Over the past two seasons, Rolesville’s football program has risen to a level many would not have expected when the school opened in the fall of 2013.
When Rolesville’s track and field teams first began competing, they were part of the Greater Neuse River Conference, along with teams like Garner, a perennial Wake County football force that had played for a regional championship the season before and was just three seasons away. was of a state. second place.
Rolesville was also a 12-minute drive from Heritage, a program just getting its feet under the skin with two varsity seasons on the books. The Huskies had just had a 6-6 season in 2012.
But the most daunting challenge to Rolesville came from the school from which it essentially split.
Wake Forest-Rolesville High School began to establish itself as a dominant force in 4A football. In 2008, the Cougars entered the 4AA Eastern Regional Championship for the first time, then returned in 2009, losing both years to Jack Britt. In 2010, Wake Forest-Rolesville beat Panther Creek in the regional round and headed for its first-ever championship game. The Cougars returned to the national final in 2013, the year that Rolesville High School opened and Wake Forest-Rolesville just became Wake Forest.
Wake Forest didn’t win the state championship in 2010 or 2013, but in that part of Wake County it was clear where the best football show was. Not since Garner had a Wake County football team won a state title in 1987, and only two teams Garner and Fuquay-Varina had even played for a state championship since then. Rolesville tried to build a program from scratch while playing in the shadow of Wake Forest.
After sticking to junior varsity in 2013, Rolesville played its first varsity season in the fall of 2014. The Rams won just one game, a 14-7 victory at Knightdale. Meanwhile, Wake Forest defeated Garner in the 4AA regional championship and returned to the state finals for the second year in a row.
The Rams got some momentum in 2015. Rolesville won four of the first six games to finish the season with a .500 record at 6-6. It was an achievement for a program that was brand new and played with the first senior class. Rolesville made it to the playoffs and lost in the first round, but Wake Forest didn’t make it to the second round until that fall. Some thought the run for the Cougars was over, which could open the door for a team like Rolesville or Heritage. After all, no football program in Wake County had ever sustained the success that Wake Forest had already seen.
But that door was not open.
Wake Forest came back in 2016 better than ever. The Cougars won the school’s first state football championship in 2016, while Rolesville fell back to 4-7. Wake Forest repeated in 2017, Rolesville was still 3-7. And while the Rams improved to 6-6 in 2018, Wake Forest won its third consecutive 4AA football championship.
The Cougars sent players to Power Five schools. Dexter Lawrence was drafted 17th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Bryce Love was a Heisman finalist at Stanford. When people thought of football in high school in Wake County, Wake Forest was the school that first came to mind.
But Rolesville continued to build his program. Martin Samek became the head coach in 2019 and Rolesville took another step forward by winning 10 games for the first time in school history and taking the school’s first-ever playoff win. The Rams also brought Wake Forest to the edge in the regular season. The Cougars had a 31-30 victory in extra time against Rolesville, then defeated the Rams 26-14 in the playoffs.
In fact, the only losses Rolesville suffered in 2019 were from Wake Forest and Heritage, the two rivals from their neighboring town. The Rams were still the little brother among the three.
But that has changed.
Rolesville has not lost a game this spring season, setting a perfect 5-0 record with a dominant 36-3 win over Wake Forest and a 29-21 win over Heritage. With one more game to go in the regular season, a road game at Corinth Holders where the Rams will be the favorite, Rolesville has already achieved its first conference championship in school history and will receive a top spot in the state playoffs.
Wake County football was referred to as “Weak County” in other parts of the state. Wake Forest changed that. But now it’s not just Wake Forest. In 2019, Cardinal Gibbons and Leesville Road appeared in state championships, a first for both schools. Could Rolesville be next?
I am not there for the season. There’s a lot of football to play, and in the year of the pandemic, it only takes a simple COVID-19 exposure to end a team’s season, but Rolesville will be in talks when the parentheses come out. At least this season, Rolesville has proven itself to be one of the best in the East and the absolute best in its conference.
Whether the Rams make it to the state championship or not, they have proven themselves to be a formidable opponent, they have proven to be a credible program, climbing the ladder year after year in one of the most difficult football neighborhoods in the state. The Rams deserve a lot of credit for that.
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