Co-Coaches of the Year: Brian Hinson, Scott Young
By Bret Strelow
In 2008, East Rowan won the same number of games ó one ó that West Rowan lost.
The manner in which each team improved record-wise made East’s Brian Hinson and West’s Scott Young worthy choices as co-coaches of the year in Rowan County.
East went from 1-10 to 9-4, and West followed a 15-1 run to the 3A state championship with a 16-0 season that concluded with another title.
“As far as playing with a bulls-eye on their back, I don’t know if it was their back or their chest, because they met it head on,” Hinson said. “It’s that swagger they got, expecting to win, and it starts at the top and trickles down.”
Few people expected East to win very often in 2009, and confidence began to build with each narrow victory.
The Mustangs started 7-1, finished third in the NPC and reached the second round of the playoffs thanks to an overtime win against South Brunswick.
“I think they did a whole lot with less,” said Young, who has received at least a share of the award five straight years and is a seven-time winner in his career. “To me that speaks to what you do as a coaching job. He modified his offense to a ball-control, 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offense, and that’s what he needed to do to be successful.”
East returned only seven starters from a team that closed last season by dropping its final nine games. Hinson predicted this year’s team would be better, even if the won-loss record didn’t reflect improvement.
Quietly, he believed the Mustangs would overachieve if they went 6-5 during the regular season.
A 7-0 victory against North Rowan was the first of two early shutouts ó East also blanked Concord 30-0. Five of the Mustangs’ first seven wins were by seven points or less.
“Their character, you can either back down from a challenge or step up to it and accept it head on,” Hinson said. “I think our kids did that.
“You have to learn how to win. Once they found a way to win, they gained some confidence through it, it snowballed and we expected to find ways to win.”
East, which won 69 percent of its games despite allowing five more points than it scored, took a 7-1 overall record and 3-0 league mark into its matchup with West Rowan on Oct. 23.
The Falcons, who had opened the NPC season by shutting out South Rowan, remained in first place with a 41-7 rout of East.
The result gave West its 33rd consecutive win against county foes, and it wrapped up a sixth straight NPC title two weeks later. A 28-21 victory against Eastern Alamance in the 3A final pushed the Falcons’ overall winning streak to 30 games.
West rolled to 35-7 victories in the final two rounds of the 2008 playoffs, but this postseason provided three difficult tests. The Falcons beat Asheville 28-14, held off Tuscola 38-29 and trailed heading to the fourth quarter against Eastern Alamance.
“This one was harder, and this one was so much more fulfilling,” Young said. “Last year in the playoffs, we had that real squeaker with Carver. After that, it was 35-7, 35-7. No dramatics.
“This year Asheville was a tough game, Tuscola was a tough game. Eastern Alamance had a one-point lead. It was tough all the way around.”
The Falcons were led by senior K.P. Parks, who ranks third nationally in career rushing yardage. He’s the county’s offensive player of the year, and teammate Eli Goodson won the defensive award.
Defensive end Chris Smith and Parks both scored touchdowns in the recent Shrine Bowl, and offensive lineman Timmy Pangburn had another stellar season. Smith, Parks, Pangburn and Goodson were named to the all-state team Wednesday.
“Everybody wants to look at the talent Scott has, and it’s a testament to the work he and his staff have done,” Hinson said. “These kids don’t walk in as freshmen ó well, K.P. did it ó but who knew about Timmy Pangburn as a freshman? Who knew about Chris Smith and Eli Goodson and all those other kids. You didn’t know much about them, but they turned out to be very, very good football players.
“It’s a testament to the work Scott and his staff have done to build and develop football players.”