Friday Night Hero: West’s Coleman Phifer
By Ronnie Gallagher
MOUNT ULLA ó Usually, Coleman Phifer’s biggest thrill on a Friday night is looking up from the ground after making a block and watching K.P. Parks ramble downfield for a touchdown.
Blocking for a living doesn’t sound all that exciting but it is when you’re the fullback for the West Rowan Falcons.
Phifer, a senior, gets to push defenders out of the way for Parks one more time on Saturday when West (15-0) takes on Eastern Alamance (14-1) in the 3A state championship game at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh at 11:30 a.m.
To get there, the Falcons had to beat Tuscola 39-28 in the Western final. And Phifer was a key figure.
Not as a blocker, but as a pass receiver.
“The best feeling in the world,” Phifer said of his second and third catches of the season.
They were important, coach Scott Young said, because each moved the chains.
“One was an extremely big first down,” he said.
No one is happier than Young at Phifer’s improvement from August to December.
“We were concerned if he could get the job done,” Young said. “He’s gotten better through the year. And here we are playing in the last week of the season with him as the starting fullback.”
What turned it around?
“Coleman has played with better effort,” Young said. “He’s always been a smart kid. He has always known what to do. He just wasn’t doing it at full speed early on. Our game speed has improved.”
Perhaps the new Phifer came about because of maturity and being a part of something special.
“West Rowan football is like no other,” he said. “I’m playing for an undefeated team and playing with one of the best running backs in the history of North Carolina.”
Phifer saw limited time in the playoffs as a junior because of a concussion. As a senior, he saw chances of West running the table for a second straight season and knew leadership was needed.
“We thought we had to come together more as a team,” he said. “Last year’s team, everybody connected.”
Phifer knows his role isn’t as a receiver or a runner. His highest number of carries in a game is five, but he does have three touchdown runs to his credit. His only other reception besides the two Friday came on Senior Night against Statesville.
“My role is the same as it’s been the last 15 weeks and for the past two years ó to help K.P.,” Phifer said. “I try to give him a lead block and try to get him a hole to run through.”
Young added, “In an I-formation base offense, the fullback is not real prestigious. He’s sometimes referred to as a glorified guard. I’m very proud of him. He has been in the program for four years. Like a lot of our players, he was on jayvee for two years and was a backup to Jeremy Melchor last year. As a senior, we needed him to step up. He’s done that.”
Phifer loves to block. In fact, he brought up one play in particular.
“In the first round against Freedom, me and Jon (Crucitti) had a gap play where he cracked down and I hit the end guy out,” Phifer recalled. “There was a big ol’ hole for K.P. to run through. It was awesome.”
When Parks scores in a game, Phifer plays his second role, one that he has played 55 times this season.
“I try to catch up and get down there to help him celebrate,” Phifer said with a laugh.