RALEIGH — Millbrook knocked off top-seeded Wakefield 23-16 on Friday night to advance to the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA East playoffs for the first time since 2007.
“This group reminds me so much of that group,” said Millbrook coach Clarence Inscore, comparing this year’s team to the last Wildcats team to make it to this point. “They’re close-knit. They really got together in the offseason and said, ‘We’ve got to dedicate ourselves. We want to turn things around. We want to do something special.’ It already is a special group, but hopefully we’re not done.”
Millbrook never trailed, with junior Marcus Marshall (221 yards on 40 carries) handling the load of the Wildcats’ offense.
Marshall’s 6-yard touchdown put Millbrook ahead by 10 with 8:17 remaining in the game, but Wakefield responded with quarterback Evan Brabrand (15 of 30 for 179 yards passing) punching in his second touchdown of the game with 5:06 to play to keep the Wolverines alive.
Kicker Jarrett Cervi came up big for the Wildcats, booting in his third field goal of the night with just more than a minute remaining, to help Millbrook (10-3, 5-2 Cap Eight) defeat another fellow Cap Eight team to advance.
“Jarrett Cervi’s a heck of a kicker,” Inscore said of the senior who knocked in 36-, 46- and 38-yarders. “He’s been hampered this year a little bit with some injuries, but boy did he come up big tonight. We have a lot of confidence in him. Our guys up front did a heck of a job giving him time to kick. Our team has been one of those resilient teams and battled all year. We’ve lost three close football games this year and I think it’s made us tougher.”
Wakefield (11-2, 6-1 Cap Eight), the Cap Eight champion, dropped just two games this season, both against Millbrook.
“At the beginning of the season there were a lot of question marks to be answered and we answered a lot of questions,” said Wakefield coach Rod Sink. “We played hard ... I just think we just shot ourselves in the foot in the first half. It’s kind of hard to get some momentum going there.”
Millbrook will face another conference foe while hosting No. 12 Wake Forest (10-3, 4-3 Cap Eight) next week. Wake Forest won the regular season meeting 31-25.
“That just speaks volumes about our conference and how strong it is, and we’re just excited to we have another home game,” Inscore said. “My Thanksgiving plans would be to be with my team and play football, and I’m excited to do that.”