Friday Night Hero: West Rowan's Trey Cuthbertson
By Ronnie Gallagher
MOUNT ULLA — It’s one of the the most exciting plays in football — the punt return.
While the ball’s in the air, no one has any idea what’s going to happen. That is, until it lands in the hands of West Rowan’s Trey Cuthbertson.
They know then.
Cuthbertson is carrying on a great tradition of punt returners for Scott Young and the senior added to it by being a special teams star in a 54-0 win against North Iredell on Friday.
Cuthbertson ran a punt in from 69 yards with two minutes left in the first period. He finished the rout with a 61-yard return with 37 seconds left in the third period.
It was his third score this season. A fourth was called back due to a penalty.
Cuthbertson gave credit to everyone but himself, starting with special teams coach Durwood Bynum.
“I just do what Coach says and follow my blocking,” he said.
Bynum noted that Cuthbertson is smart enough to know his returns won’t happen without his teammates.
“He has a lot of speed and he reads his blocks very well,” Bynum said. “A lot of the credit goes to his wall guys. He didn’t get touched on either one.”
West Rowan was winning 7-0 when West’s stout defense forced a Raider punt late in the first quarter.
“I remember seeing Trey Shepherd coming around and making a real good block for me to get around the outside,” Cuthberston said. “When I got outside, I used my speed.”
Cuthbertson remembers getting a block from another defensive lineman on his second return.
“It was almost like the first one except for the end,” he said. “Maurice had a big block.”
Last season, Cuthbertson took notice of speedsters Trey Mashore and Eric Cowan scaring the daylights out of opponents with their kick-return abilities.
“It was exciting watching them,” he said. “It got me excited.”
“Trey had big shoes to fill,” Bynum acknowledged. “It takes a special kind of person — somebody with no fear who wants to catch it knowing he’s going to get hit. He’s got to be really brave and have a lot of heart.”
“He was struggling a little bit but now, he’s getting a little confidence in himself,” Bynum praised.
Bynum told Cuthbertson last season to have the Florida State mentality of the ’80s. You’ve got to wait your turn.
“I knew if I kept working, it would eventually come to me,” Cuthbertson said.
He is a big part of a team that is hitting its stride at the right time.
“I think if we keep working hard like Coach Young tells us to, we’ll be all right,” Cuthbertson said.
He hopes he helps out with another punt return for a score. He loves the feeling of racing into the end zone.
“It’s a moment of enjoyment and excitement and knowing everybody’s looking at you,” he smiled.
Bynum is among those watching, thinking about a pleasant film session.
“It’s pretty good for me,” Bynum laughed of a Cuthbertson punt return. “I don’t have to hear Coach Young on Sunday!”