RALEIGH — Sanderson, since its 1968 opening, has won just one football conference championship. The Spartans will play for another one next Friday.
“Why not us,” Sanderson coach Jeremy Buck said after his team defeated visiting Leesville Road 17-14 on Friday at Bob Catapano Field.
“Nobody gave us a chance,” Buck continued. “Inside our locker room, we knew we had a chance.”
Sanderson (5-2, 4-0) scored first on Conner Sandberg’s early second quarter field goal. These points secured a Spartans’ lead for good, including 10-7 at halftime. Zion Myers’ 1-yard touchdown run accounted for the victors’ other second quarter score.
Drew Taintor’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Griffin Scott gave Sanderson needed insurance with 1:27 remaining in the third period.
Leesville Road (6-2, 2-2) scored its touchdowns in the waning second and fourth quarters. D.J. Scott’s 3-yard scoring run helped set the halftime score 14 seconds before intermission.
Pride quarterback Wil Murray and wide receiver Nasir Winston worked the Spartans’ sideline with a “pitch, catch, and get out of bounds” series to set up Josiah Gary’s opportunity. Gary corralled Murray’s pass and covered 24 yards to pull Leesville Road within the final score at the final stanza’s 1:59 mark.
The Pride attempted and recovered a subsequent onside kick. The football, though, did not travel the required 10 yards before a Leesville Road player touched the ball. Sanderson, thus, ran out the game clock.
Sanderson will travel to Cardinal Gibbons for a Cap Six “winner take all” game. These schools met in a similar scenario (at Sanderson) during the 2017 season. That October 6, the Crusaders rallied from a double-digit deficit, and cemented a 29-28 win on Jalen Brooks’ 1-yard touchdown run with 10 seconds remaining. The outcome was the Spartans’ lone league loss.