The triple-option offense works well with having three factors in its favor: the lead, good blocking and senior leadership.
No wonder Bunn is playing in its first N.C. High School Athletic Association football championship game.
Wildcats offensive linemen Jackson Leggett (left tackle), Dillon Hopkins (left guard) Trevor Gupton (center), Adam Black (right guard), Justin Holder (right tackle) – along with tight end Ian Land – have paved the way for 5,188 yards rushing this year. That’s 345.9 per game.
“All six of those guys are seniors and they’ve been in the weight room,” said venerable coach David Howle. Howle is in his 28th year at the school and 24th as a head coach. He stepped down when his son, Tyler, played at Penn State to watch his games and returned in 2013.
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Bunn’s opponents haven’t had the lead very often because of the decision-making of quarterback Quenten Wright (477 yards rushing, 6 touchdowns) and the balanced rushing attack.
“It’s kind of a blue-collar team. We don’t have many Division I players,” Howle said.
Fullbacks Chris Bumpers (877 yards, 21 TDs) and Devante Caldwell (616 yards, 11 TDs) and wing back Bruce Adams Jr. are (516 yards, 6 TDs) all help take the focus off Tevin Perry. Perry, 5 feet, 7 inches and 165 pounds, is the team’s leading rusher with 2,176 yards and 28 touchdowns.
The senior-led offense is scoring 50.6 points per game. In recent weeks, the defense has showed signs of improvement as well. It was the only question mark for Howle’s team entering the year, which started 1-2 with losses to 3A teams Southern Nash and Fike before the 12 straight wins.
“We’ve gotten a lot better on the defensive side of the ball,” Howle said. “That’s something we’ve worked on. We’ve got a lot of young kids on defense where on offense we brought back 10 starters.”
Much like the upset win over Clinton – which started with a 10-minute TD drive by Bunn – in last week’s 30-29 overtime win in the 2AA East final, the Wildcats will want to avoid playing from behind against Monroe (15-0).
The closest anyone has come to defeating the Redhawks was 3A Weddington, which lost 45-38. In the playoffs, Monroe has beaten teams 55-7, 58-20, 50-7 and 46-6. Many of its players were on the 2013 runner-up championship team. Monroe’s first title appearance was a loss to Clayton in 1989.
Quarterback Zephaniah Wall threw 37 touchdowns in his first 14 games this year and is near the 3,000-yard mark. The defense has posted four shutouts and held six other teams to single-digits. Coach Johnny Sowell has led the Redhawks to a NCHSAA title game before – in boys’ basketball.
“They’ve got athletes in the right places... a very balanced team. We’ll have our hands full,” Howle said.
The hope is that the Redhawks will be saying the same thing on Saturday.