Nights like Friday are exactly what Sanderson signed up for when it hired Ben Kolstad as head coach in 2013. There was tough, between-the-tackles running mixed in with disciplined, assignment-based defense and all-around solid special teams play.
The Spartans defeated North Raleigh rival Millbrook 28-14 for the first time since 2006. Kolstad, in his fourth year, has guided his team to the most wins since going 9-3 in 1998. The Spartans (8-3, 4-3), long a cellar-dweller in the Cap-8 4A Conference standings, will take third.
“It’s been a long process,” Kolstad said. “We’ve got great kids, we’ve got great support here and it’s just taken time. I’ve had these guys since they were freshmen and they’ve bought in.”
Flashing back to 2013, when Kolstad left a successful run at Cary, Sanderson was considered one of the hardest places to win in the Triangle.
Now, Sanderson could have a home playoff game in two weeks.
“God led me to it – a series of things happened. I had a lot of respect for our athletics director Tony Lewis and I needed a new challenge,” Kolstad said. “It’s not about me. It’s about the kids buying in, the coaches fighting and doing what they had to do and everything happening together all at once.”
Milbrook (7-4, 4-3) had just gotten its passing offense rolling on a 68-yard touchdown connection from Ford Werness to Tyler Snead (3 catches, 83 yards) when Sanderson’s Tyrell Ford returned a kickoff 94 yards to answer and make it 14-7.
BY THE NUMBERS
208: Yards rushing by Sanderson’s Trent Pennix on 34 carries. His longest of the night was a 61-yard scamper to break open a scoreless game. Alim McNeil had the other TD run and Jacob Feinstein caught a 15-yard TD pass from Justin Dunn.
53: Yards rushing by Millbrook’s Larry Rountree III. He was averaging 110.5 per game entering the contest. Sanderson also notched three interceptions to effectively take away the passing game.