Friday Night Heroes: West Rowan's Jordan Davenport anad Mack Flanagan
By Mike London
MOUNT ULLA — Since the first scrimmage, West Rowan’s Mack “Truck” Flanagan has worn a badge of honor — a wound between his eyes that is part gash, part bruise and part lump.
“Not much way that it can heal up during football season,” running backs coach Jeff Chapman said. “And he’s a football player.”
If you had to guess the 5-foot-8, 200-pound Flanagan’s position, you’d guess fullback, and you’d be right.
Same thing for Jordan Davenport, West’s other senior fullback. Davenport is even stockier than Flanagan and his 5-8 roster height appears wildly optimistic. Maybe coaches anticipate a sudden growth spurt.
Davenport is “Shortport” or “Davenshort” to his teammates. Star tailback Dinkin Miller called him “Club Sandwich” when he had a broken right hand and his swollen appendage was heavily wrapped to protect pins and rods that had been inserted.
Obviously, playing fullback lends itself to attracting nicknames — if not carries.
West (11-2) is an old-school, I-formation, run-the-ball team. The tailback is featured. The fullback, stationed directly in front him, is the lead blocker. It’s a system that made Wade Moore a legend and made K.P. Parks a national record-holder. Now it’s made Miller a 2,000-yard superhero.
“I tell the fullbacks the first day of August their job is to block,” Chapman said. “It’s a role we give to kids who aren’t big enough to be offensive linemen, but they can run a little bit. It’s a thankless role because if you do your job nobody notices. Miss your block and everybody notices.”
Doctors cleared Davenport to return to action five weeks ago. His carries have included a 13-yard rumble against Mount Pleasant in the first round of the playoffs and a 10-yard stampede for a big first down in Friday’s 32-27 win against Statesville.
“Actually, I thought I had a touchdown,” Davenport said. “I saw touchdown. But I always see touchdown.”
Statesville was his best game.
“When we watched the film, Jordan just literally jumped out at us,” head coach Scott Young said. “He played fast and physical.”
Davenport loves to run the ball on those one or two occasions a night he’s called on, but mostly he just enjoys continuous contact.
“I love smashmouth football, and that’s what our identity is,” he said. “Statesville had a good defense and put a lot of people in the box, but we were still going to run it.
“The fullback’s job is important. If it’s an iso play and I get the linebacker, it’s a big play for Dinkin. If it’s a gap play and I get the defensive end, it’s a big play for Dinkin. Same thing on the sweep. If I get the corner, it’s a big play for Dinkin.”
There have been a lot of big plays for Dinkin. Davenport and Flanagan haven’t shied away from sticking their noses into traffic.
“Mack has been solid most of the year,” Young said. “Jordan has really come on.”
So when all is said and done is it fun to play fullback at West.
“Well, we do get to hit people and hitting people is good,” Flanagan said. “We just pound it down with in-your-face football and we believe the toughest team wins. I’m supposed to attack, and if I knock someone down, I’ll even get a carry or two.”
Flanagan has carried 23 times this season, including a TD plunge against South Rowan. But mostly he and Davenport just line up and collide with somebody.
“Most people don’t even know our fullbacks’ names,” Chapman said. “But Dinkin knows who they are.”