2009 Football: West Rowan preview
By Ronnie Gallagher
MOUNT ULLA ó Now what?
That’s the question always asked a team coming off a state championship. And that’s what West Rowan coach Scott Young has been hearing since beating West Craven for the 3A title on Dec. 15.
If you’re expecting any major changes in Mount Ulla, forget it. The goals remain the same ó the first being winning the North Piedmont Conference. If the Falcons accomplish that feat ó and they’re overwhelming favorites to do it ó it will be the school’s sixth straight league crown.
“We just need to take it one game at a time,” said Young, who doesn’t want to get ahead of himself.
Some things never change at West, which means All-American running back K.P. Parks will be carrying the ball.
“What can you say about him that hasn’t already been said?” Young laughed. You’re running out of stories and angles to write about K.P.”
Parks enters the season with 7,121 career yards and 99 touchdowns. He has 39 100-yard games. Young also provides some information that’s even scarier to West’s foes.
“He’s bigger, faster and stronger,” Young said. “We’re expecting a big, big year.”
Backing up Parks is sophomore Dinkin Miller, the jayvees’ top running back last season. He was a 1,000-yard rusher for a 6-4 team.
” He doesn’t realize how important that role is,” Young said. “He needs to pick it up so K.P.’s carries are limited in practice.”
Also returning in the backfield are quarterbacks B.J. Sherrill, only a junior, and Jon Crucitti, a senior.
Sherrill (6-1, 215) was the offensive MVP of the state championship team.
“B.J. really grew into himself early,” Young said. “He played through turf toe in the playoffs. The beauty of it all is he’s got big-game experience.”
Crucitti could step in at quarterback, but he can play everywhere.
“He’s Mr. Versatility,” Young said.
Young said Crucitti, who missed a lot of preseason practice due to the local Legion team’s run to the World Series, will throw and catch the football. He will return kicks.
And he is an All-State punter.
“We’re not as good with him gone, obviously,” Young said.
Also at quarterback is Tyler Mullis, last year’s jayvee quarterback.
Last year’s backup fullback Coleman Phifer is ready to move in, with Chandler Jones, a first-year player, in the mix.
“They just have to get better and work on quickness,” Young said.
Young is excited about his tight ends, both 6-3. Patrick Hampton, a junior, and Louis Kraft, a sophomore, are big targets.
“Patrick’s looked great, he’s one of our top blockers,” Young said. “He gets it done. And Louis has grown two inches.”
West didn’t pass much to the the tight end last season but Young said, “We’re going to make more of an effort to do so.”
Crucitti leads a crop of receivers that includes KaJuan Phillips, Jarvis Morgan, Odell McBride, Jamarian Mabry, Ethan Wansley, Isiah Cutherbertson, Alterick Abraham and Jalen Morrow.
Daishion Barger, a transfer from East Rowan, has shown glimpses of brilliance, but injuries are slowing him down.
Timmy Pangburn goes from tackle to center. The 6-1, 275-pound three-year starter and all-county and all-conference player is a preseason all-state selection.
“Moving him to center will help him out on the next level,” Young said. “Timmy’s the kind of player that you tell him what to do and he’ll get it done.”
Junior Davon Quarles returns at guard.
“He gets off the ball quicker than any lineman we have,” Young said. “He really knows how to attack.”
Charles Holloway is expected to join the starters and Young says, “He can be a good player if he matures.”
Young calls 315-pound Rodney Cline one of the most improved players.
“Rodney could’ve been a starter at a lot of schools last year,” Young said. “He has tremendous size. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a college scholarship.”
Reserves include Xavier Still, a 390-pounder, Armando Trujillo and Nolan Rich.
A lack of depth is facing this group.
“That troubles me,” Young said. “We’ve got some big holes to fill and young guys are stepping up. Before it’s all said and done, we’ll be OK on offense.”
Crucitti will punt and Young is trying Michael Livengood at kicker.
Defense is where the strength is. Every one of his front guys could end up on a college roster.
Chris Smith, a 6-2, 230-pounder has committed to Arkansas. He teams with Eli Goodson, Emmanuel Gbunblee and Mackel Gaither.
“All of our front four guys are cross-trained to play more than one position because of depth,” Young said.
As far as Smith, he is a quarterback hunter.
“Chris is living up to his reputation,” Young said of his star who had 28 sacks last season. “He’s just a happy kid.”
Goodson has looked as good as anyone so far.
“Eli is one of the best linemen around,” Young said of his all-county and all-conference player.”
Gbunblee is continuing to please his coach.
“He turned himself into a great football player,” Young said. “He had a mind-blowing state championship game.
“The light had been coming on but by the end of the year, he was playing as well as anyone. It has carried over to this year.”
Gaither can play either noseguard or defensive tackle. “He has matured into a good football player,” Young said.
Also in the mix are Maurice Warren, Timmy Jancic, Justin Teeter, Tyler Anglin and Leon Dulin.
“We’re very high on Warren because of his athletic ability,” Young said of the sophomore.
Josh Poe a 6-2, 230-pound senior, leads the linebackers.
“He’s gotta be a leader,” Young said. “His game speed has picked up.”
Maxx Gore, Christian Hedrick and Troy Culbertson will fight for the other spots.
The secondary returns two starters in Dominique Noble and Trey Mashore.
“Dominique is more physical and Trey’s more speed,” Young said. “They both have big-game experience.”
Eric Cowan, Quan Cowan, Akeem Minter, Will Holloway and Kendall Hosch will all see time on defense.
So will Desmond Shaver, Ershawn Wilder, John Dunlap, Kelly Palmer, Chris Neal and Corey McVay.
Young said defensive coordinator David Hunt has three or four holes to fill and hopefully, the returnees will make up for the dropoff.
“They have got to carry us,” he said. “No. 2, is the development of our offensive line.”
He also worries a little about the air attack.
“Some days, our passing game looks great and others it doesn’t,” he said. “We need more consistency there. I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to run it.”
An All-American named Parks should see to that.
Follow the Falcons
Aug. 21 at Central Cabarrus
Aug. 28 NW Cabarrus
Sept. 4 Davie County
Sept. 11 at Salisbury
Sept. 18 at Mooresville*
Sept. 25 South Rowan*
Oct. 2 at West Iredell*
Oct. 9 Carson*
Oct. 16 Statesville*
Oct. 23 at East Rowan*
Oct. 30 Open
Nov. 6 at North Iredell*
Game time: 7:30 p.m.
*3A North Piedmont