Gallagher column: West's D-line got down and dirty
SALISBURY — Joe Pinyan is a fan of West Rowan linebacker Logan Stoodley.
“But I didn’t get to see him,” the Salisbury coach said after his team’s 37-28 loss to the Falcons.
Stoodley wasn’t hurt. It was just the defensive line was so monstrous, so stout, so down and dirty, Stoodley didn’t get many chances to make plays.
Pinyan did get to see plenty of Greg Dixon. No. 72 was a spitting, hard-hitting, no-quitting M-A-N. Just ask Salisbury quarterback Brian Bauk after he was sacked by Dixon & Company seven times.
“He was always in my face, I’ll tell you that,” Bauk sighed afterward.
People in the county were in the Falcons’ faces all week long. Salisbury, the defending 2AA state champ, was the undefeated team this time. It had the ferocious defense that had given up only five first downs, minus rushing yards and six points in two games.
West was 1-1 — and as crazy as it sounds — seemed to be losing its aura.
Its 37-game winning streak in the county would come to an end.
Now, that the game’s over, let’s go over the stats. West ran for 217 yards. It had 12 first downs.
And most importantly, the aura is back with No. 38 in a row. That’s what happens when a three-time state champ simply gets tired of the trash talk.
Salisbury made famous the phrase, “Bringing the bang-bang.” West used it in practice leading up to Friday.
“We mocked it, using it for motivation,” said an elated senior receiver Jarvis Morgan.
West showed the flash on offense and the grit on defense. It was as if the Falcons were angry.
Not angry, Dixon said. Just motivated.
“We had to come out and prove a point — that we’re still the best around,” the 270-pound hulk said. “I did what I was asked to do, make big plays.”
Dixon, Trey Shepherd, Maurice Warren, Troy Culbertson and Kiero Cuthbertson smashed, crashed and mashed Bauk. No wonder he was limping off the field.
“They were as aggressive as everything, like I’ve never seen a D-line play before,” he said.
West coach Scott Young shook his head.
“That poor kid didn’t have a chance,” he said.
Dixon was the reason.
“I think he was in our huddle a couple of times,” Pinyan said.
The other line, the big boys up front, had their best game as well. Quarterback Zay Laster made several key runs, especially on a fourth-quarter drive after Salisbury had cut the lead to 23-21. He led the Falcons downfield on a long touchdown drive.
Zay is finally a bonafide member of the Big Blue as far as the team and the fan base. He proved himself.
“I’ve got coaches and I’ve got teammates who believe I can make plays for them,” Laster said. “We love our defense but we know we have to make plays ourselves.”
The game wasn’t sealed until Morgan picked up an onsides kick and raced in untouched for a 37-28 lead in the final seconds.
“I was surprised too,” Morgan grinned. “I saw a hole and my eyes got big.”
“The thing I love about this team is that every time they got close or challenged us, our kids responded each and every time,” beamed Young, looking as proud as any of his 137 career wins. “It shows what West Rowan is about and what our program is about. We do what we do. And that’s usually good.
Pinyan was classy in defeat.
“They’re going to give you their best shot, whether they’re 800-0 or 1-1,” he said. “I hope they win a state championship. I hope we do too.”