Players react to Cap-8 championship as they prep for final four of states


The sign in the stadium records the last time the Cougars captured the Cap-8 title. Time to add 2014 to the sign.

Brett Zeck, Reporter


While the Cougar Crazies spent more than $100 on flour for their kick-off rituals this conference season, the 2014 squad totaled 222 points during these seven games, only allowing 93 from their opponents, and went undefeated.

The football team is this year’s CAP-8 champions, a title not seen by the Cougars since 2010.

The straight 14 games won so far equal the most games won in one season in school history.

“Anytime you can win a conference championship in a tough division like the CAP-8, you are very proud,” head coach Reggie Lucas said. “It also gives the school pride knowing their school won the championship.”

What is the secret ingredient to this success on the field?

The difference between the previous season’s gameplay and this season’s is that the team, while remaining aggressive as ever, is more knowledgeable of their plays, according to senior linebacker Garratt Brannock.

“In our minds, we definitely thought we would attain this position,” Brannock said. “We put in the work early mornings. Sweat. Blood. Hardship. You have to think positive to get somewhere.”

Senior running back Bryce Love, who is sought after by many recruiters for his talents on the gridiron and track, has the same mentality.

“In order to achieve something, you must believe it first.”

Offensive coordinator Hancil Phipps sees the major difference this year as “the performance of our offensive line.”

“They have steadily gotten better each week and their hard work has paid off as we have progressed into the playoffs.”

During last year’s first nine games, the collective offense of our opponents gained 152 points. This year, that number fell to 111.

The points per game average dropped to 12.33 from 2013’s 16.88.

Senior offensive lineman, Chaska Moon, said the title and statistics don’t affect the team’s performance in the playoffs.

“It doesn’t change anything. We play 100% in every game and always plan to win.”

The 2014 Cougars are 14-0, and will be at Trentini this Friday against Garner, ranked no. 2 in The News & Observer high school football rankings.

Wake Forest is ranked no. 1.

Friday will be the first time both of these history-rich teams will have met in a state semifinal.

“We were lower ranked in the beginning of the season,” sophomore Jake Campbell said. “Now we’ve progressed so that we’re one of the best in the state.”

Senior Charlie Costantino views his teammates as more energetic since their first game and win against Panther Creek, 23-6, in Aug.

“Playoffs is only four games, and we could lose at any moment. We’re ready to go. Pumped and hyped,” Costantino said prior to the team’s playoff run.

Reclaiming the conference championship title has given the team and the school a “renewed sense of pride,” according to Phipps.

“We feel like the team represents not only the school but our community as a whole. So, our success on the field will hopefully improve the attitude of our community,” Phipps said.

Phipps, as offensive coordinator, prepares the offensive game plan each week and calls the plays each Friday under the lights. In order for the players to travel to Winston-Salem for the state championship, he says they need three things: “focus, luck and no major injuries.”

“I’m proud that the team has been able to focus on one game at a time,” Lucas said.  “They have not looked past the opponent that they play every week.”

The honor of meeting NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell and being recognized for incorporating the Heads Up program sponsored by USA Football and the NFL are also factors Lucas contributes to the dexterity of this year.

According to Phipps, it’s not the statistics or the titles that have been the greatest achievements this year.

“Seeing them grow and learn the great lessons that playing football teaches is by far the greatest accomplishment of each year.”

Love agrees with Phipps on the sentiments.

“You learn a lot of life lessons from football,” he said. “The players, the family, it all helps ultimately in the long run.”