Friday Night Hero: West Rowan’s Nate Dulin
By Ronnie Gallagher
West Rowan football coach Scott Young knew linebacker Nate Dulin had a good showing in a 35-7 win against West Craven in the 3A state championship game last Saturday afternoon.
Then, Young watched the replay of the game on Time Warner Cable. He quickly changed his tune and began singing the praises of his senior star.
“He had a phenomenal game,” Young said. “After watching it on TV, Nate could have easily been our MVP on defense, maybe the MVP for the whole game.”
Dulin didn’t have one of West’s five interceptions. He didn’t get the fumble recovery. But he did just about everything else. Anyone paying attention to the game recognized No. 9.
“My role was to keep the No. 3 receiver from going inside,” Dulin said, as businesslike in his interview as he was on BB&T Field in Winston-Salem. “They had a big reputation but it didn’t intimidate us. It tested our DBs and our athleticism.”
Especially Dulin’s. Known for big hits, he was more of a defensive back in this game. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t crushing some heads. He remembers one play in particular. West Craven running back Mycah Gaylord went across the middle.
“I wanted to lay a good lick on him,” Dulin smiled.
The oohs and aahs from the crowd let him know he accomplished his goal.”
Dulin probably fooled West Craven as much as every other opponent. At 5-foot-8, he doesn’t look the part of a dominant player.
“Since I’m shorter than others, I try to use it to my advantage,” Dulin explained. “I try to stay low and shed blocks and get good leverage on people.”
The play on Gaylord was a good one but Young raved about his entire performance.
“There were two or three plays by Nate that were jaw-dropping,” Young said.
The coach remembers a screen pass where Dulin fought off the block and made a tackle for a one-yard gain. He also remembers one of those patented Dulin hits on a draw play that changed how West Craven called its plays.
“It was a very physical hit,” Young said. “From that point on, they tried to run it only one more time.”
“Nate Dulin was everywhere,” assistant Tim Dixon exclaimed.
It’s that physical play that will get Dulin on the field as a college player, despite his size, Young predicted.
“It will be at a smaller level, because he’s 5-foot-8,” Young said. “He is what he is. But he’s a physical player with good speed. And he’ll pop you.”
When the horn sounded and the championship had been secured, Dulin was as happy as any Falcon. He even told the juniors to stick together, play together and have confidence in the team.
“I told them, ‘You can do it again,’ ” he said.
But Dulin was also a little sad. His high school career was over.
“I miss it right now,” he said. “I wish we had a game. I wish we had practice.”
Dulin will live to play again. CIAA schools, as well as those in Division III, are courting him.
But he’ll never forget how he played a key role in the biggest day in West Rowan football history.
“I can tell my kids I was a state champion,” Dulin said.
There were 15 wins this season for West Rowan, meaning the school had 15 Friday Night Hero features in the Post. Dulin could have been the hero on any one of those nights.
But he saved his best for last ó and became a Saturday Afternoon Hero.
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