East Wake’s 50-41 football victory over Harnett Central on Friday night pushed the Warriors to 8-2 overall, easily East Wake’s best record since the 2006 team finished 9-3.
No East Wake team since had won more than four games. The Warriors will be the Greater Neuse 4A Conference’s No. 2 seed and can get a high seed in the playoffs with a home victory over rival Knightdale on Friday.
East Wake’s losses were to teams ranked in the News & Observer’s top five, Wake Forest 27-18, and Greater Neuse champ Garner 33-21.
Since John Poulnott’s first year as coach in 2010, the program has slowly progressed, finishing 2-9, 3-8, 3-8 and 4-7.
This season’s turnaround prompts memories and a great deal of optimism for a program looking to get back to the good old days – the 2002-06 seasons. In that time, East Wake had an appearance in the Eastern Regional final (fourth round of state playoffs) in 2002, produced conference titles in 2002 (14-1) and 2004 (11-1) and never finished worse than 8-4 (2005).
That stretch was preceded by a 6-6 season in 2001 and 3-8 season in 2000.
East Wake’s last trip to the state playoffs was in 2009 – the 14th and final season for coach Jimmy Williams, who is now coach at West Johnston. The Warriors were defeated by Southern Durham in the first round, capping a 4-8 season that yseason.
Poulnott took time to reflect on the season: