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by Clellie Allen
WAKE FOREST — There couldn’t have been a better way for Wake Forest High School football coach Reggie Lucas to celebrate his 50th win in just four short years: The Cougars deftly handed the Cary Imps their first defeat, 48-14.
What made the win classic Reggie Lucas wasn’t just that his team made numerous zinger plays — a 50-yard touchdown on the second play of the game, a 34-yard pass reception for a score, an 89-yard touchdown after forcing Cary to turn the ball over on downs, an 86-yard kick return for a score and another 53-yard pass play for a touchdown; or that his starting defense, one he seemed a little concerned about in the preseason, completely shut out the Imps in the first half, and only allowed one touchdown in the second half before handing off play to the second string who also only allowed one; or that his team accomplished their offensive goal of scoring at least 28 points per game.
What made it classic Lucas, was that he quickly pointed to his staff and also to his players for keeping to their preseason goals of things like allowing opposing teams 14 points maximum or for his kicker getting the ball deep on kickoffs (Junior Zack Coats has put the ball in the end zone twice this season on kickoff).
“I (am) embarrassed,” Lucas said after being singled out for recognition after the game. “It’s an accomplishment of the kids in our program and I’ve been fortunate enough to be the coach.
“But the kids, and the coaching staff, really deserve the 50 wins.”
Lucas is known for his understated approach to coaching, focusing on solid fundamentals, taking each game one at a time, helping his team worry more about their own play than scouting out opponents and always, always, bringing everything back to the team, on what they can do, as a unit.
That focus helped the Cougars Friday night put up 288 yards rushing against a tough Cary team that so far had only allowed opponents little more than 50 yards on the ground per game.
“We didn’t do anything different,” Lucas said of their preparation. “But the kids have been trying to nail their assignments down in practice ... and it worked out.”
Bryce Love, who scored four of five rushing touchdowns, including the 86-yard kickoff return and the 89-yard rush for a touchdown, epitomized Lucas’ focus on the team. He pointed to his offensive line as making those plays possible.
“Devonte Reynolds had my block off the edge — the whole line was there. I just took what they gave me,” Love said. “Everybody finds someone to block and I find somewhere to run off of their blocks.”
Lucas acknowledged that coaching high school football comes with pressure that doesn’t go away even when the team does well.
“You know what the coaching carousel is like … you wouldn’t think that it’s that way in high school football, but it is. So everyone feels pressure on Friday night.”
But even as he acknowledges it, he does so with a shrug — it’s just part of the job, one he’s not going to focus on too much. He’s too busy preparing his team for the next round of play, taking it one game at a time.