Following his outsanding 2009 season, Millbrook junior Justus Hoffmann was named the Cap-7 Conference's Defensive Player of the Year.
WF-R's Trea Jones receives
Player of the Year award
Two days after the Heisman trophy was awarded to the best running back on the best college team — Alabama's Mark Ingram — the Cap-7 Conference released it's awards Monday morning, including the league's Player of the Year honors.
And like the Heisman, the Cap-7 coaches also voted to award the best running back on the best team with the league's highest accolade.
After leading the Wake Forest-Rolesville football team to an undefeated regular-season, and its second straight 4-AA Eastern Regional appearance, Trea Jones was named the league's Player of the Year.
in frigid finale
A week after an exhilarating 38-24 victory over Enloe, the Sanderson football team couldn't build on their recent success, falling 42-10 in its season finale against Broughton Friday night.
It was a bittersweet night for the Sanderson seniors — playing in their final high school game — as they were honored on the field at halftime, trailing 21-3.
But the score can be misleading as these Spartans fought in a manner befitting their warrior namesake.
It must have been the cold weather — temperatures were in the 40s Friday — as both squads struggled to hold onto ball.
Nearing the end
Six seniors share their thoughts on Friday night's finales
This is it. It all comes down to this.
Four years of up-and-downs, field-long gassers and film study have lead up to now.
Afternoons lifting weights, summer workouts and all the practices between games, too.
And Every moment Friday will be a memory replayed for years to come.
So there's little surprise the seniors of the Leesville Road, Millbrook and Sanderson football teams will be a tad emotional when they take the field Friday night — their last assured home game of their careers.
Senior Sam Bauckham and the Sanderson football team scored 24 second-half points leading to a 38-24 victory over Enloe Friday night. It was Sanderson's first conference win of the season.
Spartans surge in second half, clipping Enloe 38-24
The Sanderson football team showed up to the costume party fashionably late Friday night, arriving shortly after halftime.
Once there, the Spartans shed their 1-8 image. They looked nothing like the team that committed eight turnovers a week ago against Wake Forest-Rolesville. You couldn’t tell them from the team which trailed 17-14 at halftime and had been outgained on the ground 228-34.
But Sanderson fooled everyone — even first-year head coach Tony Lewis — by outscoring Enloe 24-7 in the second half to earn a 38-24 road victory.
“We didn’t look like a team that’s 1-8,” Lewis said. “It says a lot about our kids to only have one win and come out with that kind of effort. You don’t always see that from a 1-8 team.”
Spartans' upset effort
It’s unlikely that too many 1-7 teams have defeated an 8-0 squad while committing eight turnovers.
But the Sanderson football team came as close as any Friday night.
The Spartans trailed undefeated Wake Forest-Rolesville just 28-14 in the third quarter — despite six turnovers on nine possessions up to that point — before the Cougars pulled away late in a 48-14 win.
In all, Sanderson tossed seven interceptions — five on its first seven drives— and lost one fumble in 13 offensive possessions. Five of those turnovers came on WF-R’s side of the field and two happened inside the 20-yard line. Five of the Cougars’ seven touchdowns came after a Spartan turnover.
PHOTO BY ROB ORAZI
With starting quarterback Josh Stanley out, Leesville Road turned to its running game and senior Dylan Edwards (42) to get the job done in Friday's 59-14 win over Sanderson Friday.
Mired in a quarterback conundrum thanks to a rash of injuries, the Leesville Road team didn’t need to find a golden arm to lead the Pride past Sanderson Friday night.
They just needed to find someone to hand the ball off.
The Pride rushed for 377 yards while passing just three times — two of which went for touchdowns — in a 59-14 throttling of the Spartans (1-7) to punctuate homecoming. Leesville Road (8-1) entered the contest averaging nearly 14 pass attempts per game.
“We thought we could run it and that’s what we wanted to do anyway to take the pressure off the quarterbacks,” said Leesville Road coach David Green.
Sam Bauckham (left) and the Spartans face Grayson Hawkins and the Pride Friday at 7 p.m. Both teams are coming off difficult losses last week, and look to rebound with a win.
Pride, Spartans stage showdown Friday
Green, Lewis talk about
While the Leesville Road (7-1) and Sanderson (1-6) football teams might be on opposite sides of the win-loss column, both squads find themselves in the same position entering Friday night's match-up: battling to get back on track.
After a thrilling, though disappointing, 35-32 loss to Wakefield last week, in hindsight the Pride suffered more than a discouraging defeat.
According to Leesville Road coach David Green, starting quarterback Josh Stanley was injured against the Wolverines and will not be behind center against the Spartans Friday.
And with back-up Austin Berrios also sidelined with an injury — suffered during a beautiful 51-yard touchdown catch against Wakefield — the Pride's QB position is an area of uncertainty right now.
With Stradford Barnett (4) giving chase, Scott Gray (22) looks to cut upfield during Friday night's clash between Millbrook and Sanderson. The Wildcats prevailed 42-24.
Wildcats score 21 unanswered points to knock off Spartans Friday
In a game of spectacular plays, the turning point of the Millbrook football team’s 42-24 win over Sanderson Friday was not a long touchdown pass or highlight-reel run.
Rather, it was a funny hop on a Millbrook punt in the fourth quarter that opened the floodgates for the Wildcats to score 21 unanswered points and spoil the Spartans' homecoming.
Trailing 24-21 and punting from their own 23 yard-line, the Wildcats recovered a live ball that glanced off a Sanderson player while rolling dead.
The unfortunate bounce gave Millbrook a new set of downs inside the Spartan 30 yard-line. And the play set off a snowball effect as the Wildcats captured momentum and snapped a three-game losing skid.
Wakefield QB Connor Mitch (10) threw two touchdowns passes in Friday night's 32-6 victory over Sanderson, kicking off the Wolverines' Cap-7 Conference schedule.
Wolverines stifle Sanderson 32-6
As Wakefield's Moises Ramirez watched his teammates jar loose a fumble just before halftime of Friday's 32-6 win over Sanderson, the senior's first thought wasn't to beat the Spartans to the recovery.
There were only maroon jerseys in the vicinity, so that wasn't really a worry.
Rather, Ramirez was hellbent on racing fellow defensive end Matt Yovanovich to the ball.
After watching Yovanovich record two touchdowns in as many weeks, Ramirez wanted to keep pace with his teammate.
"Honestly, I saw Matt, and I said to myself, 'Please don't get it, this one's mine,'" he recalled laughing. "My second thought was, 'Boy, this is a long run.'"
Six football games
not to miss
In no order of importance, here are the six conference games I believe each football fan should mark on his or her calendar. And there's good news, all six are slated for a different Friday night, so you won't have to miss any of them.
(In retrospect, I could have listed them chronologically, but where's the fun in that.)
When Wakefield and Sanderson are looking for a big defensive stop in Friday's Cap-7 Conference opener, don't be surprised to see Matt Yovanovich (left) and Brandon McCain be the players stepping up to make the play.
Spartans, Wolverines kick off conference schedule Friday
Wakefield senior Alex Starnes explained the intensity and excitement leading up to Friday night's Cap-7 Conference opener against Sanderson will begin well before kickoff.
In fact, for the Wolverines and their fans, it has already started.
"You could hear it in the school, starting Monday," the Wakefield wide receiver said. "It is like the entire school knows that conference [play] is starting up. And that we're playing Sanderson. It is a big deal. It is just a different vibe, you can just feel it. You can't put it into words, but you can definitely feel it."
Spartans beat Bears
In its final non-conference game of the season, the Sanderson football team defeated traditional power New Bern Sept. 18. For photos of the action, click on the photograph above.
PHOTO BY ROB ORAZI
With a defender hanging on him, Sanderson receiver
Kevin Ott (10) secures the ball during Friday night's thrilling 22-20 victory over New Bern.
With stellar second half, Spartans clinch first win
Just how much did Friday night's 22-20 come-from-behind victory over New Bern mean to the Sanderson football team? At its emotional conclusion, several Spartans actually had tears streaking down their faces.
Entering the contest winless, the Spartans started off inauspiciously Friday as their first possession went three-and-out. The visiting Bears quickly took advantage of good field position at midfield, capping off their opening drive with a touchdown pass to receiver Mike Brown.
But Sanderson regrouped in time to pressure the ensuing kick, and New Bern missed its PAT.
Sanderson running back JR Soto fights through a tackle during the Spartans' Sept. 11 game against Panther Creek. The Catamounts took advantage of seven Spartan turnovers to win 37-7.
Turnover-proven Spartans fall to Panther Creek
As crushing as Josh Tann's second-quarter, 65-yard INT return for a touchdown was in Panther Creek's 37-7 victory over Sanderson Friday, Spartan head coach Tony Lewis reasoned it wasn't the game's knockout punch.
"It was a 14-point swing," he shrugged. "And it hurt. But to be honest with you, once we got to halftime, I thought we could recover from that."
Trailing 21-7 at the break, Sanderson needed a productive third-quarter drive to claw back into contention.
Spartans can't get
on track at Cary
Costly penalties and missed opportunities sum up the Sanderson football team's 32-7 loss at Cary Friday night.
And one late-game play best illustrates the Spartans' misfortunes in the non-conference match-up.
In the final quarter, Cary, punting from midfield, directed a short punt toward the visitor’s sidelines. As members of the Sanderson special teams' unit tried to back away from the football, the ball took a high bounce, hit a Spartans' helmet and was recovered by the Imps.
It might have been the nail in the coffin for Sanderson, but Cary was called for a penalty and forced to punt again.
Spartans fall to Bulldogs
Click onphotograph above to see pictures from Sanderson's football game at Southeast Raleigh Saturday, Aug.29.
PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN WORSTELL
Sanderson running back Derrick Powell looks for a hole during Saturday night's game at Southeast Raleigh. The Bulldogs bested the Spartans 43-14.
Bulldogs batter Spartans 43-14
A steady rain on Friday night postponed Sanderson’s football game at Southeast Raleigh.
On Saturday, it was the Bulldogs' offense that poured down on visiting Spartans in a 43-14 victory.
The Bulldogs reached the end zone on each of their first five possessions and scored the first 36 points of the game to send the Spartans to a 0-2 start to the season.
“We just weren’t a very good football team tonight,” Sanderson coach Tony Lewis said. “This was a great test to see where we’re at. It’s a crossroads to see where we’re going to go.”
Matt James and the Sanderson football team look to build on last week's solid second half against Athens Drive. The Spartans travel to Southeast Raleigh Friday, battling an athletic Bulldog squad.
Bulldogs, Spartans square off Friday
Of all the adjectives Sanderson head football coach Tony Lewis used to describe Friday night's opponent, Southeast Raleigh, it's the one which catches the most attention.
The first-year coach also used "athletic", "elusive" and "hard-running," but dangerous just sounds — well – dangerous.
Check the Bulldog's stat line from last week's 41-17 win over Holly Springs, and you start to figure out why.
Athens Drive slips up Sanderson
Despite a commendable, impressive and determined second-half comeback, the Sanderson football team fell to Athens Drive 21-14 in Friday night's season opener.
After an up-and-down first half — which resulted in a 14-0 deficit at halftime — the Spartans put together two solid quarters, pushing the Jaguars until the game's final minute. But Sanderson was unable continue its late surge and pull out the win.
Sanderson got off to a rocky start as its defense missed several opportunities to convert Jaguars’ miscues into turnovers. And early in the game, Jaguars’ high-powered rushing attack appeared to have its way.
Sanderson's Derrick Powell (left) is one of several athletes the Spartans plan to utilize on offense this year. Although not big, Powell could add plenty of pop to the squad's running game.
to strap it up
With two solid scrimmages behind them, first-year Sanderson head coach Tony Lewis and the Spartans are ready to kickoff the 2009 football season Friday night.
Sanderson opens its schedule with Athens Drive, a likely contender in the Tri-9 Conference.
The Spartans got the better of the Jaguars last fall, recording a 46-34 victory in the fourth week of the season. But as any coach will tell you, last year's results carry no weight.
And with a new coach, several new assistants and new offensive and defensive schemes,
Sanderson won't look much like its 2008 version anyway.
Video: Spartans hit Harnett Central
The Sanderson football team traveled to Harnett Central Wednesday, Aug. 12, for its first scrimmage of the season. In case you missed it, here are the highlights.
Sanderson's Chris Lampkins (left) cuts upfield while Carl Marant gives chase during a passing drill at practice this week. Lampkins is one of several wide receivers expected to make a big impact for the Spartans this fall.
Spartans utilizing athleticism, talent
First-year Sanderson head football coach Tony Lewis isn't afraid to tell the truth as he sees it.
Sitting in his office adjacent the school's weight room Wednesday afternoon, Lewis conceded "We're not going to be the most talented team in conference."
The coach's honesty was refreshing, but the comment still hung in the air like an ill-fated pass before he continued.
"But we aren't the least talented, either," he then added. "And we have enough talent to succeed."
McCain talks Spartan football
Sanderson linebacker Brandon McCain has his sights set on contending in the Cap-7 Conference. To see what else is on McCain's mind entering this season, click here.
First-year Sanderson head coach Tony Lewis (center) stops a drill to give instructions during Saturday morning's first football practice.
Football opens practice Saturday
Tony Lewis' first official day as Sanderson's football coach was about laying a foundation.
In the Spartans' first practice of the season Saturday morning (Aug.1) — on a dewy field behind the high school — Lewis kicked off his tenure running special teams' drills.
During the first few exercises, Lewis asked his squad to run at 50-percent speed. Then he demanded 75 percent.
Every few snaps, Lewis — who replaced Jason Tindal as Sanderson's head coach this summer — raced down the field and added a personal touch to his instruction.