Prep Football: West Rowan 28, Northwest Cabarrus 6
By Mike London
KANNAPOLIS ó West Rowan didn’t dazzle, didn’t earn any style points or break any records, but it did what it almost always does.
West’s 28-6 road victory against Northwest Cabarrus on Friday was its 27th victory in its last 28 NPC games. West has won 19 straight NPC road contests and hasn’t dropped a league road game since it fell in overtime to former NPC member A.L. Brown in 2004.
“We know how much teams want to beat us so when we go on the road we play hard to match up with their intensity,” West tailback K.P. Parks said.
Parks had to earn every yard and had a breakaway TD called back, but he still hammered for 165 yards on 31 carries and scored three times.
The junior, already Rowan County’s all-time leading rusher, boosted his career totals to 4,926 yards and 68 TDs.
“Northwest took away the long runs, so we had to take the 3s, the 5s, the 7s that were there,” Parks said. “The offensive line kept pounding and we wore them down some in the second half.”
Parks blistered Northwest for a county-record six TDs and 339 yards last season, but West coach Scott Young complimented how new coach Rich Williams chose to contain Parks.
“Last year, they had a lot of guys on the line of scrimmage, but if we punctured that, K.P. was gone,” Young said. “They still brought a lot of guys up in the box tonight, but their linebackers kept good depth with a safety behind them. That made it hard to break anything. We had to show a lot of patience.”
West’s defense produced the first score when lineman Kenderic Dunlap scooped an errant pitch like a shortstop and rumbled 20 yards with 1:50 left in the first quarter. From that point, West’s defense kept a firm grip on the game, but the Falcons (3-1, 2-0) never could blow it open.
“We came in knowing we had to stop their running game,” said Josh Poe, who created havoc for the Falcons and combined on a devastating 15-yard sack with Chris Smith. “Once we stopped the run, we got more pressure on the quarterback. We felt like we were in control.”
Northwest’s running game took a hit when top back Dolando Clowney hurt his ribs against South Rowan. Clowney gave it a try against West, but he was done after two carries and one bruising tackle.
Northwest’s defense was stout, and Graham Wright was everywhere, making tackles, catching passes and returning kicks, but it was an uphill fight.
“Last week to this week, we played a whole lot better and this time we fought and scrapped to the end,” Williams said. “Our guys did OK against K.P., but not quite as good a job as we wanted. He still got his yards as a good back will do.”
Parks didn’t get much early. None of his first 16 tries went for more than 5 yards. But one was a 5-yard TD to cap a 25-yard, short-field drive that resulted from Northwest (2-2, 0-2) being pinned deep, then committing a personal foul on punt coverage. That made it 14-0.
A muffed punt by West, presented Northwest with field position in the second quarter, and the Trojans scored on quarterback Jonathon Wallace’s 5-yard flip to tight end Gavin Billings.
West answered with a backbreaker in the final minute of the first half for a 21-6 lead. Quarterback B.J. Sherrill directed a 65-yard drive that included his 30-yard pass to Parks and a darting, 17-yard run by Parks through a maze of Trojans.
Parks got his third TD in the third quarter, and West’s defense made several stands to keep things from tightening up. Austin Greenwood, Marco Gupton and Dominique Noble made interceptions. Northwest had a first-and-goal at the 8, but a holding penalty hurt, and Greenwood picked off a pass in the end zone.
“We made too many turnovers (three), we had too many penalties and we didn’t look fluid on offense,” Young said. “But if you’re gonna win a championship, there’s always a time when you’ve got to go on the road and fight hard to win an ugly one. This might be that game.”