Linwan Euwell knows that expectations will be high for Southwest Edgecombe High School in 2006. The Cougars return 14 starters from a team that finished 9-3 in 2005, and Euwell has one team goal that is really important to him.
"State championship... all the way," he said. "We've got all our starting linebackers back, all of our offensive linemen except for one, and a lot of backs. We've got a lot coming back, and we want to get it done with defense.
"Our coach always says you can't lose if the other team scores zero points. Defense wins championships, and that's the mentality we're going to try and have."
Every year teams enter the season with the dream to win a state championship, but just a few are able to accomplish the goal. Will it be a disappointment for Euwell if the Cougars fail to win the state 3A title?
"It will be disappointing because I think we have the talent," he said. "We have the talent, speed, and athleticism to make it there. It's too much talent to be wasted. Our coaches are coaching us well. We've got a good chance."
Euwell's confidence and optimism comes from Southwest Edgecombe head coach Raymond Cobb. Coach Cobb stresses the value of a team, it has carried over to his players.
"He always says it's the team before yourself," Euwell said of Cobb. "If you're a team player, you will know why you're not getting the ball and why you are not starting. Champions train and losers complain. That's our motto... it's on our wall, and that's the mentality we're trying to take into this year."
Euwell is coming off a strong junior season, as he was a dominant force at defensive end. Registering 98 tackles, 27 tackles for loss, and 12 sacks, Euwell earned all-conference and all-state honors. A NC State commitment, Euwell feels that his future is at defensive end but believes he could play outside linebacker on the next level if asked to do so.
He got his first chance to play the position at this spring's Shrine Bowl invite-only combine held in Chapel Hill.
|"It's something I had to learn because I might need to do it in college."|
"It was a little difficult at first," said Euwell. "As I went along I got used to it, being in a two-point position and dropping in the flats. It's something I had to learn because I might need to do it in college. That was a great chance for me to get a start at doing that.
"My prime position is defensive end. I might play outside linebacker and some tight end for us this year, but my main role is going to be rushing the passer at defensive end."
An invitation to be on th 2006 Shrine Bowl team is a personal goal of Euwell's, but he has some business at Southwest Edgecombe to take care of first.
"It's a goal for me," said Euwell. "You've got to take everything one step at a time, but that's a goal of mine. I want to play in the Shrine Bowl, but I want to win a title more than that."
He pointed out that there were some whispers around town from folks who believed he was too small to play defensive end at NC State. Standing 6-foot-3 and 210-pounds, Euwell has a frame that can add a lot of weight, but he feels his play in 2006 will silence the critics.
"I'm a senior, and I want to do better than I did last year," he said. "I want to take it up another level. I need to take my game up because ever since I committed I have to show everybody why they were looking at me."
Check back tomorrow for Part II of Pack Pride's exclusive feature on NC State defensive end commitment Linwan Euwell ...