From the Sideline

Column: Warriors need just a little more consistency

September 19, 2013 

Evan Finch’s five receptions for 171 yards and four touchdowns against Heritage on Friday the 13th were scary good.

Equally impressive, East Wake quarterback Trent Evans scattered 170 more yards through the air to other players not named Finch. With his 20-for-30 passing mark plus the 38 yards he picked up on the ground, Evans finished with 379 all-purpose yards.

Yet the Warriors lost by 6.

They lost another game by 6 points, to Millbrook, the week before. In both games, East Wake fell behind by a substantial amount – 14 points to the Wildcats and 27 points to the Huskies – before rallying within one possession by the final whistle.

It kind of makes you wonder if the Warriors are struggling to get the gears turning early in games, or if other teams are becoming too comfortable once they take a sizable lead, or some combination of the two.

It appears none of the above was the case against Millbrook – a game where the Wildcats’ second score came in the third quarter. East Wake moved the ball early, reaching as far as the Millbrook 3-yard-line in the first quarter before the Wildcats’ defense held on fourth down to cut the drive short.

Also important to note: Millbrook scored its first touchdown on a 95-yard kickoff return, and broke a 14-14 tie with a toss for 6 with less than a minute to play to win.

That indicates that a couple of big plays by the Wildcats, not a clogged fuel line on the Warriors’ part, were largely responsible for the outcome of that game.

Heritage coach Jason McGeorge made it clear that a decision on his part helped East Wake outscore the Huskies 28-7 in the second half of their recent game.

After his team built a 34-7 lead by halftime, McGeorge said his aim was to run down the clock – it wasn’t the players’ decision to sleep on the large cushion they had built. But on the other side of the ball, the Warriors made it more interesting than the Huskies could have ever dreamed.

At the same time, East Wake’s start was slow against Heritage. The Warriors turned the ball over on downs on each of their first-quarter possessions.

Finch caught the first of his four scoring snags halfway through the second quarter, but East Wake turned the ball over on three of its remaining four possessions of the first half. The Huskies made 10 points out of two of those miscues.

They’ve proven they can stun you late. But the Warriors will have to protect the ball, find ways to keep early drives alive, and avoid giving up the big play going forward if they want to see a change from the last six losing-record seasons.

With a little more all-around consistency from the first play onward, there’s no telling what East Wake’s record will be when the conference season concludes on Nov. 8.

After going on bye last Friday, the Warriors’ league run begins at home this Friday against as tough a test as they come – the three-peat, conference-title-holding Garner Trojans.

Moody: 919-829-4806 or amoody@newsobserver.com

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