With another regular season of high school football finished, it’s time to use 20/20 hindsight vision to encapsulate the ups and the downs of the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference.
Close losses: Close games from week to week are a staple of football season in the southwestern Wake area.
Apex and Green Hope each lost three games by six points or fewer, while Cary lost three games by 10 points or fewer.
For the conference title, Middle Creek beat Panther Creek 23-21, but only after the missed game-winning field goal attempt was nullified by a Panther Creek timeout to ice the kicker.
The timeout prepared him instead, and Michael Rubino nailed the second try as time expired.
Postseason streaks: Middle Creek now has the longest postseason appearance streak in the conference, making the playoffs in all 11 of its varsity seasons.
Cary, the previous owner of that title, had its 11-year streak snapped.
Fuquay-Varina has now made the playoffs in eight straight seasons. Panther Creek’s appearance makes four in the past five years while Green Hope is in the playoffs for the second straight year and Holly Springs is in for the first time since 2009.
Apex’s playoff drought is now at five seasons. Athens Drive missed the postseason for only the second time in the past eight seasons.
Top rushers: At least 20 Triangle players went more than 1,000 yards rushing this year, and five were in the SWAC.
Panther Creek’s Dorrel McClain (1,498 yards; 24 TDs), Holly Springs’ Tray Staten (1,463; 21), Fuquay-Varina’s Damarus Williams (1,463; 10), Athens Drive’s Dominique Lynch (1,351; 18) and Cary’s Isaiah Gibbons (1,142; 8) all went over the mark. That list doesn’t include three runners – Fuquay’s Tyler Williams, Cary’s Trevion Hackney and Holly Springs’ Kelvin Wilson – who had double-digit touchdowns.
Power conference?: The SWAC didn’t fare well in the nonconference portion of the schedule, finishing just 17-16 overall. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the league was down as it scored some major nonconference wins.
Panther Creek beat a Leesville Road team that finished 8-3, Cary upset Cardinal Gibbons (8-3), Athens Drive held on against former conference foe Lee County (9-2), Fuquay-Varina clipped Riverside (8-3), and Green Hope took down Cleveland (8-3).
New passers: Only Panther Creek avoided having to break in a new starting quarterback before or during the year.
Green Hope junior Luke Massei led the league with 2,625 passing yards on 57 percent passing with a 29:17 touchdown-to-interception ratio, followed closely behind Middle Creek junior Brant Grisel’s 2,048 yards passing with a 53.2 percent completion rate and 22-13 TD-INT ratio.
Panther Creek’s Brenden Magner completed 57.3 percent of his passes for 1,861 yards (14:8 TD-INT ratio).
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