Midtown: Sports

Wakefield defense sparkles in win against Riverside

tstevens@newsobserver.com

New Wakefield football coach Rod Sink was pleased with the Wolverines’ defense in Friday’s 46-21 season-opening victory at Durham Riverside, but he said the offense never found its rhythm.

“The game just seemed slow,” Sink said. “We play better fast. We tried to pick up the pace and play faster, but we never found our rhythm. There is plenty of room for improvement.”

The Wakefield offense was aided by five big plays on special teams, 86- and 47-yard kickoff returns by Mike Shelton, a blocked punt and a pair of high punt snaps that set up the Wolverines in scoring position.

The Wolverines struck quickly with senior quarterback Connor Mitch passing a yard to Chris Ballen for a touchdown with only 68 seconds gone. Mitch completed 21 of 35 passes for 316 yards and four touchdowns. Jordan Fielleteau had eight catches for 110 yards and Ballen taught two scoring passes.

“Connor played well,” Sink said. “He made some good check-offs for some touchdowns. He saw things well, but we never really got flowing on offense.”

Wakefield led 25-7 at the half with Riverside’s touchdown coming on an interception return The Pirates’ offense didn’t score until the fourth period. Wakefield allowed 99 yards rushing and 80 yards passing.

“Defensively, we did a good job,” Sink said. “Xavier Smith played well for us and I could talk about all eight of the defensive linemen that we played. Darnell Thompson, Ryan Anderson, Bylan Knode, really just all of them.”

The game was Sink’s debut as head coach and he said it was a little different.

He coached the Wolverines’ junior varsity in the past, but said he caught himself thinking like a coordinator at times instead of like the head coach.

His pregame talk was basic – protect the ball, get in the right spots on special teams and be aggressive on defense.

And after the game, he was still thinking about the basics.

“We’ve got a lot of things to improve on,” he said.

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