Wake Forest builds on experience as 8 defensive starters return

cgrant@newsobserver.comAugust 18, 2013 

  • High school countdown

    25. Clayton

    24. South Granville

    23. Bunn

    22. Chapel Hill

    21. Orange

    20. Northern Durham

    19. Southeast Raleigh

    18. Fuquay-Varina

    17. Athens Drive

    16. Wakefield

    15. Holly Springs

    14. Triton

    13. Green Hope

    12. Knightdale

    11. South Johnston

    10. Southern Durham

    9. Cardinal Gibbons

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    6. Heritage

    5. Middle Creek

    4. Wake Forest

    3. Hillside

    2. Coming Tuesday

    1. Coming Tuesday

Wake Forest High has dropped “Rolesville” from its name, but the Cougars football program is looking to continue its tradition.

“We haven't talked about that a whole lot,” coach Reggie Lucas said. “It's been business as usual. We all know it's a name change. We know it's Wake Forest and not Wake Forest-Rolesville and we're going to miss that Rolesville part, but ... we didn't change our uniforms, we didn't change our offense, and we didn't change our defense.”

Wake Forest went 9-3 overall (5-2 Cap Eight) before falling 40-38 to Wakefield in the first round of the NCHSAA 4A playoffs last year.

The Cougars averaged nearly 36 points, holding opponents to fewer than 18.

Lucas looks for that same defensive pressure for the Cougars to be successful this year.

“We always tell our kids we are expected to play great defense if we're going to win,” he said.

Wake Forest returns eight defensive starters, including sophomore tackle Dexter Lawrence and junior lineman Antwan Terry, and three secondary starters.

“We have that experience and the expectation is for those guys to play well,” Lucas said.

The Cougars pounded the ball with their ground game last season, rushing for more than 260 yards per game.

Standout junior Bryce Love (8.8 yards per carry and 86.9 rushing yards per game) returns, but Lucas also expects production from senior Devante Reynolds (6.35 yards per carry and 52.8 per game) and junior Jamal Sweet, who is moving up from JV.

“I think we need to run the ball to be successful, but we can pass the ball more with (quarterback) Mack Moore,” he said.

Moore, a junior, moved in to the Cougars' quarterback spot midway through the 2012 season.

Dezmond Clanton, Brooks Cunningham and Jamal Sweet are also expected to be key contributors on offense, but Lucas wants more players to be able to step up big for the Cougars.

“We want to stay healthy and develop depth at each position,” Lucas said. “That's vital for us. We're returning eight players on defense, but I don't know if we have eight guys that are ready to jump in behind them. Same thing on offense, we're very thin. … If we can stay healthy, the key for us is playing solid defense. We don't want to put pressure on the offense that they feel like they have to go out and score 30 to 40 points a night.”

Grant: 919-829-4538

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