The Cap Eight 4A conference has consistently been home to some of the area’s top teams. This year, the conference looks to live up to that reputation with some squads looking to build off last year’s success and others looking to rebuild and make a name for themselves.
The Cap Eight’s packed lineup keeps the top teams from relaxing each week.
Wakefield boasts a talented offense, led by South Carolina commit Connor Mitch, who shared conference Player of the Year honors after throwing for 3,832 yards last season.
Mitch is joined again by Jordan Fielleteau, a North Carolina recruit, and senior Chris Ballen. They combined for more than 2,000 receiving yards and 34 touchdowns.
But Wolverines coach Rod Sink isn’t mapping out parade routes just yet. Sink thought back to the Wolverines’ conference title split with Leesville and Wake Forest-Rolesville two years ago. The conference as a whole is tough, he said.
“We know if we want to have a chance to win the conference, we have to beat those teams,” Sink said. “Even Broughton is probably one of the more explosive teams in the conference.”
Broughton scored 21 or more points in 10 consecutive games last season, but will need younger talent to produce for key players who graduated.
The Caps are without Drew Davis and Chris Mangus – now at N.C. State and Virginia Tech, respectively – and quarterback Will Cooper, who set the N.C. High School Athletic Association single-game passing record as a junior in 2010.
There’s no such thing as a down week in the Cap Eight.
“There’s not a team on our schedule that we can’t lose to,” Sink said.
For that reason, Wake Forest-Rolesville coach Reggie Lucas isn’t highlighting any games on the Cougars’ schedule.
“Every game for me is so intense,” he said. “On each team you have talent, so every night is such a solid contest.”
Leesville Road went undefeated in the regular season last year en route to the conference championship.
This year’s team will replace the conference’s co-Player of the Year quarterback Austin Berrios, but the Pride will play the same type of football, coach Chad Smothers said.
Sanderson returns many starters from its winless team last year but will be without quarterback Evan Parker, who will play his senior season at Leesville Road.
Heritage, which fielded its first varsity team last season, will have another milestone this year. The school, which opened in 2010, will have its first class of seniors.
Coach Jason McGeorge has his entire team returning – a group of players who have grown with the program – but the Huskies, who went 3-8 last year, are still a start-up program.
First-year coach Mike Massey will take over an Enloe team that went 2-9 last year, and Millbrook coach Clarence Inscore is looking to make adjustments coming off of his team’s 6-6 season.
“We have a lot of returning kids, but they have to be bigger and better this year,” Inscore said. “We’ve got great football in this area. You look at the runs that Leesville and Wakefield and Garner have made, and what makes those teams great is they have some guys up front that have good size, but they’re also very physical and aggressive. ... That’s the mental attitude we’re trying to bring back.”
Games to watch
• Sept. 28: Wakefield at Leesville Road: The first of the meeting of the league’s preseason Big Three. The winner will have a huge advantage in the Cap Eight regular-season race. Leesville won 68-57 in 2011.
• Oct. 5: Wake Forest-Rolesville at Wakefield: Wakefield will be the first of the three to complete their games with the other two expected league powers. Wake Forest won 14-13 last season.
• Oct. 26: Leesville Road at Wake Forest-Rolesville: Two of the league’s preseason elite collide. The conference title and a high playoff seeding might be at stake. Leesville won in the regular season 41-16 and topped the Cougars 49-20 two weeks later.