West Johnston entered Friday’s regular season finale at Knightdale knowing it needed a win to set a school record, with nine victories in a season, and regain momentum heading into the playoffs.
The Wildcats wasted no time taking care of business. A resounding, 56-7 triumph sent West into the postseason with a 9-1 overall record, having finished the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference slate at 6-1.
After their only loss of the season the week before to Garner, a 32-7 drubbing in Benson, the Wildcats were able to refocus and easily handle an outmatched Knights team.
West had a quality night running the ball, with senior Tony Mack accounting for 104 of the team’s 204 yards on the ground. Two of Mack’s 18 carries went for touchdowns – his 19th and 20th rushing scores this season.
Wildcats senior quarterback Andre Wilson also had a two-touchdown night. One came through the air as he passed for 113 yards and the other was among his 10 rushes for 63 yards.
Knightdale, which finished its season at 2-9, 2-5, struggled to move the ball down the field as the Wildcats constantly penetrated the backfield.
Senior quarterback D.J. Conner was the offensive bright spot for the Knights, completing four passes for 43 yards. The Knights’ lone score came on a 75-yard kickoff return by junior Khirell Knight late in the second quarter.
“Overall it was a great team effort,” said West Johnston coach Jimmy Williams. “Any time you can set a school record, a lot of kids are working hard. This is about them and this is about our program.”
THEY SAID IT
“It was a physical game,” said Knightdale defensive coordinator Kevin Park. “They were physical. I felt like we were physical as well, but at the same time they are a senior-heavy team and our youth showed a little bit.”
THREE TO KNOW
Tony Mack, West Johnston: It’s been pretty common to see Mack cross the century mark and score at least twice rushing in games this season, even when he missed second-half playing time with games well in hand.
“I felt great,” Mack said. “We started off a little slower than we expected, but once we started getting everything going and got the ball rolling we started clicking on offense.”
Andre Wilson, West Johnston: Wilson was a dual threat for the Wildcats, leading all players with 173 yards of total offense.
“The game took a lot out of me and I got banged up a little,” Wilson said. “But it’s always good to get nine wins and set school history.”
D.J. Conner, Knightdale: The senior had a respectable performance and attitude in his final game as a Knight.
“I just tried to take in every moment I could, to be honest,” Conner said. “It was the last game of the season, it’s my senior year, I really didn’t care whether we won or lost, I just wanted to play with my brothers for the last time.”
BY THE NUMBERS
8: Total touchdowns for the West Johnston offense
65: Receiving yards for West Johnston senior wide receiver Noah Liles.
2: Touchdowns by West Johnston senior running back Joey Lama.
20: Receiving yards for Knightdale junior wide receiver Joshua Davidson