DUBLIN — Despite a season that produced no wins on the gridiron in 2012, West Bladen coach Joe Salas’ explosive Knights offense opened plenty of eyes, including that of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke football program.
On Thursday, the Braves officially got a verbal commitment from West Bladen’s record-setting quarterback Zach Wilcox.
“I think it’s a perfect fit for him,” Salas said. “The sky is the limit. Zach is a quality person, a good athlete, loyal and a hard worker. He’s got a lot of untapped potential and big upside.”
Although Wilcox lost two games to a leg injury during the season, he still managed to set a number of school and conference records — as well as finishing his high school career with a huge game against playoff-bound, Class 4-A Terry Sanford High.
For his senior season at the controls of Salas’ vaunted air attack, Wilcox was 168-for-330 passing for 1,801 yards. In the season finale, he completed 39 of 58 passes for 485 yards — which ranked him in the Top 20 all-time in the state in several categories: No. 4 in completions, No. 6 in attempts and No. 19 for passing yards.
All of those are school and Waccamaw Conference records.
“I think (Zach’s) success is a by-product of the repetition he put in,” Salas said after the season. Salas has since accepted the head-coaching position with the Pirates of Lumberton High, the same school Wilcox transferred to West Bladen from prior to the 2012-13 school year.
Wilcox is the son of George and Cindy Wilcox, and the grandson of George and Joyce Wilcox.
“Transferring to West Bladen is probably the best decision we ever made,” said Cindy Wilcox. “It was a difficult decision, but a good one.”
Zach agreed with his mother.
“It was pretty big deal to transfer for my senior year, and it really changed everything for me,” he said. “I learned everything I know from Coach Salas, and appreciate the time he spent working with me.”
Wilcox is looking forward to the next phase of his academic and athletic career.
“UNCP feels like a good fit,” he said. “It’s close to home and I think I’ll have an opportunity to start in a couple years, with a lot of hard work. Plus, I really like their offense.”
Wilcox was shown interest by at least four other schools — including Lenoir Rhyne, Methodist, Guilford and Bridewater (Va.).
The Braves, under coach Pete Shinnick since the football program’s inception in 2007, is 41-23 over those six seasons. They finished 6-4 last season.