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Heritage stifles Pine Forest in first round

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WAKE FOREST — Heritage’s football team opened their 4A state playoff run in convincing fashion with a dominant 35-14 win over Pine Forest at home Friday. The Huskies torched the Trojans through the air with four passing touchdowns from quarterback Walker Harris. The defense smothered Pine Forest with 13 sacks. It was Wallace Clark’s first playoff win as a head coach for Heritage. He said the players studied their opponent well in film and found weak spots in their defense to take advantage of. “We studied a lot of film on Pine Forest,” Clark said. “We looked at what they were doing defensively and saw some weaknesses. We made sure that Walker got the ball out to our receivers.” The offense was led by receiver Whit Kane. The senior hauled in five catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored on an 80-yard kickoff return near the end of the first quarter. “On offense, we picked up some holes in Pine Forest’s defense,” Kane said. “Playoffs is the most important part of the year. We were all on the same page. We had some drives we couldn’t finish, so we’ll have to clean up some stuff for next week.” On defense, Heritage was led by linebacker Corey Peterson. The senior led the squad with six tackles, three sacks and a fumble recovery in the second quarter. “We practiced real hard throughout this week,” Peterson said. “We were blitzing the whole night, so we were back there a lot.”

Clark said preparation was key in the win over Pine Forest. He said his defense has been talented all season long, but that talent was enhanced in the performance against the Trojans. “All year, our front seven has been pretty good,” Clark said. “Putting pressure on the quarterback is what we do best. We wanted to take advantage of some of Pine Forest’s inexperienced linemen. Corey Peterson and Chris Williams both did a great job tonight.” Heritage jumped out to a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Huskies scored two receiving touchdowns to make the score 28-7 at halftime. Harris tossed one more touchdown pass to Kane in the third quarter to make it 35-7. Pine Forest punched in one more score in the final period, but Heritage’s defense held them off for the remainder of the night to come out on top. With the win, Heritage will travel to Cardinal Gibbons in the second round of the 4A state playoffs. The last time these two teams played was Oct. 4 when the Crusaders blew out the Huskies 52-22. “We have to control what we can do best,” Clark said. “Cardinal Gibbons is going to prepare for us. We gave up a lot of points in that first game. We have to looks at our players and figure out who they can slow down Cardinal Gibbons. We’re looking forward to the match-up.” Cardinal Gibbons is 9-2 overall this year and is the No. 4 seed in the state playoffs right above Heritage’s No. 5 seed. Kane said the players know what they need to do to avenge their earlier loss this season. “Cardinal Gibbons is a good team and we’ve had our eyes on them,” Kane said. “We put ourselves in this position, so we’re going to keep reminding Cardinal Gibbons that we can get it done.” Heritage will play at Cardinal Gibbons Friday at 7:30 p.m.