by Becky Kimbrell-Norris
WAKEFIELD—The Wakefield High School Wolverines couldn’t have asked for a better start to their 2013 football season.
They remain unbeaten after defeating a solid Middle Creek team by a score of 34-24 on Friday night.
A 10-point deficit and several penalties — from false starts to unsportsmanlike conduct — didn’t seem to matter as much for the Wolverines, who were able to move the ball offensively and play sound defense at crucial times to get their fourth win of the season.
Middle Creek, however, was trying to fill some vacant positions and played without the services of five starters.
“Wakefield is a good football team and we knew the game would be a challenge,” said Middle Creek coach Michael Castellano. “They ran exactly what we expected them too.”
“I think the key factor in the game was our lack of execution,” he added. “When you allow a good team to make plays, you will not win.”
Wakefield got behind early but kept their composure and took the lead away from the Mustangs for good just seconds before halftime.
“The game could have gone either way but we made the plays when it counted and they didn’t,” said Wakefield coach Rod Sink. “We made some mistakes that hurt us but we didn’t let it get us down and I am pleased with the win.”
“Middle Creek is a quality team that can make big plays,” Sink added.
In methods and makeup, this appears to be a much different Wakefield football team from the past.
Wakefield’s offense got creative and rolled up 547 yards of total offense against a tough Middle Creek team, which had allowed each of their opponents just under 70 yards this season.
Wakefield quarterback Evan Brabrand had 419 yards through the air, which put him over the 1,000 mark for the season. On the ground, the Wolverines churned up 128 yards.
“Our running game was effective,” Sink said. “Evan also did a great job as he’s one who will find ways to make things happen.”
Wakefield’s defense was also relentless.
“Our defense stepped up but it was a total team effort tonight,” said junior defensive back Shawnya Banks. “Our defense is good and we’re playing very confident.”
Sink agreed. “Our defense did make some huge plays in stopping Middle Creek’s offense,” he said. “Some of our players are tough as nails.”
On the opening drive, the Mustangs marched 51 yards and reached the 3-yard line of the Wolverines but had to settle for a 22-yard field goal, thanks to the defensive stops by Wakefield.
“We did a tremendous job keeping them out of the end zone and holding them to just a field goal,” Sink said.
After punting the ball on their first possession, the Wolverines countered with a 63-yard scoring drive when Brabrand threw 10 yards to Nick Dennis with 4:34 left in the first quarter.
Both teams then exchanged punts and Middle Creek put seven more points on the board when freshman Josh Drake ran in from one yard out with 10:41 remaining in the second quarter.
Two minutes later, the Mustangs extended its lead to 17-7 after Terrance White recovered Wakefield’s blocked punt on the Wolverines 20-yard line.
Wakefield, one possession later, controlled the Mustangs front seven during a march, opening up several holes for running back Kelton Whitehead to dart through for big gains.
Whitehead had a part in three of the Wolverine touchdowns; two passing and one rushing, chalking up 156 yards of total offense.
“We knew this game would be tough,” Whitehead said, “especially since they have been effective at stopping the run.”
“When we got down, I wanted to put the team on my back and get the victory,” Whitehead added.
Whitehead busted loose from some Middle Creek defenders and literally dragged others with him for a run down to Middle Creek’s 30-yard line.
Following a couple of completed throws to Jake Butler and Whitehead, the Wolverines found themselves deep in the Mustangs territory at the 11-yard line.
On the next two snaps, an ineligible receiver penalty and a tackle for a loss of yards pushed Wakefield back to the 30-yard line. With a fourth and 16 situation, Brabrand connected with Whitehead and Charles Morris extra point kick pulled the Wolverines to within 17-14 with 4:43 left in the first half.
The Wolverines’ aerial attack complemented the power running and Brabrand kept things going, completing two passes to Josh Lowery, who caught eight passes for 130 yards, and one to Mike Shelton, which set up their third touchdown.
With 13 seconds left before the break, Whitehead caught a pass from Brabrand and Morris’ point after kick put Wakefield in front 21-17 at halftime.
“We knew we could score and Evan starting making some completions and we got things going our way,” Sink said.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Wolverines started another long drive from their own 28-yard line. A completion to Omari Williams and a long run down the sidelines by Brabrand gave Wakefield a fourth and three at the Mustangs 46-yard line.
Whitehead’s run earned them a first down and three plays later, Brabrand threw 18 yards to Butler for his fourth touchdown pass with 4:11 remaining in the third quarter.
Middle Creek’s offense then turned out three first downs to shift the field position and give its defense a rest.
With 11:43 left in the game, the Mustangs narrowed Wakefield’s lead to four on a 7-yard touchdown run by Elijah Perry.
The Wolverines responded and it took 80 yards and six plays before Whitehead ran into the end zone from seven yards out.
Wakefield will begin Cap 8 Conference play tomorrow night when they host Sanderson, 2-2. Kick-off is at 7 p.m.