2008 All-County Football: Coach of the Year: West Rowan's Scott Young
By Bret Strelow
Scott Young can still recall the decade-old conversation he had with several assistant coaches in the gravel lot behind West Rowan’s gym.
A frustrated Young sat in the bed of a pickup truck parked beneath the branches of a shade tree near the locker room entrance. He sipped lemonade while discussing his bitter first season as West’s head coach.
“That first year was just awful,” Young said. “We were talking about how bad it was, talking about how during the season we were almost ready for it to be over because we knew we had a good young group.
“We knew the future would be bright, and we just knew if the kids bought in we could turn it around.”
Finding a break in the dark clouds hovering over West’s football program was no easy chore, but Young’s reclamation project culminated with a victory in the 3A state championship game 19 days ago.
Young has been named Rowan County Coach of the Year, and he is one of seven candidates for The Associated Press’ statewide award. The winner will be announced this afternoon.
David Hunt, who worked alongside Young at Davie County, became a member of West’s coaching staff prior to Young’s second season in basketball-crazy Mount Ulla. The football team went from 3-8 in 1998 to 8-3 a year later.
“That’s where the foundation was laid by saying football was important,” Hunt said. “For a lack of a better way of saying it, (Young) had to weed out the bad attitudes. By the time I got there, we weren’t real good, but you had a group of kids who wanted to be good.
“From that point on, we’ve had a winning season every year, and some seasons have been better than others. What happened this year is the end product of a lot of years of hard work, and he’s done most of it.”
West had compiled a 147-240 record without claiming a conference title and won just two playoff games in its history when the school hired Young in 1998.It had one seven-win season in the 30 years prior to his arrival, and the breakthrough in 1999 was the first of nine times he’s directed at least seven victories.
Young has gone 103-37 in 11 seasons with six conference championships, including five straight NPC titles.
“Everybody said we couldn’t win,” Young said. “They had never been winners, were never going to be winners and it didn’t matter what kind of work we were doing. I was just happy the kids bought in and did something about it.
“At 26 years of age, you’re pretty young and stupid. You’ve got that feeling you’re going to change it regardless.”
Young still credits a basketball star with sparking West’s turnaround.
Scooter Sherrill, who was receiving national attention in 1999, decided to give football a second try before his senior season at West.
He caught a touchdown pass in a 53-0 victory against Salisbury to open the season and made five receptions for 146 yards in a 49-12 win against South Rowan. He had two TD grabs against the Raiders.
Sherrill helped the Falcons jump out to a 5-0 start, and he appeared in two more games.
“It made it OK for those basketball-only athletes to come play football,” Young said.
West won an SPC title in 2000, and its string of NPC dominance began in 2004. Despite all that success, the Falcons had never advanced beyond the third round of the playoffs before this year.
B.J. Sherrill shared the quarterback duties with Jon Crucitti in the first two games, but a 35-21 loss to Davie County dropped West to 1-1. Hunt called the decision to make Sherrill the full-time QB and use Crucitti at a “slash” position the key to the Falcons’ season.
Touchdowns on two trick plays, including a reverse pass from Crucitti to Brantley Horton, enabled West to overcome a 16-7 second-half deficit in a third-round win against Carver. The Falcons followed with 35-7 victories against run-oriented South Point and pass-happy West Craven.”It was the great character of the coaches,” defensive lineman Kenderic Dunlap said. “They show us great character, so it gives us great character.”
The continuity of the coaching staff has played a vital role. Young said he’s lost only four paid-position coaches in his time at West.
Tim Dixon and Ralph Ellis have basically been around since Day One.
Jeff Chapman has offered assistance for approximately a decade. Ed Bowles and Butch Browning have put in more than five years at West. Joe Nixon joined the staff in 2004.
“It lessens the workload,” Young said. “Instead of coaching coaches, we can spend all our time coaching kids.”
Nixon enjoyed the most memorable championship Saturday. He embraced Young as the final seconds ticked away and rushed home to marry West alum Hillary Hampton at Catawba College’s Omwake-Dearborn Chapel.
Reverend Mack Jarvis officiated the ceremony and made mention of West’s victory earlier in the day. The reference drew applause from a congregation that included Young.
“It’s really a stable staff that has worked quite well for a long period of time,” Hunt said. “That’s a tribute to him. As much as anything, it’s not Xs and Os. He does a real good job handling his people, and that means not only players, but his staff.
“I think you have to include the way he’s able to keep his staff working together and on the same page as one of the big reasons for his success.”
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