3A Championship: Shaw column: Twice upon a time
Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 12, 2009
RALEIGH ó Twice-upon-a-time? U-betcha.
Never has history-making sounded, smelled and felt as sweet as it did Saturday afternoon at Carter-Finley Stadium, where West Rowan made it a matching set of state championships.
“This right here,” K.P. Parks said after West marched off with its second straight 3A title, “is the best way to end your senior year ó with another ring. We were defending champs. We had the bull’s eye on our chests all season. But every shot someone took at us, we took one back. We counter-attacked.”
It’s reward, once again, was first prize. Never mind that a 28-21 victory over Eastern Alamance (14-2) was more deliverance than domination, more spit than shine. It may not have been the story Parks and the Falcons were hoping to tell, but it ends the same way.
“What we accomplished,” said DL wrecking ball Eli Goodson, “is what had to be done. We made history today, but we had to go back to basics to do it. That’s what was working.”
It was working ó at least, until it wasn’t. West got off to a jackrabbit start, then coughed up a 20-0 second-quarter lead and found itself a point down as the final period unfolded.
“They made it a tougher game than we wanted it to be,” insisted quarterback B.J. Sherrill, the maestro of West’s 16-0 symphony. “This other team, they were very fast and very strong. They put us in a difficult spot. But we’re winners, and winners always find ways to win.”
This group wasn’t sniffing the crown until Parks launched his 5-foot-7 body into the end zone on a 7-yard touchdown sweep around right end early in the fourth quarter, erasing a rare West deficit.
“K.P.’s an absolutely incredible back,” teammate Jon Crucitti said after Parks scored all four West TD’s and rushed for a season-low 154 yards. “They did a great job containing him, but he was still able to do what he does best, and that’s tote the rock.”
There were several thousand believers ó and a million butterflies ó in the West grandstands as Eastern began its final charge up the postseason hill. A couple of face-mask penalties against West packaged with some straight-ahead runs by Shrine Bowl athlete Lamar Ivey gave the Eagles a peaceful, easy feeling at the West 34-yard line.
“That quarterback was hard to contain because he’s got really good wheels,” defensive lineman Emmanuel Gbumblee explained after West stacked up nine QB sacks. “He could run if he got loose. So it was important to get pressure and hit him. We just came out and hit everybody. I don’t think he’s been hit like that before.”
In the end, it was winning coach Scott Young who wore the wizard’s cap. His decision to show the Falcons a motivational movie before kickoff produced magical results.
“Yeah, we watched this video on the way down here,” defensive back Trey Mashore reported. “It said to always play like it’s your very last play. With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, that was the moment they were talking about right there. That was the time to make something happen.”
And to paraphrase legendary rock poet Jim Morrison, the time to hesitate was through. On fourth-and-long with 6:36 remaining, Ivey’s downfield spiral deflected off Quan Cowan’s right hand and landed safely in Mashore’s midsection, all but securing a West victory.
“You know,” Crucitti said between giving and receiving congratulatory hugs near midfield, “it says a lot about our team to give up a 20-0 lead and not give up the game. We fought these guys. We fought back and found a way.”
Senior Chris Smith and his DL partners-in-crime cemented the outcome with an 11-yard sack, a major-league rejection and a forced incompletion in the final minute.
“We call that T & E ó technique and effort,” Smith said after closing his West career with another smashing performance. “I’ve been saying that all season. That’s what you’ve gotta have to win.”
You also need a coach like Young, who worked his craft like a chessmaster. And a staff that includes defensive guru David Hunt, a scheming brainiac in DL coach Steven Williams and an unmatched offensive line know-it-all in Joe Nixon.
But mostly you need a kid like Parks, who shared smiles that could illuminate Times Square and re-wrote the record book. Neither will be forgotten in these parts.
“I don’t care about all the touchdowns and all the yards and everything else,” Parks said. “I only care about one stat ó 28-21. I’ll take them 2 or 3 yards at a time, as long as I get that one, that last one.”
Or perhaps, get it twice?