3A Championship Notebook
By Ronnie Gallagher
The 3A Championship notebook …Hey, Arkansas, get ready for Chris Smith.
The defensive lineman and Razorback commitment proved during West Rowan’s 28-21 victory against Eastern Alamance on Saturday why Bobby Petrino wants him in Fayetteville next season.
Smith, who will play in next week’s Shrine Bowl, showed his muscle all day, whipping past the Eagles’ offensive line to either sack all-world quarterback Lamar Ivey or knock down his passes.
But it was the last series of the afternoon that solidified Smith’s defensive player of the game award.
“We had a blitz and they had to pick one of them up,” linebacker Josh Poe said. “That left (Smith) free.”
As the final minute ticked off, and Eastern out of timeouts, Smith sacked the dangerous Ivey on second down back to the 14-yard-line, bringing up a third-and-34. Smith then ran Ivey down on third down.
“Chris did it all day,” defensive coordinator David Hunt said. “We got great pressure all day from the outside. They were trying to double-team Eli (Goodson) and helping out on Mackel (Gaither). So Chris and Emmanuel Gbunblee got the job done up front.”
What did Smith have to say about it all?
“I’m just speechless right now,” he said, which may be a first.
TALK NOW: Earlier in the season, Gaither made some comments to the Post about how good the Falcons were. Coach Scott Young had to tell him to low-key it a little bit when talking to the media.
But with the win secured and his high school career over, you realize he was speaking the truth all along.
“We’re the best, baby,” Gaither announced.
In fact, several Falcons were ready to talk about the school’s second straight state title.
“I could say I can’t believe it but I knew we were going to do it again,” Poe said.
Defensive back Trey Mashore added, “We’ve been preaching back-to-back and perfect season all year long. That’s what we came out here and did.
“A dream come true.”
“It’s all about the U, baby!” crowed Gaither.
AH, THE U: The U, which is a slogan the team adopted recently in honor of the swagger by the University of Miami, has been put on T-shirts that are popping up around the West area, sporting the words “Mt. Ulla University.”
WHAT A DECADE: The football team has finally matched the basketball and softball teams.
Both of those sports had back-to-back titles in 2002-03.
FULFILLING: They stood in the background of it all, assistant coaches who see themselves as simply part of a great thing.
But Butch Browning and Lee Linville know where they came from. As Linville put it, “Timing is everything.”
Both are former head coaches but it didn’t pan out at Central Davidson for Browning or at North Iredell for Linville.
Both found their niche in Mount Ulla. And now, they have to find another finger to showcase their second state championship ring.”After 25, 30 years you think you’ll never, ever get to one,” Browning said of a state title game. “And then, to get two in a row and win both of them? That’s pretty special. It’s the kids who do it so I’m proud of them.”
Linville was close to being a Davie County assistant this year. The former War Eagle athlete wanted to be closer to his family.
“It didn’t work out,” Linville said, adding with a smile, “It worked out better.”
UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE DAY: In the postgame press conference, receiver Jon Crucitti was asked about K.P. Parks.
“He’s a pretty good running back,” Crucitti said, drawing laughter.
MORE CRUCITTI: While two of West’s Three Amigos, Parks (Virginia) and Smith (Arkansas) have committed, Crucitti, a football and baseball star, hasn’t decided.
“Every coach who has called me lately, I told them I just want to focus on getting this over with,” Crucitti said. “Hopefully, with a second ring, the recruiting will pick up.”
“I still love Army,” he said. “Stanford is still up there and it’s where I’d really like to visit. I’m hoping interest will pick up and I can make a decision.”
The championship’s offensive player of the game looked over at Parks and Smith.
“Their season’s not over,” he said of the two Shrine Bowlers. “I’m going to hit the court.”
Crucitti will join Mike Gurley’s basketball team immediately.
MOVE OVER HILLARY: Tight end Patrick Hampton is quickly moving up the ladder of success in his family.
“At the supper table the other night, they mentioned something about Hillary being the most successful Hampton to come through when she won two straight championships (in softball),” he said.
Not anymore, in Patrick’s opinion.
“We joke all the time about our accomplishments,” he said. “It’s a family rivalry.”
And don’t forget brother Ben, a current assistant at Carson, who was once a star running back for Young.
“The bets only come when we play the Cougs of Carson,” Patrick said. “He roots me on. Most of the time, he’s pulling for me.”-
GAME REPLY: Just like last season, West’s victory will be shown to Time Warner digital subscribers at video on demand, channel 1234.