Beloved coach remembered

Published 9:20 am Thursday, November 30, 2017

There are far too many great things to say about Scott Young and far too few ways to say them.

His death on Nov. 15 brought enormous sadness to athletes and coaches from West Rowan and Davie. Young was a football and track coach at Davie in the 1990s. He was the head football coach at West Rowan from 1998-2014. It’s an impossible reality for Young’s family because he was just 46.

Young graduated from East Rowan in 1989. He played on the line for the Mustangs, and his position coach was Ed Bowles, a star athlete at Davie in the early ‘60s and a member of the Davie Athletic Hall of Fame. Young played offensive guard at Guilford College.

In 1993, Young was a volunteer football coach at Erwin Middle School. His first high-school job came at Davie, where he was a defensive coach for four years – under Randall Ward in ‘94 and ‘95 and under Benjie Brown in ‘96 and ‘97.

“I was familiar with coach Ward because he was at West Rowan when I played (at East Rowan),” Young told the Enterprise in 1994.

Young coached defensive linemen under Ward. He coached linebackers under Brown, and he began a weight-lifting program.

The ‘96 and ‘97 football seasons will stand forever in Davie history, and Young’s infectious enthusiasm was in the middle of it. In ‘96, Davie stunned West Forsyth 7-3 for the first win over the Titans in nine years. The War Eagles’ runner-up finish in the Central Piedmont Conference was their highest finish in 12 years. They qualified for the playoffs for the first time in seven years. After going 0-4 in playoff games between 1965-89, they celebrated the their first playoff win, 20-0 at Hunter Huss. At 8-5, they savored their first winning season in nine years.

The ‘97 season produced more landmark moments. The War Eagles went 11-3 to break the then-record for wins. In the first round of the 4-A playoffs, they dispatched Ashbrook 22-15. In the second round, they pulled out one of the most exciting wins ever, 41-35 in four overtimes over visiting Freedom in what is known as the Fog Bowl. The run ended at Crest in the quarterfinals.

Young’s untimely death created a reunion of sorts on Facebook. Memories of the 1996-97 seasons came flooding back as if they happened yesterday. The cliche rings true: They would have run through a brick wall for the man.

“These pictures are great and do bring back a lot of great memories,” said Scott Cornatzer of Advance, a safety on the 1996-97 teams. “It really does remind me that coach Young was the guy that made our program. Coach (Benjie) Brown brought a different mindset for sure. But coach Young lived it daily with our weight-lifting classes, and our mission to get bigger, faster and stronger all came through him. He was a great dude and honestly I can say he had the most impact on me becoming a college level athlete (at Appalachian State).”

“I can tell this story now. I remember on Wednesdays or Thursdays coach Young and coach DeVore Holman would put helmets on and run the ol’ dive play with us,” said David Daye of Engelhard, a record-setting running back in ‘96. “Carried it like a champ.”

“He is one of the reasons I do what I do,” said Jeremy Helton, who played offensive line in 1996-97 and now coaches softball at Forbush. “Thanks for showing me the way.”

“One of my best friends,” said Holman, now the head coach at West Caldwell. “Scott and I coached together and did most everything together for a long time. He was one of the Four Horsemen, which consisted of Scott, Jeff (Ward), Brian (Cantrell) and myself. We will always be the Four Horsemen and I look forward to the day that we can see each other again. The impact that you had on people, including myself, gives me the strength to know what we are doing with these young men is not in vain. When we talked via text (five days before his death), I didn’t know it would be the last time we would speak. But I am so thankful that we told each other that we loved one another.”

In the spring of ‘97, Davie’s boys track and field team captured the conference championship for the first time in 20 years. It hasn’t won one since. Young made a quick and lasting impression on those athletes as well.

“A great man who dedicated his life to inspiring others,” said Davie hall of famer Garick Hill of Cincinnati, Oh. “Scott Young will be missed immensely.”

“That’s heartbreaking,” Travis Ervin said. “I owe such a debt to that man. Each of my coaches has been great but that combo with Cary Powers, DeVore Holman and Scott Young was a life-changing force. And that conference championship was amazing. I never put too many points on the board, but I dug deep on the two mile and passed a Mt. Tabor runner just before the finish, getting one point. But swinging the point from Tabor made the difference. Holman and Young about crushed my tiny frame after I came in. Coach took me out of the mile that day and put me in the two (mile) knowing I could come through. I wanted to do both, but it was just what I needed, just what the team needed. His belief in me had a lot to do with how I performed. I’ve thought back on those amazing men through so many tough times and am eternally grateful for the lessons they taught me.”

“Some of my best high school memories are of being on the track and cross country teams, the friendships that were made and the support and mentorship from our awesome coaches,” Laurie Desch said. “Even though we came in 16th out of 16 (in the state track meet my freshman year), our coaches couldn’t have been more proud of us. Coach Young believed in his athletes. What a gift he gave to so many.”

“I don’t remember what year coach Young started to help coach track at Davie, but I know he was there,” said Colleen Brooks Bracken of Fayetteville. “Always offering a smile and a quick witted comment to make us smile. Always proud of us, no matter the outcome. Not only was he larger than life to the football players, he was such a big part in everyone’s life he touched and will not be soon forgotten.”

After serving as a Davie assistant for four years, Young was eager for a head-coaching job. At age 26, he landed the football job at West Rowan in ‘98, and how lucky the Falcons were for that.

During a 17-year run (1998-2014), Young set the Rowan County standard for success. With current Davie assistant Dave Hunt operating as defensive coordinator, the Falcons won three consecutive 3A titles from 2008-10. They won nine conference championships, including eight in a row from 2004-11. At 172-54, Young is No. 2 on Rowan County’s wins list, second only to S.W. “Prof” Lancaster, who collected 183 wins at J.C. Price over a 30-year career. West’s previous 13 head coaches went a combined 147-240, with two playoff victories and no conference titles.

Young’s first year at West was a serious challenge, going 3-8. But he turned the program 180 degrees the second year, going 8-3 in 1999, and the Falcons never looked back. They haven’t had a losing season since ‘98.

“Coach Young was a great coach and guy. Even at a young age, I knew this coach was a special guy,” said Jonathan Vaughters of Voorhees, N.J., who graduated from Davie in 1995.

“I was honored to have coached under Scott several years,” said 1991 Davie graduate Chad Correll of Mocksville. “He could get the most out of players. Our players would have run through a wall for him. Scott was a great coach, mentor, leader, motivator, father and husband.”

“Scott was a competitor,” said Lee Linville of Mocksville, who coached with Young at Davie and under him at West. “He wanted to win at everything he did, not just football. He wanted to win at life. He wanted to be great at all of his roles in life. He inspired those around him to be great also. His motto was ‘faith, family, football.’ He strived to keep these priorities in order. He was a great friend and would do whatever he could to help you. He made me want to be a better man, a better father, a better husband, a better teacher and a better coach.”

More about Young’s extraordinary success at West: In 2001, the Falcons began a county winning streak (44) that didn’t end until 2012. During the three-peat years, they went 15-1 in 2008, 16-0 in 2009 and 16-0 again in 2010. At that time, they owned the longest winning streak in the country (46).

They finished as state runner-up in 2011. West wasn’t supposed to play in December that year, but Young put together an astonishing run with Elmer’s Glue and bailing wire.

Young faced his former school (Davie) every year from 2001-14, and the matchups were almost always knock-down-drag-out duels. Young held the upper hand, 9-5, winning the last six meetings from 2009-14.

Young was the total package. He had a glare that would set fire to glaciers. When a player needed a pat on the back, he could make corrections gently. In defeat, he handled himself with class and composure. He was tons of fun to interview. He loved to talk football and he never sugarcoated anything.

Young suffered his first heart attack on Oct. 24, 2011, but he would lead the Falcons for three more years. He had heart problems in 2015 and resigned as coach in April. On May 16, 2016, he had heart transplant surgery and spent 49 days in the hospital. He became an assistant coach at Statesville in 2016, son Bryant Young’s junior year.

Bryant delivered an outstanding senior year at quarterback for the Greyhounds. Their 2017 season ended in the first round of the 3AA playoffs on Nov. 10. Scott was on hand for Bryant’s final game. Five days later, he died of complications from the heart transplant, leaving behind wife Dianne and three children, including daughter Ally, a sophomore at Statesville, and young son Brody.

It’s incredible the impact Young had on athletes over a span of 24 years. Joel Crotts, who played offensive line at Davie from 1994-97, has tremendous affection for Young. With tears welling in his eyes, he offered wide-ranging thoughts.

“It all began in late July of 1994, the first day of football practice my freshman year. Little did I know I was about to meet a man that would be one of the largest influences on me during my most impressionable years. That is the day I met Coach Scott ‘No Neck’ Young, whom I was later able to call plays for at West Rowan. As David Daye has said, ‘Coach Young was someone all of us could talk to about anything,’ and he treated us all a little like his little brother due to the small age gap. He was able to see our potential before we could and knew how to push us to a breaking point of hatred during practice. But then when the lights came on it all made sense. From hosting all of the linemen at his house for an end-of-year meal or being with us for all of our events those four years, Coach was always apart of what we were doing.

“Many folks will talk about his time on the football field, and that is well deserved. I want to touch on something that was not related to the football field but will shed a small light on the character of this man. It was my sophomore year and Coach was also our track coach. It was the day after a meet in which I had thrown my personal-best shot put at 55-10. During practice I suffered a fractured ankle with ligament damage. Guess who took me to the hospital in the bed of ol’ Ford Danger Ranger? He was a nervous wreck and was acting as if it was his fault and I were his kid. My mother was having trouble getting to the Davie Hospital, but there was no way Coach was leaving me until someone was there with me. I am not sure who was more upset and concerned about this incident, Coach Young or my mom? I still to this day remember the look on his face.

“I was facing some school work trouble and not sure where to turn during my high school years. After talking with Coach, I was reassured that I would be okay and I have to handle my school work first. Little did I know that after our discussion that Coach went to one of the best teachers to ever walk the halls of Davie and on my behalf worked out some extra sessions with the wonderful Mrs. (Pat) Noel. I am writing this letter today with an MBA and in pursuit of an additional Master’s degree because he went out on a limb for me to a teacher and set up tutoring sessions in any subject I needed help in, and this lasted the remainder of my time at Davie. There was one thing I knew for fact while at Davie – that coach Young was not going to let me fail and would be right beside me every step of the way. We later went on as a football team – with a coaching staff that would rival anyone in the state and still to this day was probably one of the best ever – to accomplish many things. We won the first playoff game, we had the Fog Bowl and numerous other accolades in addition to starting the ‘DCAW’ mindset and philosophy.

“I followed him (to West Rowan). I was fortunate enough to coach football with this man for numerous years, and no one was more excited for me to be coaching than coach Young. But Coach was so much more and through Coach I was able to meet an absolute wonder woman and mother in Dianne (Moma Young as we called her). These two had a relationship many of us admired with the passion they have for one another and love for their family. If you are Coach and Moma Young’s friend you are family. Bryant, Ally and Brody are like nieces and nephews to many of us due to the way Coach took us all in.

“Coach, I will miss our discussions during film session, bad mouthing one another’s team choices, family discussions, learning from you about football and most importantly life and your advice. I could write this letter for days and discuss all the ways you have impacted me, but I will close for I am having trouble keeping my keyboard dry from the tears. Bryant, Ally and Brody, know this: You have many brothers and sisters that do not have ‘Young’ as a last name. Your father is one of the best and will be truly missed, but we have our memories of him. Know this: All the events that have happened and you thought I can’t wait to tell Dad. He is now with you during those times. You may throw a little farther, spike a little more precious or make better tackles, and that is because he is with you during those events and not just watching. Moma Young, I cannot imagine what you’re going through but I am sure that wonderful smile that Coach had most of the time was and is because of you and the kids. We are all here for you and as Coach would say: ‘Hell yeah, roll Tide baby.’

“The last time I saw Coach, he was so proud. It was Bryant’s senior night and I was able to walk that sideline with him in Statesville. While he and I were talking, he just kept talking about Brody and his team and Ally with her volleyball success.

“Rest easy, Coach. The pain is gone and now we have you with us all of the time. I can truly say I am lucky to have known you and walked the sidelines with you.”

The end came too soon for Young. Before heart issues, his epic career was only around the halfway point. A great man passed away Nov. 15, but the memories will live forever.