Prep Football's First Day: West Rowan practice
By Mike London
MOUNT ULLA — Scott Young is in great shape, and there’s a pretty decent chance his West Rowan football team will be as well.
Young has shed 25 pounds since last fall’s heart attack through a combination of diet and exercise.
“More exercise, but mostly I just don’t eat the things that are bad for me anymore,” Young said. “When you have a heart attack, it forces you to make some changes.”
Just about everyone on West’s schedule is looking for payback, although they won’t necessarily get it against a program that has won 95 of its last 104 football games.
Forty-one straight county wins, 32 straight NPC victories and four straight trips to the 3A championship game are in the record book, and Young is confident more chapters are still to be written in the bestseller entitled “West Rowan dominates.”
“Oh, we’ll be all right this season,” said Young, who has 92 players. “And I still love doing this.”
In a technical sense, Monday marked the first official day of practice, but it was Day 1 in name only. Lots of dues already have been paid. This season actually started with a June mini-camp.
West followed up with a second mini-camp last week. Falcons have grunted through three tough offensive-line camps, and West has thrown passes and defended passes in 14 spirited 7-on-7 contests, taking on talented folks like A.L. Brown.
“We’ve already got a pretty good idea of who we are and what we have,” Young said.
Young’s major adjustments this season will involve his coaching staff.
Durwood Bynum, James Collins, Lee Linville, Butch Browning, Mark Young (a tireless worker who is the head coach’s brother), Darrell Misenheimer, Kevin Parks and Tim Dixon remain on board. Julian Samolu, Justin McIntyre and Patrick Hampton, guys who helped build the dynasty on the field, now are assistant coaches.
The most important new face belongs to Zach Bevilacqua. He’s in charge of the offensive line, the foundation on which this program was built. A Shrine Bowler not that long ago, he was head coach at North Lincoln last fall. Bevilacqua replaces Joe Nixon, the offensive line coach/offensive coordinator, who is now the head coach at North Rowan.
Young will be the offensive coordinator.
“I did play calls last year, and I’ll assume the coordinator title for now,” he said.
Linville, a former head coach at North Iredell, has been coaching linebackers at West. He’s been promoted to defensive coordinator duties, a role that David Hunt handled with strategic genius and limitless humor for a very long time.
Hunt has retired.
Bynum again will coordinate West’s frequently devastating special teams.
Young has every expectation that the machine will keep rolling and that players will buy into what he and his assistants are selling.
Still things are a little different in Mount Ulla without Hunt’s wisecracks and Nixon’s booming voice.
“The biggest change for me personally is just in the day-to-day operations,” Young said. “David and Joe were here for so long and handled certain things in a certain way for so long, that it’s just different now. It kind of freaks me out a little, but at the same time it’s kind of exciting when something unexpected happens.”
There have been some personnel losses during the summer — but also unexpected personnel gains.
Chris Patterson, a quick receiver who played at East Rowan, has enrolled at West and will boost a position that was the biggest question mark. Bubba McLaughlin, a strong, seasoned linebacker who was good at South Rowan, also has enrolled.
Two scrimmages are coming up and some boys always turn into young men.
“Some kids will earn some things and some kids will lose some things,” Young said. “There will be surprises. You pull for the surprises to be good ones.”
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