WEDDINGTON – Weddington football coach Andy Capone can take a couple of different approaches when analyzing his team’s 48-0 home win over Central Cabarrus in the first round of the state 3A playoffs.
One side of conventional thinking is a commanding win can show a team’s poise, focus and readiness for a deep playoff run.
The other point of view, however, is a contested victory early on could reveal a team’s ability to handle stressful situations which would help later down the road.
But Capone doesn’t buy into either side of the argument.
“A win is a win,” he said. “Yeah, it’s helpful for your team to get up early, and we got up early. But anytime you get a win in the state playoffs, whether it is close or by a lot, you take it.”
The Warriors (11-1) put the Vikings away early by scoring on their first three possessions. Senior quarterback Whitner Litton and senior receiver Max Brimigion were involved in the first two scores. Litton connected with Brimigion on an 11-yard pass down the right side to open the scoring in the first quarter. The touchdown occurred after Weddington got the ball deep in Viking territory following a botched snap inside the 10 yard line.
Litton and Brimigion connected on the next series as well, this time for a 7-yard scoring catch. It was the eighth time this season the two combined for a pass and catch which resulted in a touchdown.
Litton threw four touchdowns on 8-of-10 passing for 94 yards, Brimigion had three catches for 31 yards.
“They have really, really good history,” Capone said of Litton and Brimigion. “Max knows where Whitner is going to put the ball, and Whitner knows where Max is going to be… When you have a big play person like Max you can just throw it up there and he can get it.”
The Warriors added to their advantage in the first quarter when Will Shipley took a 16-yard shovel pass from Litton and ran in for the score.
Capone was pleased to see how his team came out against the Vikings, especially after not only having a week off but also playing a unique schedule this year. Because of heavy rain that came through North Carolina, Weddington had games played on Wednesday and Thursday because of rescheduling.
“Whatever we need from the kids they do,” Capone said. “It’s a lot of credit to them… They just line up and play.”
Litton capped off the first-half outburst by the offense by finding Eamon Murphy for an 8-yard touchdown pass. The scoring was then taken over by the Warriors’ special teams and defense. James Shipley returned a Viking punt for a 56-yard score, and Ian Williams, a junior kicker, drilled a 50-yard field goal in the first half. It was the fourth time this year Williams made a field goal that was 50 yards or longer.
“It’s huge,” said Capone of Williams’ kicking ability, which has drawn interest from ACC and SEC schools. “You have offense an defense and special teams, and Ian is such an offensive weapon … He also flips the field, and when we get past midfield, I am thinking we can get at least three points. He has been really good for us.”
The defense for the Warriors continued a dominating trend by securing their second shutout of the season and holding their seventh opponent to under 20 points. Weddington registered six sacks against the Vikings with Alec Mock leading the team with five tackles.
Trey Alsbrooks added to the defensive punch when the junior stepped back into coverage and intercepted a pass on a Viking slant route and returned it for a 15-yard score.
“What they have done all year is be relentless,” Capone said of his defense, which is allowing just under 13 points per game. “They fly to the football and they never take a play off. And whenever the defense can help get the offense good field position, that is always important. They have been doing it all year.”
The Vikings limped into the postseason having lost three of their last four after starting the year on a seven-game winning streak. They end their season at 8-3.
Weddington travels to South Iredell (7-5) Nov. 23 for a second-round game, which features two programs with state titles. The Warriors’ championship came in 2016, while South Iredell captured its crown in 2012 in the 2AA classification.
The second round of the playoffs this year falls on the same week as Thanksgiving. Capone said he will keep the practice schedule as normal as possible but also wants his players to spend as much time with their families. Even with the game happening during a major holiday, Capone again takes a rational approach to the schedule.
“When you are playing in the same week as Thanksgiving, that means you are having a pretty good year,” he said.. “And of course we are going to take it one game at a time, and we will prepare and get ready like we have done every week.”