West will not change
WINSTON-SALEM – Dance with the one who brought you.
After watching coaches make the mistake of changing every ingredient of success in big games, Northampton County High School – West skipper Diego Hasty knows better.
&uot;We had a pretty good week of practice, but we didn’t change much,&uot; the coach said. &uot;We worked on a few things – special teams and fine tuning things – but it’s too late to change now.&uot;
Now is the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1-A championship game today (Saturday) where the Hurricanes will meet Elkin High School.
The Bucking Elks have been to the state title game three times in the past four years and have won a pair of state titles. The Hurricanes are making their first-ever appearance in the championship game.
Hasty said he was confident West could play with Elkin, but was equally sure they had to continue to do what had brought them success.
The coach said he was consistent with his schedule he has maintained throughout the season, keeping focus on the same areas each day in practice.
&uot;We’ve been doing this week what we’ve been doing all year,&uot; he insisted. &uot;We’re not going to change now.&uot;
One of the keys to success this season has been senior running back Titus Lee. The 5′-5&uot;, 155-pounder has consistently dominated opposing defenses to the tune of 1,538 yards this season.
Lee has been consistently the most dominant runner in the 1-A ranks, but has solid help in the backfield with Devin Williams (602 yards on 92 carries) and Todd Squire (385 yards on 60 carries). Senior Mack Parker has also been solid in the post-season.
Elkin, despite averaging nearly 42 points per game, are known for their defense. In fact, the Bucking Elks have shutout seven opponents and held five others to a single touchdown. They are led by All-State defensive tackle Terry Adams.
Despite the Elks’ solid defense, Hasty said he was confident in his offense.
&uot;If we do what we need to and I mean control the ball and don’t have turnovers, we can move the football,&uot; he said. &uot;They are strong defensively, but I feel like if we play to our capability, we’ll be able to move the ball.&uot;
The coach said the defensive philosophy of Elkin and the offensive philosophy of the Hurricanes would be similar.
&uot;They like to attack on defense and we’re aggressive on offense and will attack back,&uot; Hasty said. &uot;It will be body on body and the best player is going to win.&uot;
As they practiced this week, Hasty said he concentrated on special teams and protecting the football because they would be the keys.
&uot;If we don’t give up big plays and don’t turn the ball over, we’ll be okay,&uot; he said. &uot;We need to control the clock, punch away at their defense and make them change what they do.&uot;
One thing the Hurricanes haven’t focused on is the importance of the state title game or the difference in playing at Wake Forest University.
&uot;We’re going to a college stadium, which will be different,&uot; Hasty said. &uot;What we’ve told our players is to have fun and enjoy it. The football field is still 100 yards long and there will still be 11 on offense playing against 11 on defense.
&uot;I haven’t preached the historical significance for West,&uot; he said. &uot;They see the news and they read it in the papers, so they know what it’s about. We’ve focused solely on football.&uot;
While the Hurricanes are focusing on football, their coach said he is aware that it will be an important night in the life of the young men on his team.
&uot;I think it will be a lifetime memory,&uot; he said. &uot;They’ll never forget this.&uot;
Kickoff for the state championship will be at 12 noon at Groves Stadium in Winston-Salem.
The game will be on the air on three local radio stations. Gattis Hodges and Trent McGee will have the live call, beginning with a pre-game show at 11 a.m. The broadcast will be on 98.3 WDLZ-FM in Murfreesboro, 1230 AM ESPN Radio in Roanoke Rapids and 99.5 WYTT 99.5 in Gaston.