FRANKLINTON — For the better part of three quarters of play, the Clayton White Mini Mite football team was every bit the equal of defending champion Zebulon as the two sides battled each other in the East Wake Football League Mini Mite Superbowl last Saturday afternoon.
But, in the game’s final nine minutes, the Cougars displayed why they were the defending champions as Zebulon (11-0) found the end zone three times en route to the 27-6 triumph.
The Cougars seemed to get stronger as the game wore on as Aavion Lucas and Jordan Sherrill ran behind their physical offensive line— Yamir DaGraca, Alex Levinson, Cencere Randolph, Deandre Smith, and Nayati Smith.
“Basically, we were trying to wear them out with our offensive line,” Zebulon coach Anthony Edwards said. “The running game is what it came down to and Lucas, Sherrill and our line just wore them down.”
Sherrill put the Cougars up early in the second quarter but Clayton (10-1) responded behind the hard-nosed running of Joshua Stoneking.
A 25-yard burst by Stoneking seconds after Zebulon’s opening score set the Comets up with first-and-goal. Stoneking took care of the rest on the next play as his four-yard touchdown run tied the game.
Along with Stoneking, Joseph Palmer, Christian Turner and Alexander Williams took turns making big plays for the Clayton defense.
In the end, the tandem of Lucas and Sherrill proved to be too strong to overcome.
“Normally we’re the fittest team out there and (Zebulon) really out-fitted us in the end,” said Clayton coach Pat Cunningham. “I think they had a little more wind than we did and they beat us at our own game.”
Lucas gave the Cougars the lead for good in the final minute of the third quarter as he rushed it in from 16 yards out for the 13-6 lead.
Lucas would add a 33-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and Sherrill found pay dirt from 39 yards out to help complete the perfect season for Zebulon.
“It’s been a blessing,” Edwards said of the back-to-back titles. “We had another group of players come in and had a lot of support from the parents.
“It’s been awesome to have it; it’s been a blessed season for us. This time to go undefeated made it even more special.”
Lucas ended the contest with 122 yards on 18 attempts while Sherrill added 89 yards on 12 touches.
Stoneking rushed for 104 yards in the Comets’ first loss of the season.
“It’s a great group of kids,” Cunningham said. “I don’t have a child on this team that gives me a problem, or doesn’t want to work hard or go the extra mile. There’s not a child who wants to be the superstar. It’s an amazing group of kids.”