2017 NAC 6 Football Preview
Those who have passed by our new office on S. White Street may have seen the above image on our TV monitor in the window. The question posed reflects the feelings of many Wake Forest residents who get a rise of attending high school football games on Friday nights. Luckily, the wait is almost over as we are within three weeks of opening night. This year will be a little different than fans are used to, as the Cougars and Huskies prepare to compete in the all-new NAC 6 conference.
Previously, Wake Forest, Heritage, and Wakefield were members of the Cap-8 conference with Raleigh-based schools including Leesville Road and Millbrook. Starting this year, the entire North Carolina High School Athletic Association has been realigned into all new conferences. The NAC 6, which stands for Northern Athletic Conference, includes Rolesville, Knightdale, and Corinth Holders high schools in addition to the Huskies, Cougars, and Wolverines. The truth is that no one is exactly sure how this all new conference will fare as these schools are a completely different group with different strengths and weaknesses that local fans are used to.
Ultimately, it is a pretty safe bet that the NAC 6 will be a strong football conference. The reason? The defending state champs Wake Forest and Heritage are expected to be two of the top teams in eastern NC. Having two really strong teams is usually enough for a conference to be considered “good”. However, there are other story lines outside of these two teams that are worth following.
Prior to this season, Rolesville was a member of the Greater Neuse River Conference. The Rams have had a pretty good start to their football program since opening in 2013. In their third year (2015), they made the playoffs. Last year, the program had a change at head coach and went 4-7 overall. Despite the step back, Rolesville has a lot to look forward to this season after last year’s JV team went 8-2. The Rams should contend for the playoffs once again.
Wakefield will be without longtime coach Rod Sink this season. Coach Sink stepped down after last season to spend more time with his family. Replacing him is Brandon Kelley, an up and coming coach who previously spent time working with schools in Virginia. The Wolverines also lost starting quarterback Matt McKay to NC State. There is a lot of intrigue surrounding the Wolverines as they approach this new era.
Typically, Knightdale has a good amount of talent across their roster. Recently, they have not had too much success but that could change quickly depending on the circumstances. Knightdale has a certified stud at tight end in Drew Tuazama. The senior is mulling offers from Florida State, Miami (FL), Ole Miss and more.
Corinth Holders is jumping up from the 3A level to the 4A level this season. For those unaware, the short version is they will now play in a conference with the some of state’s top attended schools. It remains to be seen how they adapt to the top level in NC high school sports. Last year the Pirates had a 3-9 record on varsity and an 0-8 record on JV.
Wake Forest brings back 17 of 22 starters from their 4AA State Champion team a year ago. Let that set in. Of the 17 returners, 10 are offensive players. The highly recruited running back Devon Lawrence and very underrated runner Marquis Dunn will headline the explosive Cougar offense once again. Starting quarterback Chris James and talented outside threats Lex Goodwin and John Jiles also return. Defensively, the Cougars are poised to be solid. Despite losing good players like Xach Gill (UNC) and Darius Hodge (Marshall), the Cougars bring back many contributors like Javon Terry (UNC commit) and Jadacus Logan. Fans should not expect Reggie Lucas’ defensive unit to make much of a step back.
The Huskies of Heritage High School had their best football season ever last year. The team finished 11-3 and advanced to the 4AA quarterfinals where they lost to their crosstown foes. This year, the Huskies return three ACC commits in running back Ricky Person (NC State), quarterback Gunnar Holmberg (Duke), and defensive lineman Joe Kane (Virginia Tech). In addition, they received a defensive end transfer in Joseph Boletepeli (deciding between a bevy of ACC schools and some SEC) and return highly recruited junior linebacker Drake Thomas (offers from Michigan, UNC, etc.). As always, the question surrounding Heritage will be the team’s depth or lack thereof, particularly at receiver and linebacker.
- Wake Forest
- Corinth Holders