There’s a moment in the season where age doesn’t matter anymore. That moment has passed for Heritage linebacker Drake Thomas.
To start the game, the sophomore scooped up a fumble and ran it in from 30 yards out. To close it out, he shifted to running back and pounded host Pinecrest on the ground, moving the chains repeatedly to the tune of eight carries for 75 yards for a 25-22 Heritage victory.
“He ain’t no sophomore, he’s a grown man out there,” Heritage coach Dewayne Washington said. “I can’t say enough about him. He’s a special kid.”
The Huskies’ most highly-recruited players are juniors Ricky Person, who plays mostly running back but may project as a better linebacker or safety in college, Duke quarterback recruit Gunnar Holmberg and defensive end Joe Kane.
But one of the biggest reasons Heritage is in the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA football playoffs for the first time is Thomas.
Listed as 6-foot, 215 pounds, he doesn’t shy away from contact as a bruising runner (339 yards rushing), nor as a linebacker (103 tackles this year, 45 as a freshman) for a Huskies defense that has allowed just 10.6 points per game this year.
The most points Heritage gave up this season were to crosstown foe Wake Forest in a 26-13 loss. At the time, both teams entered the game 7-0 overall.
It was the biggest game yet between the two schools, but its reign is short-lived with Heritage (11-2) visiting the Cougars (13-0) this Friday in the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA playoffs in what’s being called “The Battle of the Forest.”
“We’ll definitely have to play better and make some more stops,” Washington said.