At West, it’s all about The U, baby

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 9, 2009

By Ronnie Gallagher
RALEIGH ó West Rowan football coach Scott Young attended the state championship press conference for the second straight year on Monday, expecting to be interviewed about everything.
While answering questions about Eastern Alamance, the Falcons’ opponent in the 3A state title game Saturday in Raleigh, he also had to answer other hard-hitting questions.
Like, uh, what does “The U” mean, Coach?
The U?
Young said it’s something star receiver Jon Crucitti came up with.
What exactly is it, and what does it mean?
Does it stand for “Ulla,” as in Mount Ulla, the dateline for West Rowan games? Are the signs bearing “U-2” a tribute for running back K.P. Parks, who wears No. 2?
Crucitti said it was actually a tribute to the Miami Hurricanes, their athletes and that famous swagger.
Falcons have been seen forming the shape with their hands before, during and after games.
Even on WBTV’s “Football Friday Night.”
After the 39-28 win against Tuscola in last week’s Western final, WBTV reporter Brian Stephenson asked Parks about his teammates. Parks put his hands up in front of the camera, showed a wide smile, and announced, “It’s all about the U, baby!” His teammates all did the “U.”
At the bottom of the TV screen was Young’s 7-year-old daughter, Ally …
Doing the “U.”
“Whatever Jon Crucitti and K.P. Parks decide to do, 7-and 8-year-old kids are going to do it,” Young said. “They don’t realize how much young kids in this community look up to them.”
Young said every player has a U in his locker with the letters, “L-L-A” underneath it.
“It’s out of control,” Young sighed.
But he does appreciate how it has somehow brought the team even closer, if that’s possible.
“You don’t sweat the small things,” Young said. “If they do what we ask in the classroom and do what we ask on the field, it’s OK. Have fun with it.”

WHAT RAIN? It was teeth-chattering cold on Tuesday. It was dreary and gloomy and dark. It was miserable.
You’d have never known it at West’s practice.
“You know how cold and rainy practice was?” Young said. “But it was fantastic. There were no dropped balls. No fumbles.”
That’s a good thing. The forecast for Saturday has rain coming in, with perhaps sleet or snow. Stay tuned to the weather report.

THE GAME: West (15-0) and Eastern Alamance (14-1) are scheduled to start their game at 11:30 a.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium, home of the North Carolina State Wolfpack.
It’s West’s second early start. Last year’s 35-7 championship win against West Craven began at noon.

THE PARKING: Don’t make the mistake of parking at the RBC Center, which is directly beside Carter-Finley Stadium. You’ll pay more.
Disney On Ice is at the RBC all weekend. Park there and it’s $10.
Park at Carter-Finley and it’s $5.

EVERYTHING’S DEVINE: South Point coach John Devine was at the press conference. His Red Raiders (13-2) won the Western Final and will face South Johnston (14-1) Saturday for the 3AA title in Chapel Hill at 2:30 p.m.
West Rowan kept Devine from that berth last season in a 35-7 Western final win.
Devine was asked the biggest reason South Point made it this year.
“We were fortunate to get in a bracket other than his,” Devine said, speaking of Young. “That’s the only reason we’re here.”
Devine kept up with West this year.
“We knew all along they’d be difficult to beat,” he said. “To be honest with you, they have to be the pick of the litter with all those kids coming back. But you’ve still gotta do it. That’s the way we were in 2003.”
South Point wore the bulls-eye that season but lived up to the expectations, winning the state title.
West can do it again with Parks running behind what Devine thinks is an impressive line.
“I’d much rather have those hogs up front making that running back look good,” he said. “When you have a combination of both and they’re both talented with the effort and energy that they have up there in Rowan County, then you’ve got something special.”

MORE K.P.: Albemarle coach Baxter Morris has never seen Parks in person, but he was an assistant when T.A. McLendon came through. McLendon holds about the only record Parks won’t get: career TDs.
“T.A. was the best high school runner I’ve ever seen,” said Morris, whose Bulldogs takes on Southwest Onslow in a battle of 15-0 teams for the 1AA title in Winston-Salem on Saturday at 4 p.m. “That kid was certainly a special football player, as is Parks. T.A. came through when we had a very productive offense.”
Morris said Albemarle is one of only two teams in the nation that scored over 800 points in a season. The Bulldogs did it twice.

NORTH ROWAN: Morris was asked about North Rowan, which came down from 2A to the 1A Yadkin Valley Conference this season. The Cavaliers and Thomasville were the only teams to hold the Bulldogs’ offense down.
Thomasville lost 14-13. North lost 21-6. Thomasville was expected to give Albemarle a tough game.
Tasker Fleming’s team wasn’t.
“North Rowan had four of the best down defensive linemen we saw all year,” Morris said. “It was one of those games we grossly underestimated how good they were. You don’t figure that out until during the game and you’re already up to your ears in alligators. We had a difficult time with them. We were totally out of sync. They did a good job defending us.”

DON’T I KNOW YOU? Wallace-Rose Hill is in the 1A final against Mount Airy, scheduled for a noon kickoff in Winston-Salem.
The Duplin County superintendent came to support his high school.
His name?
Wiley Doby, the former superintendent for Rowan County schools.