By RYAN HERMAN
VALE –– West Lincoln has never won a state playoff football game, but Miguel Corella plans on changing that.
Corella, the Rebels’ senior quarterback, leads them into the state playoffs for the fourth straight year as they prepare to travel to Hunter Huss on Friday.
West Lincoln is making its sixth postseason appearance in school history, and it is winless in its first five trips.
Corella is tired of the negative history that surrounds his school.
“I went through it for three years. I’m ready to make a change to it,” he said.
The senior knows what it takes to win. He was a part of a junior varsity team as a freshman that went undefeated and won a conference championship.
Here he is, three years later, with a chance to make history.
“There’s no added pressure to me,” Corella said. “I try to stay calm and collected and go out every single week and try to win the game.”
The 6-foot, 180-pound signal caller serves as a second running back more than a quarterback.
To date Corella is second on the team to fellow senior Daniel Davila in rushing at 102.3 yards per game, but leads the Rebels (7-4) in yards per carry at just over 8. He also leads it in touchdowns with a total of 17. On the flipside, he’s last in the Southern District 7 Athletic 2A Conference in passing yards (347) and passing TDs (two).
That’s not because he isn’t a good passer, but because he’s a better runner.
“They’d rather see me run it than throw it, but they’ll let me throw it when the chance is there,” Corella said.
Corella said he began his career as a receiver, but midway through his junior season his coaches decided to give him a shot under center.
Things haven’t been the same at West Lincoln since.
“They gave me a shot … and they’re like, ‘OK, let’s do this,’” he said.
What this year’s Rebels are trying to do is do something no other West Lincoln football team has done in its 52-year history and that’s get to the second round of the state playoffs.
West Lincoln, seeded 12th in the 2AA West bracket this year, didn’t make its first trip to the postseason until 2005 –– when Corella was in fourth grade.
Since Corella and his fellow senior teammates arrived as freshmen, the football program has taken a turn for the better.
The Rebels have made the playoffs in each of the last four seasons. Playing smart and staying focused got them to there.
It can also get the to the second round.
“Just stay focused, do our jobs, play smart, play physical like we always do. We’ve got the speed this year and I think we can keep up with them,” Corella said of the Huskies. “We just need to play like we’ve always been playing. Keep the tempo up, have more possessions than the other team, I think we’ll win it.”
Hunter Huss (4-7), a fifth-seed which was the top 2A team in the combo Big South 2A/3A Conference, hasn’t won a state playoff game since 2006. But it has won three of its last four games while West Lincoln enters the game on a three-game losing streak.
But those three games are in the past.
“We did have a couple people injured but … we just got off track. We just lost (our focus) a little bit,” Corella said.
“We don’t think about it. Put everything in the past.”
A win would not only give the Rebels their first postseason victory in history, but it could potentially set up their first home playoff game given No. 13 Bunker Hill upsets No. 4 Ashe County.
But Corella is trying to get his team to make sure it doesn’t look past this week, and forget about the 4-win record of West Lincoln’s opponent.
“We play them as if they’re 0-0,” he said. “It’s playoff time.”