Eastern Wake: Sports

Column: East Wake, Knightdale similar – at different times

It’s interesting to compare this year’s East Wake football team to last year’s Knightdale crew.

The Warriors are peaking with seniors filling a wide range of key positions, much like the Knights of 2013.

Take a look at the first eight weeks of each team’s seasons, and the similarities are eerie.

Take away East Wake’s 12-point loss at raucous Garner on Sept. 26, and you’ve got a near-mirror image – record-wise – of the Knights of old.

East Wake’s only other loss this season was to Cap-8-leading Wake Forest. The only loss for the 2013 Greater Neuse River 4A Conference-winning Knights was to Cap-8 Heritage.

Through eight weeks last year, double-threat quarterback Marquavious Johnson managed six scores and 499 yards on the ground. Current East Wake quarterback Tripp Harrington rushed for six touchdowns and 421 yards.

Knightdale’s 2013 star running back Nate Harvey finished the first eight games with 852 yards and eight trips to the end zone. Current East Wake power back Damontay Rhem has 945 yards and nine scores.

The one stark difference between the two teams is found in the passing game.

Johnson was normally a run-first quarterback, while Harrington has been used at a more dynamic capacity. The result: 519 yards through the air through eight weeks for Johnson, and 1,668 for Harrington.

East Wake would do well to note the comparisons and consider what they might portend for a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2009.

East Wake defense: East Wake coach John Poulnott praised the defensive work of his club and of West Johnston after the Warriors’ 28-14 Greater Neuse 4A victory over the Wildcats on Oct. 17. Neither team scored in the second half.

“Hats off to both defenses in the second half,” Poulnott said. “They made both offenses earn every yard.”

With the win, East Wake broke into The News & Observer high school poll at No. 9, returning to a list it was a regular part of earlier in the season. The Warriors’ resume is impressive, with losses to No. 2 Wake Forest and No. 4 Garner and victories over No. 10 Heritage and No. 12 Millbrook.

East Wake’s remaining games are at Harnett Central and at home against Knightdale.

Community service: The N.C. High School Athletic Association is sponsoring a community service award. The Commissioner’s Cup will recognize two teams or schools in each of the NCHSAA’s four classifications for service in their communities.

The Cup winners receive $1,000 each.

Entries will consist of a one-minute video that will be submitted to the NCHSAA.

Deadline for project submission is April 1, 2015.

Staff writer Tim Stevens contributed.