornets were lucky to finish 11-3.

“If I knew that’s what lucky was, I’d be in Las Vegas,” he said. “It develops character in the kids when you live that close to the edge. But it’s hard on the head coach. See these gray hairs?”

A 39-13 record at Salisbury, along with at least a share of the Central Carolina Conference title in all four years, can make a coach forget those graying areas.

Pinyan and Young take the stress while letting the assistants make many of the decisions. They worry more about administrative duties, chemistry and dealing with parents.

*

Pinyan has yet another example of how a head coach must listen to his assistants.

Against Ledford in a 21-21 tie, Pinyan was ready to run the clock out in regulation and take his chances in overtime.

“My coaches said, ‘We can move the ball,’ and I thought, ‘Well, maybe we can do this,’ ” Pinyan recalled.

Salisbury went down the field and won the game on a Zach Collins field goal with 2.1 seconds left.

“They don’t give Assistant Coach of the Year,” Pinyan said. “But those guys coach the positions, and it all comes together. Scott and I get the credit, but that’s not where the credit should be.”

*

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com.

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