RALEIGH — A year ago, Millbrook finished the season with a 3-8 record (2-5 Cap Eight), placing the Wildcats fifth in their conference and short of the playoffs.
Though that was the first time the program missed the state playoffs since 2006, head coach Clarence Inscore said the season served as a learning period for several players. That experience is proving useful as Millbrook advances in the playoffs this year.
“We had a lot of injuries last year, and a lot of young guys got a lot of valuable playing experience, and it’s paying off for us this year,” Inscore said.
The Wildcats returned 22 players from last year’s team, including junior leading rusher Marcus Marshall (57 yards per game, six touchdowns) and senior receiver Brian Miller (25.8 yards per game, six touchdowns).
A new component to the team, however, is sophomore quarterback Reid Herring, who played junior varsity last year.
Herring is among the top passers in the area with 160 yards per game and 22 touchdowns. He completed 12 of 20 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns last week as Millbrook topped Cap Eight foe Leesville Road, 24-21, in the first-round of the NCHSAA 4AA playoffs.
“He is so much beyond a sophomore as far as play is concerned,” Inscore said. “He makes great decisions. He’s got a great arm on him. I love the kid, and he’s got a bright future.”
This year, Millbrook (9-3, 5-2 Cap Eight) is in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2007. That Wildcats team reached the third round.
Millbrook faces Cap Eight champion and 4AA East top seed Wakefield (11-1, 6-1) on Friday
“(The win over Leesville) gives us a bunch of confidence,” Herring said Friday night. “We’ve already beat (Wakefield) this year, but we can’t take them lightly. We’ve still got to come and bring it to them and play with confidence.”
Millbrook gave Wakefield its only loss of the season with a convincing 40-19 decision in October. Wakefield wouldn’t drop another game as the Wolverines went on to top Leesville Road for the conference title. Millbrook finished third.
“We just have a lot more want to,” Herring said of this year’s team. “Our players play with a lot more heart, and we play for each other .”