Glen Dillard coached in virtual anonymity until last Friday.
He coached the running backs at Wake Forest High and was the head junior varsity football coach.
Dillard, a social studies teacher, became the point person for the Cougars on Friday night, taking media questions after the Cougars pounded Leesville Road 42-13 in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA playoffs.
Wake County Schools personnel was on hand to make sure comments didn’t stray to the largest elephant in historic Trentini Stadium, head coach Reggie Lucas’ suspension as head coach after he was arrested Wednesday night and charged with driving while impaired.
But Dillard indirectly talked about how the Wake Forest players handled the issue with their typical game-by-game attitude.
“It’s kind of bred into them to where they’re programed to go one step at a time, and that’s something you’ve got to do if you’re going to have success in the playoffs,” Dillard said.
The players don’t know when, or if, their coach will return. But they know they get to play another football game. Most of the seniors know the next loss will be the last time they buckle a helmet into place.
That doesn’t change regardless of who coaches.
Lucas has been one of the state’s most successful young coaches in the state. The program has played for the NCHSAA 4AA title two times in the past four years and is undefeated this season. This may be the best team ever at the school.
But the challenges would be great even with Lucas.
Southern Pines Pinecrest, whose two losses were to Scotland County and Richmond County, ripped through the first round of the playoffs by pounding Middle Creek 38-9. The Mustangs made some early mistakes, fumbling a kickoff and giving up an interception return for another score, but Pinecrest looked very good.
The temptation is to say that Wake Forest’s best hope for further success is its defense.
The Wake Forest offense aids the defense with a balanced Wing-T attack that often controls the ball and the clock.
Ultimately, though, the team’s greatest strength has been the ability to focus on what it can control. Lucas’ program has been that way since he was named head coach in 2009.
The school was housed at Heritage High that year as extensive renovations were made at Wake Forest.
Every piece of football equipment was packed away. The team couldn’t do offseason work at the old school or at the new school. There were major distractions, but Wake Forest finished 14-1.
Lucas said many times the key to that season was focusing on what could be controlled. The same is true this year.