Gallagher column: West's Young always expects to win
Despite the final score of 38-6 in a loss to Havelock in the 3A state championship game last December, West Rowan coach Scott Young seemed a little surprised.
Not that Havelock beat the Falcons. The Rams dominated the game.
He just thought it was destiny for his team to win.
The stars seemed aligned to produce one of those fairy-tale endings:
• Young suffered a heart attack late in the regular season.
• Entering the playoffs, no one gave his team much of a chance to make it past the second round, much less the state-title game.
• Written off before the Western final at Burns even began, West played its best game of the season, stunning the big crowd in Cleveland County with an impressive 33-7 rout.
“When we won at Burns,” Young mused, “I thought it was destiny. I had that heart attack. I felt we were going to lose some coaches and lose some great players. I thought we were going to finish the deal in Chapel Hill.”
Last season may have been the best coaching job of Young’s illustrious career.
No one expected a fourth straight appearance in a state championship game. Especially when West lost its nation’s-best 46-game winning streak in the opener.
And not when the Falcons trudged off their own field, losers to South Pointe (S.C.), dropping them to 2-2.
No one, that is, except Young. You’re not 148-40 in your career and 60-4 over the past four seasons without feeling you can win every time out.
Young thinks back on the eight straight North Piedmont Conference championship years and the people who wrote the Falcons off time and again.
“There were three or four years during those eight where it was going to end,” he smiled. “When K.P. (Parks), Chris (Smith) and Jon (Crucitti) graduated, 99 percent of the population said we were done. All we did was go 16-0. When B.J. (Sherrill) graduated, 99.9 percent said we were done. And we went 13-3.”
Young’s heart attack was a story in itself. He felt chest pains and took himself to the hospital. He was in the press box four nights later, willing the Falcons to a win over West Iredell.
Young learned from the experience. He has lost around 25 pounds and is looking as good as ever.
“The doctors advised me to do less work but for obvious reasons, I’m doing more,” Young said. “I’ve lost staff. Stress worries me more than anything.”
West has a tough schedule, starting Friday at home against Mooresville, the team that ended the streak.
Game 2: Davie County, a Central Piedmont 4A contender every year.
Game 3: Salisbury.
“When was the last time they didn’t win double-figure games,” Young wondered.
Game 4: North Rowan and his former right-hand man Joe Nixon, the Cavaliers’ new head coach.
Game 5: Statesville, the team the so-called experts feel will supplant West as NPC champs.
“There will be some interesting stories,” Young said. “You want to win them all, but you want to be a realist. If you come out 3-2, you’ll feel good about yourself.”
The most interesting story of all will be West Rowan. After last year’s slow start, Young was smart enough to look at the big picture and was not surprised when his team reeled off 11 straight victories, entering Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill with a 13-2 record.
He expected it.
A fifth straight trip to the state final?
No one is predicting that before the first game is played.
But who knows? In the end, destiny may just find West Rowan once again.
Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost,com.