Wake Forest High senior linebacker Garratt Brannock believes the Cougars will be ready to play their best game of the season on Saturday in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA championship game against Charlotte Mallard Creek.
“We’ve worked all year for this – to get back to this game,” Brannock said. “We’re always prepared, always focused, but this week we need to take it up a level.”
Wake Forest coach Reggie Lucas said Brannock spoke to his teammates minutes before a 27-13 semifinal win against Garner last week.
“Garratt is just an all-round, great kid, a real leader on our team,” Lucas said. “He spoke to the team before the Garner game about it being their last time playing together at Trentini Stadium and how special that was.”
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It was special for Brannock. His sister, cousins, and many friends graduated from Wake Forest. His brother goes there now.
“I love it here, I really do. I love going to school here, playing football, everything,” Brannock said. “With the support the community shows for the school and the football team, it’s just a special place. We just couldn’t lose our last game here last Friday.”
“That’s the maturity Garratt shows,” Lucas said. “He’s always prepared and focused in class and then shows up at football, prepared and ready to go. On the field, he’s a good captain for us, not just with his play, but he will also speak up and help teammates. And you can see the work he has done in the weight room. He lifts with our stronger players.”
The competitive side of Brannock, a 5-foot-9, 190-pound linebacker, comes out when he gets on the field with talented players.
“Playing with guys like Bryce Love … is fun; they are just so talented. And with our defensive line being so good, the linebackers are able to flow to the ball and make plays. It’s awesome,” Brannock said.
“And like playing Garner last week. They were the most talented team we’ve seen this year, and they were aggressive. That’s fun.”
But now the Cougars will face Mallard Creek, which thumped the Cougars 59-21 in the state championship game last year. Brannock was a backup most of last year, but he started the state final as the Cougars went to a 4-4 defense.
“Mallard Creek is a great team, a talented team, and last year we killed ourselves with some turnovers,” Brannock said. “Against a team like that, you’ve got to know what their strengths and weaknesses are and what ours are, too.
“But we’ve got a special bond with the players, coaches, the whole school and community. I really love playing with these guys and our coaches. This is what we’ve worked for all year.”