From the Sideline

Column: Senseney had a solid first term at Knightdale

December 16, 2013 

For the first time in seven years, an eastern Wake County team kept our eyes on football rather than the first two weeks of the winter sports season.

Knightdale certainly wasn’t ready to bow out in the third round of the 4A state football playoffs on Nov. 29. But the Knights gave state power Scotland a scare down to the final drive – the final 16 seconds.

There was plenty for Knightdale to be proud of in a 2013 season that featured a first win against Garner, a first Greater Neuse River 4A Conference championship and first appearance beyond the first round of the playoffs.

It cleansed any bad taste left over from the 2012 season, when the Knights’ season ended with back-to-back losses to Clayton – the second coming in the first playoff round.

It has been a combination of players, coaches and the right time that has reshaped the program’s identity in recent years.

It’s hard to overlook the contributions of brothers Marcell and Marquavious Johnson, who combined for 104 touchdowns and more than 4,150 yards of offense while filling numerous roles since the 2010 season. And in the last two seasons, running back Nate Harvey stockpiled more than 2,100 yards and rumbled in for 20 scores.

It’s also hard to ignore the presence of coach Rob Senseney, who was hired for the 2010 season following Knightdale’s 1-10 season in 2009.

Following three straight years of improvement – with records of 3-8 in 2010, 4-6 in 2011 and 7-4 in 2012 – Senseney’s 2013 team rewrote school record books by going 11-2.

Senseney, who led Gretna High teams to Virginia 2A state championships in 2003 and 2004, boasts an all-time count of 104-39 (.727) at four schools including Knightdale.

That track record suggests Senseney has a way with building football programs no matter what field he calls home, getting the most possible out of his players.

After the Scotland loss, he said “We just coach up the group that comes and take them as far as they can grow. It’s a rebirth every year.”

It’s been fascinating to see that nonchalant approach translate to the field in Senseney’s first full coaching term at Knightdale. It will be as interesting to see how his program responds as it reloads at several key positions starting next season.

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

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