Shaw column: West puts on clinic
GRANITE QUARRY ó Thank goodness Brian Hinson has never had his honesty gland removed.
East Rowan’s third-year coach said all the right things after the Mustangs did all the wrong things and got their eggs scrambled Friday night.
“It’s not a hard story to tell,” he said. “We got outplayed. They’re a state championship team and they played at that level. They were much better than we were.”
In simplest terms, the Mustangs found out what the rest of the planet already knows ó that West Rowan is the real deal. And with last night’s 41-7 undressing of East, the Falcons blew a kiss and waved goodbye to the rest of the NPC for the fifth consecutive year. They also shared the crown in 2004.
“To be honest, this was a whole lot easier than I thought it would be,” West quarterback B.J. Sherrill offered. “On film they looked pretty tough. What are they, 7-1 or 8-1? We just came out and hit them in the mouth a little bit. We knew sooner or later they’d wear down.”
That’s exactly how it felt to Chris Demitraszek, East’s 240-pound, two-way lineman. But in a good way.
“Sometimes you need to take a little punch so you can step back and get a different perspective,” he explained. “This might help us bond a little stronger, maybe make us more cohesive. It’s not like the season just stops now that we lost to West Rowan. I mean, no one saw us coming this far, and we’re still going.”
Good point. The Mustangs are 7-2 in your morning paper, with a chance to finish 9-2. They locked up a state playoff berth two weeks ago. Hinson is even West coach Scott Young’s pick for Rowan County Coach of the Year.
So while East may be a team that’s produced Lennon-McCartney music with Ringo talent, there’s nothing wrong with swinging for the fences, is there?
“At the beginning of the game, yeah,” senior linebacker Sam Edmonds said. “We were all confident, thinking we could beat West. But by the time they got the third touchdown, our morale changed. We basically took ourselves out of the game.”
Of course, unbeaten West had something to do with that. The Falcons quickly turned East’s triple-option attack into an afterthought.
“That’s our gameplan for everyone,” said defensive end Chris Smith. “We try to stop the run and make you one-dimensional.”
Hinson, a former All-America lineman for Catawba, had a front-row seat to West’s virtuoso performance.
“They’ve got some men on that team,” he said, waving a hand toward the Falcons’ post-game huddle. “Everybody knows about their D-I players. But the ones that aren’t D-I, the ones you don’t write about every week, they played a heck of a game.”
East QB Jamey Blalock was certainly impressed. He spent the first half orchestrating a three-and-out clinic before completing a fourth-quarter touchdown pass against West backups.
“Their defensive line came off the ball harder and faster than we could handle,” he said. “We couldn’t get any push. But that’s West Rowan ó they’re big and bad and good. And they don’t lose.”
West hasn’t lost since the Bush administration occupied 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue ó and it wasn’t about to lose this one. The Falcons unleashed their shoot-’em-up offense and scored on five of their six first-half possessions, building a 35-0 lead.
“We started out bad,” Blalock acknowledged, “and kept going downhill. It’s a shame because we came in here pretty high. This kind of knocks us back to earth, but we’ll get over it.”
The Mustangs may have had their egos tripped, but not broken. “We came in here with the mindset that we could win the game,” Demitraszek said. “But things happened.”
Things like West’s blue-collar defense punching the clock and getting to work. And Sherrill throwing passes as smooth as whipped butter. And the way K.P. Parks tore up real estate, you could start calling him “The Sodfather.”
Perhaps West DL Mackel Gaither offered the most fitting conclusion.
“They weren’t bad,” he said. “But they were playing the best. That’s all there is to say.”
And until the Falcons notify us they’re ready to abdicate the throne, they’ll remain champions.