Wakefield High football quarterback Evan Brabrand didn’t stand around holding a chart while watching former Wolverines quarterback Connor Mitch set state passing records.
While Mitch became one of the most prolific passers in N.C. High School Athletic Association history, Brabrand, Mitch’s backup, was belting people.
Brabrand was the junior varsity quarterback as a freshman but was moved to varsity as a sophomore two years ago. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior started at middle linebacker. He’d spend a little time throwing in practice, but his primary role was linebacker.
The return to quarterback this year may be a tougher adjustment physically than mentally.
“Earlier in the year whenever I ran, I wanted to put my shoulder down and hit somebody,” Brabrand said. “The coaches keep saying that is not such a good idea.”
Brabrand has to keep the game plan in mind as a quarterback.
“You have to see the overall picture,” he said. “You have to understand what is happening around you.”
Dexter Cooley, the Wakefield athletic director and boys’ basketball coach, said Brabrand is one of the best athletes in the school. Brabrand is an outstanding baseball player in addition to being a three-year varsity starter in football.
“But he also is an outstanding young man,” Cooley said. “He’s a leader.”
Leadership may be Brabrand’s biggest asset. He thought that if he had any edge in the quarterback competition this fall, it was in leadership. He was a defensive captain in 2012. “But I knew I had to earn the job,” he said. “To me, it was a wide-open competition to become the quarterback.”
Wakefield coach Rod Sink said Brabrand “is a fine leader who expects a lot from himself and others around him. This has been one of the key components that have helped us become the team we are today.”
Brabrand said being a leader is something he works at on and off the field.
“If you’re the leader, we have to lead,” he said. “You want to be doing the right things. You want everybody to be doing the right thing.”
This year’s Wakefield team has answered a lot of questions. Last year’s club outscored other teams, with the defense allowing 29.5 points per game. The Wolverines’ 11-2 season ended in a 76-34 loss to Garner.
“We heard a lot of talk about Connor being gone and our defense not being very good,” Brabrand said. “We’ve had some guys step up, and we’re playing with a little chip on our shoulder.”
Brabrand had never thrown a pass in a varsity game before the season-opener against Holly Springs. He completed 20 of 34 passes for 286 yards and four touchdowns. He didn’t have an interception in the 40-28 win.
Braband has passed for 2,720 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Brabrand and the Wolverines had to rally Friday night, with Brabrand running in the winning score to defeat Green Hope, 14-13, in the first round of the NCHSAA 4AA East playoffs. He was 8-of-18 for 101 yards.
“There have been some ups and downs this season, but so far the season has been about as good as we could have hoped for,” Brabrand said.
Brabrand helped lead Wakefield (11-1, 6-1 Cap Eight) to its first outright conference title since 2005 and a top seed in the state tournament.
Sink said Brabrand had earned his respect.
“I have a lot of respect for a young man who takes on the responsibility of probably the most difficult position on our team and secondly has to follow someone who played the position very well,” Sink said. “He has handled himself very well this season making the shoes he fills his own.”