Millbrook’s offense is pretty much set this season.
The Wildcats scored nearly 30 points a game last year, and not much is expected to change as many starters prepare for another season together.
In 2014, Millbrook gained more than 2,000 passing and rushing yards, respectively, before ending 11-3 with a third-round playoff appearance.
While the Wildcats graduated the bulk of its starting defense, they’ll return four starting offensive linemen to play in front of senior quarterback Reid Herring — a third-year starter.
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“He’s got all the talent in the world. We’ve just got to make sure we protect him up front,” Millbrook coach Clarence Inscore said of Herring, a three-sport athlete who has committed to East Carolina. “Having those guys back in front of him should give him some confidence.”
In all, Millbrook lost eight defensive starters. The Cats will return eight starters on the other side of the ball, including senior receiver Anthony Bowman. WR A.J. Rogerson was expected to contribute early but he announced on Twitter at the end of July an ACL injury will keep him benched for at least four weeks.
Jonte Leaston led all receivers with 770 yards last year, while Bowman had 208 with three touchdowns.
Marcus Marshall ran for 2,198 yards and 30 touchdowns last season to capture a majority of the team’s rushing yards.
“He’s gone,” Inscore said of Millbrook’s former star running back, “but we’ve got some young running backs that are going to step up.”
Donovan Darity was the only underclassmen to score a rushing touchdown last season.
The Wildcats fell deep in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA playoffs in 2014, outed by Wake Forest in a 28-21 decision. They finished second in the conference last season.
Millbrook won’t see the Cougars, the reigning Cap-8 champion, until Oct. 2.
“We try not to make one game bigger than the other,” Inscore said. “We try to take it week by week. The biggest game right now is the next one, which is East Wake - the first game on the schedule.”
Millbrook is 6-4 against East Wake over the last 10 years, which included a four-game winning streak for the Wildcats.
Contributors: WR Anthony Bowman, QB Reid Herring
Expected strength: Veteran offense
Question mark: Defense
Player they’ll miss: RB Marcus Marshall. He ran for 2,198 yards and 30 rushing TDs last season. For good measure, he caught one TD pass and collected 194 receiving yards.
The number: 4. The number of times Wake Forest has eliminated Millbrook from the playoffs in the last five years
The quote: Inscore on first day of contact: “I thought we were pretty aggressive coming out. I like that fact that we weren’t afraid to hit somebody. Was it pretty? Not at all times, no, it wasn’t pretty, but the effort was there.”
Game to watch: Oct. 2 at Wake Forest. There was only one time in the last five years Wake Forest did not eliminate Millbrook from the state playoffs. It was 2010, when the Wildcats posted a three-win season and missed the postseason. These teams have a history.
Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan
Past five years
2014: 11-3 (6-1), 4AA third round
2013: 10-4 (5-2), 4AA third round
2012: 3-8 (2-5)
2011: 6-6 (3-4), 4AA first round
2010: 7-5 (2-4), 4AA first round