Millbrook's offense was sabotaged by injuries last season when starting quarterback Trey McFarland and running back Keith Marshall were knocked out of the lineup at different times for about a month.
McFarland's concussion put him on the sideline for three weeks and disrupted the team's offensive cohesiveness. Marshall, a 1,000-yard rusher, missed the last three games with a broken thumb.
With both of the standouts in the lineup this season, Millbrook's offensive key will be line play, according to Coach Clarence Inscore.
"We were not consistent up front," he said. "We've got some good players, and they've gotten better, but we have to block more consistently."
Caleb High (6 feet 4, 265 pounds) will be a three-year starter and is expected to anchor the front. He has offers from Richmond and Western Carolina.
The Wildcats (6-6 in 2009) also will have to improve on defense. They gave up 26.9 points per game and some nights had a hard time stopping the run.
"In the playoffs, we couldn't stop Fuquay-Varina on the ground," Inscore said, recalling the 27-13 loss.
Linebacker Justus Hoffman (6-1, 250) was the defensive player of the year in the Cap Seven (now Cap Eight with the addition of Wake Forest Heritage). Defensive back Kendall Whitehead has tremendous speed and could be a standout.
Sanderson excited: Sanderson football coach Tony Lewis said there is a sense of excitement around the program this fall. The Spartans were 2-9 in 2009 but have back 24 lettermen.
"We need to do two things to get better - stay healthy and avoid mental mistakes," Lewis said.
Many of Sanderson's turnovers last year originated with mental miscues. Other mental mistakes led to penalties or breakdowns.
"We're still young, but we should be able to make fewer mistakes," Lewis said. "If we can do that and avoid some injuries, our results will be better."
Junior defensive back/receiver J.R. Soto (6-2, 180) is one of the team's better athletes. Center Johnny Pujals (6-3, 285) should be a line leader.
Louisburg has linemen: Louisburg, which is among the favorites in the Northern Carolina 2-A, returns offensive linemen Jackson Ellis, Chris Sutton, Jonathan Aycock and Jamal Lucas in front of runner Ervin Hunt.
Hunt ran for 1,567 yards in 2009 while leading the Warriors to a 9-3 record.
Louisburg lost to league champion Roanoke Rapids 27-21 in double overtime last season and lost 7-6 to Bunn en route to a third-place regular-season finish.
"Most of our games were close last year," Louisburg coach Chris Lee said. "Our kids know what to expect."
Southeast gets coach: Whitney Lamm, a former volleyball coach at Southeast Raleigh, will be the Bulldogs' coach again this season.
The Bulldogs unexpectedly lost their volleyball coach in July and were having difficulty filling the spot.
Gary Powers, the athletic director, feared the school would not be able to have a volleyball team this year.
Cary in Glaxo: The Cary boys basketball team will play in the GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational in December.
Bill Sewell, the Glaxo tournament director, extended an invitation to Cary because Raleigh's Upper Room Christian was unable to compete. Upper Room is not a member of either the N.C. High School Athletic Association or the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association.
All-star coaches: The N.C. Coaches Association announced the head coaches for the 2011 East-West all-star games. The football, basketball and soccer games are played in Greensboro in July.
Richmond County's Paul Hoggard will coach the East in the football game. Other East all-star head coaches are Jeremiah Mattingly of Wake Forest-Rolesville (boys soccer), Jorg Wagner of Eastern Wayne (girls soccer), Steve Robinson of Wallace-Rose Hill (boys basketball) and Debra Pegram of Wilson Beddingfield (girls basketball).
Pam Adams of Northern Durham is the girls coach in the North Carolina/ South Carolina all-star game. Fred Lynch of Wilmington Laney will coach the boys squad.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-829-8910