RALEIGH — Wakefield coach Rod Sink thought his Wolverines team might finish in the middle of the paclk of a competitive Cap Eight conference this year.
There were questions looming around the team, particularly how Wakefield would play under first-year quarterback Evan Brabrand.
Those questions were answered Friday, as the Wolverines defeated defending Cap Eight champion Leesville Road, 34-31.
The win gave Wakefield (10-1, 6-1 Cap Eight) its first outright conference title since 2005, when the Wolverines were undefeated in the then-Cap Seven.
I cant give enough credit to Leesville, Brabrand said after the back-and-fourth game. Theyre a heck of team and they came out and they gave us a battle. At the end I had faith in my guys ... There was no question. It was yes, we can do it.
The win gives the Wolverines a boost of momentum heading into the state playoffs.
The game lived up to be a battle between the two teams that entered the matchup with one conference loss each.
We knew what we were playing for, and if youre a fan of football you couldnt ask for anything better, Wakefield coach Rod Sink said of the finish for the conference championship. This is what its all built up to be. ... Its absolutley amazing and emotions are high and low everywhere.
This is an amazing accomplishment for this crew, he said. Coming in I thought wed be middle of the pack... The way the season played out we just kept fighting, clawing and never gave up.
The teams combined for six second-half touchdowns, three with came in the final three minutes of the game.
Down 14-7 at the half, Wakefield scored on its first two drives of the second half to take its first lead of the game, but Leesville countered. Leesville led 31-27 after a one-yard score by Malcolm Hitchock with 1:32 remaining in the fourth quarter.
When the Wolverines answered with an Evan Brabrand to Nick Dennis 24-yard score with 50 seconds left on the clock, Leesville Road (8-3, 5-2) tried to counter again.
The Pride came up with a fourth-and-10 conversion with 22 seconds left to stay alive, and with three seconds remaining, Leesville senior Malcolm Hitchcock threw a high ball into the right side of the end zone. Braxton Berrios came away with the ball, but the score was called off for an illegal shift penalty on the Pride.
A final untimed Leesville Road down was knocked away by Wakefield to secure the win.
They said that we were not set. Ill have to look at film before I can comment on that, said Leesville Roac coach Chad Smothers. They called the penalty and it took the touchdown off the board. It would have won the game ... Its tough. Theres no way I can tell you shake it off and dont let it get to you. Its supposed to get to you and you should be hurt if you care, and they do. But youve got to move on. You cant let this game beat you twice. Weve got the playoffs and its a brand new season.