Millbrook opens the 2019 season at home against Corinth Holders on Friday, the first step in trying to return the glory days of Wildcats football.
Head coach Clarence Inscore has won 113 games in the 18 seasons he has coached at his alma mater, but 2018 was a rough season for Millbrook (2-9), the Wildcats’ worst record since 2006 when they went 1-9.
If a turnaround is to happen to get them back to their winning ways, Inscore would love a little more time to get his team squared away.
“We have to get better,” Inscore said Saturday. “We’re not ready yet; we have to get ready in a hurry.”
New Hanover was the final dress rehearsal for the Wildcats before the regular season starts, and the Wildcats from Wilmington had their way with Millbrook at the HSOT Jamboree. The local Wildcats started out hot, moving the ball down the field on their opening drive and getting a stop on defense, but came out flat afterward.
If Millbrook expects to compete in the Cap 7, Inscore will rely on a group of upperclassmen who were reserves a year ago.
Offensively, the Wildcats will follow the lead of quarterback Tristen Pullen, a senior who threw for three touchdowns as a backup last season.
The leading returning receiver is junior Ethan Lentz, who caught 41 passes for 555 yards and three scores in 2018. Pullen has found a favorite target this preseason in Tre Averhart and for good reason — Averhart is 6-5 and weighs 195 pounds. Those should be two legit threats for Pullen, but Inscore would like to see his quarterback spread the wealth.
“We have to keep our options open,” Inscore said. “We can’t lock in one one guy. [Pullen’s] done a good job of mixing the ball around during preseason; we have to make sure we stay with that going into games.”
The Wildcats’ ground game features senior Jaden Patterson, who had 133 carries for 662 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago.
Defensively, Inscore must replace his top three tacklers from 2018.
“We are counting on our offense to carry some of the load for us,” Inscore said. “We’re kind of young, well, inexperienced on defense. We got some young guys over there to step up and play.”
The leading returning tackler is senior defensive end Trevion Hadley, who finished with 28 stops and four tackles for loss as a junior The rest of the unit are juniors and seniors who were backups last year but still saw enough action that Inscore has confidence in his defense.
“Although they don’t have on the field experience,” the veteran coach explained, “they still have experience.”
The nonconference schedule for Millbrook is brutal, with games against Wakefield, Garner, Heritage and three-time 4AA champs Wake Forest leading into Cap 7 play.
“We have to get more physical,” Inscore said. “We have to get tougher mentally and physically.”