Friday Night Hero: West Rowan’s Austin Greenwood
By Ronnie Gallagher
MOUNT ULLA ó Tim Dixon watched the play unfold and admitted he wasn’t thinking about a West Rowan victory.
The Falcons were winning 10-7 on Monday night as the final seconds of regulation ticked off the clock, but Lake Norman was snapping the ball on a third-and-goal from the West 1-yard line.
“I’m thinking it’s over,” said Dixon, a West assistant who works with the defensive backs. “I usually have pretty good faith, but I felt they could push it in on that deal.”
Lake Norman put the ball in the hands of Eric Manser. West head coach Scott Young explained what he saw:
“They had two lead blockers for him. They had our defensive front and linebacker guys blocked. It could have been a touchdown.”
That’s right, it could have been.
But it wasn’t because of Austin Greenwood.
The free safety sniffed out the play and made the initial hit, knocking Manser to the ground for a 2-yard loss. The Wildcats settled for a field goal to force overtime, but West won 23-17 in a very tense, second overtime period.
“Austin Greenwood perhaps saved the game for us,” Young said.
Greenwood, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior, has a way of saving the day for West.
Last year, when star back K.P. Parks sat out a first-round playoff game, Greenwood produced a 145-yard rushing game.
“Austin can play a lot of positions,” Dixon said. “He’s very athletic.”
Thankfully for West, Greenwood was on defense for the biggest play of the season.
“I just saw everything crashing in toward the middle,” he said. “I saw a hole opening up on the outside. I cheated up a lot. I knew it was a run up the middle because they had that big No. 44 (Dirqual Ellis) in.”
Greenwood saw Manser coming at him.
“I was like, ‘All right, this is it,’ ” Greenwood said.
That was it for Manser, who was pounded to the ground.
“We hit, and he went straight down,” Greenwood said with a smile.
Dixon said Greenwood was just doing his job.
“Austin was running the alley like a good free safety should,” Dixon said. “He fired up there and got a good lick on him. He has been making big plays all year.”
Greenwood expected he’d have to make some type of impact in the game.
“The coaches told us the offenses would have trouble because both defenses are pretty good,” he said.
Greenwood also made his fourth interception of the year when a pass bounced off a Lake Norman receiver.
“It was a fun game,” he said.
Said Young, “Overall, he was flying around making tackles. He has had a great senior year. He has played himself into being eligible for some postseason awards.”
Dixon said Greenwood is a quiet kid who made a very loud hit when it counted the most.
“I call him the ‘Silent Assassin,’ ” Dixon said.
Greenwood certainly buried Lake Norman’s chances at an upset of the only undefeated team left in the NPC.
“Everybody’s coming up to me talking about being a game-saver,” Greenwood said the following day.
No one was singing his praises more than his head coach.
“Austin Greenwood,” Young announced, “was a true hero.”