Prep football notebook: Week 16
From staff reports
The prep football notebook …
West discovered freshman kicker Bertin Suarez by accident. Head coach Scott Young gives all the credit to assistant Durwood Bynum.
Bynum had several soccer players experimenting with kicks, and the balls exploding off the foot of Suarez sounded different from the others.
Young had heard that sort of boom before, from standout kickers such as Ben Erdman, who now punts for Coastal Carolina. Soon Suarez was getting his shot with the football Falcons.
Suarez booted his first career PAT in the fourth quarter of a 39-36 win against Davie in West’s third game and has been the regular kicker since.
Suarez, snapper Timmy Pangburn and holder Jon Crucitti are coached by Bynum and snaps expert Lee Linville and have accounted for 70 points with 61 PATs and three field goals.
West averages six TDs per game, and Suarez has made certain those TDs have been worth seven points each, not six.
“He’s become a very big part of our football team, but I can’t take any credit for his success,” Young said. “I pride myself on being able to coach kids up, but as far as kickers and punters the only thing I can do is tell them to kick it hard. We send the kickers to camps to get better.”
Suarez’s contributions have grown steadily, as he’s added kickoff subtleties to his repertoire. He’s made strides with directional kicks, sky kicks and squib kicks.
Young said his communication with Suarez is somewhat limited, but they understand each other.
“Yeah, he knows when I’m mad at him,” Young said.
HURRY-UP: The final minutes of the first half were important in West Rowan’s 38-29 win against Tuscola in a 3A semifinal, and Suarez was a key part of it.
West had taken a 14-0 lead, but Tuscola got back into the game suddenly when quarterback Tyler Brosius connected on back-to-back deep pass plays, the latter for a TD, with 2:35 left in the first half.
“It’s 14-0 and probably it shoulda been 21-0, and we’re feeling pretty good, but then we gave up that quick TD and it took all the momentum out of Falcon Stadium,” Young said.
Quarterback B.J. Sherrill directed a drive as the clock ticked down to end the half, and Falcons got out of bounds when prudent.
“We showed good poise, good clock management and good judgment,” Young said.
Just when it appeared West still might be stopped outside of Suarez’s field-goal range, K.P. Parks broke a 21-yard run to the 5, and West called timeout with 1.4 seconds left to give Suarez a shot at a field goal.
When West lined up for the field goal, Tuscola called timeout to ice Suarez, but he went back out and made a 22-yarder for a 17-7 lead.
“I don’t think you can ice Suarez because he doesn’t always know what’s going on,” Young joked. “That was a huge kick he made. Back to a two-score game and turned momentum back our way. I looked at Bertin and told him, ‘Good job,’ and he smiled back.”
RELOADING: While it will be virtually impossible for West to be as good in 2010 as it’s been this season when the Falcons have outscored foes 41-10 on an average night, it’s not like the program will suddenly drop off the map.
West lost 11 starters from its 2008 state champions but successfully reloaded.
It will lose 11 off this team as well, but that also means 11 will return.
Players whom the Falcons can build around next season include Sherrill, safety Trey Mashore, corners Eric Cowan and Domonique Noble, tight end Patrick Hampton, defensive end Emmanuel Gbunblee, drop end Kendall Hosch and O-line starters Charles Holloway, Davon Quarles and Armando Trujillo.
As usual, West is also starting to work talented younger players into the mix such as sophomore linebacker Christian Hedrick and sophomore defensive lineman Maurice Warren.
DEFENSE: West has allowed 155 points in 15 games and has held 13 opponents to 15 or fewer, with four shutouts.
Warren had one of West’s two sacks on Friday, with Gbunblee registering the other. Warren now has nine sacks, fourth on the team.
Shrine Bowler Chris Smith leads with 12 sacks, Mackel Gaither and Gbunblee have 10 each, and nose Eli Goodson has eight.
Goodson also has four forced fumbles and a team-high 34 tackles for loss, with one coming on Friday. Linebacker Josh Poe has 23 TFLs. Smith (21) and Gaither (20) are next.
Smith has been credited with 82 QB hurries ó better than five per game ó and has batted down seven passes.
Noble has sparked the secondary with 14 pass breakups and four picks.
B.J: Parks has scored all nine West TDs the past two weeks, which means Sherrill hasn’t tossed any TD passes, but the junior QB continues to put up solid numbers.
He had 190 passing yards on Friday, airing it out in the first half like he’s rarely been asked to do, and lifting his season total to 2,139.
He has 3,786 passing yards for his career and has surpassed 4,000 yards of total offense.
Sherrill is only the 11th Rowan player to surpass 4,000 and the fourth Falcon.
Others are Parks, Wade Moore and Timmy Hogue, the school’s all-time passing leader.
RECORDS: Crucitti broke two Rowan County season records last week (75 catches, 1,241 receiving yards), and he’s also West’s record holder for career receiving yardage (1,827) and receptions (108).
Lamont Savage, who played for West in 2004-05, previously held the school marks for receptions and receiving yards.
John Knox’s 47-yard completion to tight end Riley Gallagher pushed Salisbury to the Newton-Conover 19 on the first possession of the second half, but the Hornets fumbled on the next play.
Gallagher finished the season with 408 yards on 14 catches, including nine touchdowns. He didn’t have more than one TD in a single game, and he ended a game with more than one reception on only two occasions.
Gallagher’s only catch accounted for a touchdown in seven different games.
STOUT HEART IN DEFEAT: Salisbury trailed 3-0 when it faced a fourth-and-5 from the Newton-Conover 15 early in the second quarter. A 32-yard field goal by David Simons tied the game, but the Red Devils were flagged for roughing the snapper.
With an opportunity to possess a first-and-goal from the 7 in a low-scoring affair, Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan took his team’s first points off the board.
The decision went against what Pinyan had learned working alongside coaching legend Pete Stout.
“I’m hoping Coach Stout didn’t see that,” Pinyan said with a laugh. “The old adage is you don’t take points off. It sent a message to David Simons, if we don’t get it, we still know you’ll punch it through there.”
That’s how it played out.
The Hornets lost 5 yards on first down and went backward another yard on second down. A third-down pass fell incomplete, and Simons tied the game with a 30-yard field goal.
EXPANDED ROLES: Kiontae Rankin, a 6-foot-4, 390-pound force on the defensive line, also played on the offensive line against the Red Devils.
Dejoun Jones, a sophomore running back, started at cornerback and didn’t register any carries out of the offensive backfield. Dominique Phillips had moved from safety to corner following an injury to Joseph Figueroa, and Phillips returned to safety against Newton-Conover.
SIMILAR NUMBERS: Senior Ike Whitaker finishes with 1,570 career yards, while junior Romar Morris has rushed for 1,568.
Morris was primarily a receiver as a sophomore.Morris had 1,330 yards this season, a total that ranks third in school history.
Leonard Atkins (1,419 yards in 1975) still holds the school record and produced those numbers in just 10 games. The Hornets were 8-1-1 but didn’t make the playoffs that season.
Mike London and Bret Strelow contributed to the notebook.