Wake Forest's Norman Cade looks forward to title game

tstevens@newsobserver.comDecember 12, 2013 

  • More information

    NCHSAA FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

    Friday

    High Point Andrews (13-1) vs. Monroe (13-2), 7:30 p.m., at UNC’s Kenan Stadium, 2AA

    Saturday

    Southwest Onslow (12-3) vs. Shelby (11-4), 11 a.m., at UNC’s Kenan Stadium, 2A

    Plymouth (14-0) vs. Murphy (12-3), 11 a.m., at Winston-Salem’s BB&T Field, 1A

    Havelock (15-0) vs. Concord (15-0), 11 a.m., at N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium, 3A

    Warsaw Kenan (14-0) vs. West Montgomery (14-1), 3 p.m., at Winston-Salem’s BB&T Field, 1AA

    Scotland (15-0) vs. Greensboro Dudley (14-0), 3 p.m., at N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium, 4A

    Southern Durham (13-2) vs. Shelby Crest (14-1), 7 p.m., at Winston-Salem’s BB&T Field, 3AA

    Wake Forest (12-3) vs. Charlotte Mallard Creek (15-0), 7 p.m., at N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium, 4AA

    Admission is $10 per site. If you leave the facility, you must pay to re-enter. Parking is $10.

    Umbrellas, fireworks, artificial or electronic noise makers, or food or beverages are not allowed. Bags are subject to being searched.

    N.C. State: Tickets are $10. Parking is $10. Gates open at 9:30 a.m.

    Winston-Salem: Tickets are $10. Parking is $10. Gates open at 10 a.m.

    UNC: Tickets are $10.

Wake Forest High’s last trip to the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA football championship was a big disappointment to senior linebacker Norman Cade.

He had made the varsity as a 5-foot-8, 140-pound freshman defensive back, but missed the title game with a sprained meniscus.

“I wasn’t going to play anyway,” he said. “I was just this little freshman, but not being with the team was a disappointment. From that day until now, my goal was to go back to the finals.”

Cade, now a 5-10, 185-pound outside linebacker and a stalwart of the defense, will reach that goal Saturday when Wake Forest (12-3) plays Charlotte Mallard Creek (15-0) in the 4AA final at N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium at 7 p.m.

The Cougars are pretty big underdogs against Mallard Creek, which has been ranked among the state’s best teams since the preseason. Teams from western North Carolina, often Charlotte-area teams, have dominated the 4AA final.

Cade is comfortable with his team, though.

“Winning is doable,” he said. “We know what we have to do.”

Wake Forest’s season has been like a ride on Space Mountain at Disney World – thrills, unexpected turns, sudden dips, hurtling forward without being sure if an ascent or descent is ahead.

“A real roller coaster ride,” Cade said.

Big highs came with a win at Wilmington Hoggard (33-23) and against Millbrook (31-25). Lows were losses to Wakefield (32-26), Leesville Road (21-19) and Sanderson (14-10).

The playoffs have been one test after another. The Cougars had a defensive win at Southern Pines Pinecrest (17-10) and narrowly dodged elimination when Millbrook missed a field goal in the third overtime of a 27-24 four-overtime win. A week ago, the Cougars nipped Middle Creek 24-23.

The entire season has seemed to be one critical play after another. Coach Reggie Lucas said he almost laughs now when he hears someone say it will take the Cougars’ best game of the season to defeat the Mavericks.

“We haven’t been holding anything back. We’ve had to play our best game of the season the last four weeks and for about half of our schedule,” Lucas said. “We’re playing as hard as we can.

“It is like when someone asks me what we’re doing different because it is the state finals. Nothing. We prepare and practice as well as we can every week. If there was something extra we could do, we would have been doing it already.”

The past two weeks were intense. Wake Forest’s Zach Coates kicked a 29-yard field goal at the end of the fourth overtime for the win against Millbrook in the third round. Coates kicked a 34-yard field goal for the winning points in the win against Middle Creek.

Cade will play a key role in Saturday’s title game. He is the club’s leading tackler and leads with four sacks, but the defensive scheme isn’t designed for a handful of players to make the bulk of the tackles. One of his biggest roles is to force runners back to the inside, where there should be more defenders.

The Cougars have held 10 opponents to less than 150 yards rushing and give up an average 109 yards rushing and 17.2 points per game.

Mallard Creek averages 50.5 points and has scored 56 or more in three of four playoff games. Lawrence Pittman ran for 315 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s 56-14 win against Matthews Butler.

The last time Wake Forest reached the final, the night Cade was hobbling around, the Cougars were pounded by Butler 44-0.

Mallard Creek might be as impressive as the Butler club, whose nucleus won 4AA titles in 2009, 2010 and 2012.

“But their kids are the same ages as our kids,” Lucas said. “Mallard Creek is a high school football team, an outstanding high school football team. But we earned our way here. We are coming out of a conference that had some great teams. We’ve played outstanding high school teams before.”

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service