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Spring Football: West Rowan faces change, challenges

This is the first of six stories on spring football in Rowan County.
Today: West Rowan
By Ronnie Gallagher
rgallagher@salisburypost.com
MOUNT ULLA — Football in the spring at West Rowan is usually a time to remember a state-championship run and begin preparing for another.
This spring is a little different.
The Falcons are trying to forget.
“I’m still not over it,” head coach Scott Young said recently, referring to last December’s 38-6 beating at the hands of Havelock in the 3A state championship game. “Normally, we’re on the other side of that.”
West came into the 3A title game at Kenan Stadium with three straight state crowns, but couldn’t make it a fourth. The Falcons finished 13-3.
“Two of the three state title games were blowouts — and we got blown out,” Young said. “When we get outside, we can finally put it behind us, put that loss to bed and work toward the future.”
Young appreciated the effort and gave his players watches instead of rings at an April banquet.

As the Falcons try for another run, some are predicting a down year in the fall. But as Young points out, “Our cupboard is not empty.”
It never is.
“We’ve got seven returning starters on offense. We’re good up front on offense and defense,” Young noted.
On defense, monster lineman Trey Shepherd and linebacker Logan Stoodley are anchoring that side of the ball. Kiero Cuthbertson is back on the line. A secondary that was very young is now experienced with athletic Harvey Landy, Zeke Blackwood and Najee Tucker, among others.
Jayvee quarterback Alexis Archie is expected to replace Zay Laster under center. On the line, Brandon Hansen and Chris Hassard are among those returning. Tyler Stamp is back at wide receiver. Tailbacks Desean Reddick and Desmond Jackson, along with tight end Jack Gallagher, have started at some point.
So Young sees no reason his team can’t contend for a ninth straight North Piedmont Conference championship.
“(After 2010), we signed 12 (for college) and we still made the state title game,” he said. “That says volumes about our program.”

But Young is facing a big challenge and it has nothing to do with players.
“We have to replace key members of our staff,” he said.
Long-time right-hand man Joe Nixon, Young’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, left for North Rowan and took defensive line coach Stevie Williams with him. Crafty defensive coordinator David Hunt is apparently retiring.
During his career at West, Young had the most loyal group of assistants around. Now, he’s filling spots and it isn’t as easy as it appears.
“We’ve got to find coaches that correspond with teaching positions,” Young said.

West could have a busy summer.
The Falcons were invited to a 7-on-7 in Orlando, Fla., that has the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals televised on ESPN.
“That’s probably too expensive of a proposition,” Young smiled. “It’s a very prestigious one, but a very expensive one.”
West has a chance to go to a couple of 7-on-7s in South Carolina, including one at Dorman, which has facilities that would make some colleges drool.
“We’ll probably go to two like that,” Young said.
It will be one of the more hectic offseasons in Young’s 14 campaigns. But one thing he is putting behind him is how last year ended against Havelock.
“I have yet to watch the film,” Young reported. “If we play a college team, we don’t need to get beat that bad.”

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