Prep Football: West Rowan 21, West Iredell 0
By Ryan Bisesi
STATESVILLE — With the speed bump the West Rowan program faced earlier in the week, a return to normalcy was sought at Warrior War Field Friday night.
Despite the fact that head coach Scott Young wasn’t on the sideline, the performance couldn’t have been more textbook West Rowan — 167 yards rushing from Dinkin Miller and a shutout thrown by the defense equaled the 32nd consecutive NPC win for the Falcons and clinched an outright title in a 21-0 win at West Iredell.
The last seven of West’s eight straight crowns are outright. They also secured the NPC’s No. 1 seed for the playoffs.
“It was on everybody’s mind,” said West Rowan assistant David Hunt of Young’s heart attack on Monday. “Credit them that when we went to work at practice, we went to work at practice. We didn’t talk about Coach Young.”
West Iredell had scored 88 points in its last two games, but it was blanked for the first time all year against the Falcons.
“I felt we played as well as a coordinated unit as we have all year,” Hunt said. “Everybody across the board played their responsibility and played it well. I’m just tickled to death with them.”
Defensive back Demetrius Davidson grabbed his second interception of the season in his own end zone as part of two monumental stops in the red zone for the Falcon defense. Linebacker Logan Stoodley also had a pick.
In addition to Miller’s ninth straight game with over 100 yards, quarterback Zay Laster ran for a season-best 122 yards.
“Zay Laster is a pretty good quarterback,” Miller said.
The Warriors felt they had scored when quarterback Sayer Robinson piled ahead 11 yards into the end zone on fourth-and-1. Robinson was later ruled down at the 8 when an inadvertent whistle blew, ruling the play dead at the spot late in the third quarter.
“They told us that the official blew the whistle inadvertently,” West Iredell coach Mark Weycker said. “An inadvertent whistle is an inadvertent whistle.”
A touchdown would have made it a one-score game again, but West Rowan (9-2, 6-0) got the only break it needed.
After a sack by Greg Dixon, West Iredell Robinson threw a pair of incomplete passes to bring up fourth down. He hit Chavis Crosby on a swing pass with room to spare, but Crosby went down a yard short of the goal line and the Falcons dealt another crippling goal-line stand.
“They were terribly huge,” Hunt said. “The defensive front on that second stand played really well.”
The Warriors (6-4, 4-2) and their spread offense struggled with the misty conditions with 34 yards rushing and 120 through the air.
Interim coach Joe Nixon, whose father Glenn was a revered head coach at Clayton High, had his first time patrolling the sideline go pretty well.
“Our team is tough,” Nixon said. “Our team is physical and it’s a direct correlation to our head coach, Scott Young.”
Young was in the press box calling plays down to Nixon and saw a performance that probably comforted him a bit.
West Rowan had its last NPC loss at the hands of West Iredell in 2007, but it made sure the streak would see another regular season. Robinson completed 11 of 28 passes for 120 yards. Laster struggled passing the ball with one completion out of 11. Jarvis Morgan caught the lone pass for 30 yards.
West Rowan struggled in the red zone in the first half, but didn’t come away empty. Hobie Proctor kicked two field goals in the second quarter, one of 21 yards and another for 29, for a 6-0 Falcon lead at halftime.
With West Rowan up 3-0, Troy Cuthbertson recovered a fumble from Robinson that gave the Falcons the ball at the West Iredell 9.
The Falcons got the ball at their own 46 to start the second half and capitalized. Miller and Laster each ran it three times on the six-play drive, with Laster capping it off on a 4-yard touchdown spurt. Proctor’s extra point made it 13-0.
“Against a very good football team like West Rowan, you’re going to get few opportunities to put points on the board and we weren’t able to finish on those,” Weycker said.
Miller’s 1-yard touchdown with 1:28 left gave him 16 for the season. Morgan caught a pass from Laster for the two-point conversion to end the scoring. West finished with 299 yards rushing.
“We’re the best, man,” Davidson said of the streak. “We can’t be stopped regardless.”
That remains to be seen, but performances of this type are good for the heart.
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