No 4: Connor Mitch leads high-powered Wakefield offense

Gamecocks recruit Mitch returns at QB for new head coach Sink

cgrant@newsobserver.comAugust 9, 2012 

  • N&O preseason rankings (2011 record) 1. Coming Saturday 2. Coming Saturday 3. Durham Hillside (11-2) 4. Wakefield (9-3) 5. Middle Creek (10-4) 6. Wake Forest-Rolesville (13-3) 7. Cleveland (11-4) 8. Southeast Raleigh (9-3) 9. Fuquay-Varina (10-2) 10. Cardinal Gibbons (11-2) 11. Chapel Hill (10-3) 12. Cary (9-3) 13. Erwin Triton (10-2) 14. West Johnston (7-4) 15. Clayton (5-7) 16. Panther Creek (8-4) 17. Broughton (5-6) 18. Bunn (9-4) 19. Southern Durham (7-4) 20. Knightdale (4-6)

— First-year head coach Rod Sink isn’t tinkering too much with Wakefield’s high-powered offense.

The team’s offensive coordinator last year, Sink said he’s just adding a few ideas to the arsenal.

“We’re hoping to step it up a notch and throw a couple wrinkles in there,” he said.

Last year, Wakefield’s offense, powered by star quarterback Connor Mitch, consistently scored more than 40 points per game – with 50 or more in five games – and the defense held opponents to an average of less than 29 points.

The Wolverines stumbled twice during the regular season en route to a 10-3 finish. The league losses came back-to-back against Leesville Road and Wake Forest-Rolesville.

Wakefield put up its lowest point total of the year against Wake Forest-Rolesville in a midseason game that left the Wolverines scoreless in the second half and allowed Wake Forest-Rolesville a 14-13 come-from-behind win.

A week earlier, Wakefield fell to eventual Cap Eight champion Leesville Road in a 67-58 shootout in which the Wolverines racked up 700 yards of offense.

Sink said while Wakefield’s offense will remain primarily the same, the defense will see a change in style.

In the past, the defensive mentality was “as long as they don’t score, we’re OK,” Sink said.

“The offense, we score in a hurry, and then (the other team) they’d just hold onto the ball,” he said. “We want to play as fast on defense as we do on offense. Our main goal this year is to create turnovers.”

Wake County’s new school choice offering gave Wakefield a bit of a boost with players transferring in.

“It helped round out our program a little bit,” Sink said. “Most of them stepped into spots that were kind of vacated by seniors last year.”

The Wolverines return five starters on defense and four on offense.

Mitch will be a key factor again for Wakefield.

He committed to South Carolina after completing 254 of 425 passes last year for 3,832 yards, enough for more than 300 yards per game.

Mitch’s top two targets are also back.

Jordan Fielleteau, a North Carolina recruit, and senior Chris Ballen combined for more than 2,000 receiving yards and hauled in 22 and 12 touchdowns, respectively.

But in order for these tandems to connect, Sink needs the offensive line to come together.

“The big thing for us will be how well this line is going to gel together,” he said. “Connor is good, but if he’s running the whole time, he’s not going to be able to do it.

“As soon as (the line) is up to speed, we’re going to be pretty good.”

The Wolverines will open the season at Durham Riverside at 7 p.m. on Aug. 17.

Grant: 919-829-4538

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