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3A Final: Shaw column: West refused to lose

WINSTON-SALEM ó Three exits past the place where dreams usually give out, this one is finally real.
Go ahead and write it in neon, folks: State Champion West Rowan. Whether you believe it or not.
“I’m not in disbelief, but I am shocked,” MVP K.P. Parks insisted Saturday at sun-splashed BB&T Field, moments after after the Falcons slapped previously unbeaten West Craven silly for the 3A title. “Man, that was fun. Look at us ó we’re state champs!”
Allow Parks and his carpe diem teammates their well-deserved close-up. They accomplished something that’s never happened on the west side of Rowan, and they did it, quite profoundly, with Sinatra-like ease.
“We did it our way,” said fullback Jeremy Melchor, one of 22 West seniors who ornamented their careers with a memory for the ages. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We didn’t come here for nothing. We had a goal set our sophomore year ó to make it to this game and win it. Now it all seems like a fairy tale with a happy ending.”
Indeed, there was a surreal aura surrounding the day, a sense that the Falcons and their faithful were witnessing something extraordinary. With history waiting in the wings, they wrapped their arms around the opportunity, squeezed tight and refused to let go.
“Words don’t even describe what I’m feeling,” defensive back Dylan Andrews voiced. “Never in a million years did I think our senior class would be here, talking about winning the state title. Never.”
Ah, never ó the word you’re never supposed to say. But never had West Craven’s filet mignon offense and its Shrine Bowl quarterback been cooked like this ó tougher than a three-dollar steak and beyond recognition.
“We saw pressure today we hadn’t seen in a long time,” said losing coach Clay Jordan. “We just weren’t ourselves.”
That’s chiefly because West Rowan’s defense delivered a dose of tough love and enough confidence-shaking heat to melt WC’s offense ó a turbo-charged unit that was averaging better than 35 points-per-game.
“All week the coaches told us to get pressure on that quarterback,” defensive end Chris Smith said after West Craven’s Brett Mooring unleashed five interceptions. “They said, ‘He’s not good under pressure.’ They knew if we got to him, we’d be OK.”
They were absolutely OK. Mooring passed for 224 yards, but it came with a price. He was sacked twice and given what amounted to a physical education.
“We ran a Navy-stunt where the DE pinches in and the defensive tackle goes around the end,” noted linebacker Josh Poe. “(Mooring) got kinda scared in the pocket. We were always there. I think we got in his head a little bit. We basically wanted to stop the pass, play hard and always run to the ball.”
They also ran with it, amassing 327 yards rushing. Right from the start, this was clearly WR’s day to shine. There was that 81-yard touchdown run by Parks on the first play from scrimmage, a tone-setter if ever there was one.
And the TD-saving strip by DB Austin Greenwood that foiled the Eagles at the goal line with four minutes remaining in the first quarter.
And of course the five picks, including two by ball-magnet DB A.J. Little, the game’s defensive MVP.
“After the defense started getting those turnovers, I was pretty confident we’d pull this thing out,” said Andrews. “We did everything we talked about doing in practice. Then we went out and made it happen.”
And how. Midnight never struck for the Cinderella Falcons, who came within 18 seconds of posting their fifth shutout. Their 2008 season may be history, but written into that history are four-and-a-half months they’ll cherish and savor. Planted along the way are seeds that will yield a life-long harvest.
“I can tell this story for ages,” Dunlap crowed before exiting. “It’s something I dreamed about as a kid. Now it’s real.”
The final lyric was penned by Melchor, who proudly proclaimed, “My kids and grandkids are gonna know I was a state champion. What happened in 48 minutes today will last a lifetime.”
It will. Believe it or not.

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