Midway quarterback Wyatt Holland chats about his record-setting performance in the 80-73 win over Hobbton this week.
NEWTON GROVE — The boy who once hung a life-sized Andrew Luck poster on his bedroom door is now a state-record-holding high school quarterback.
During Monday’s barn burner in Newton Grove, Midway senior Wyatt Holland accomplished something very few football players have even dreamed of, including the former All-Pro QB whose Fathead cutout still covers his door.
The Raiders’ signal-caller surgically dissected Hobbton’s defense to the tune of a school-record 618 yards, while staking his claim as the state’s new king of passing touchdowns in a single game with 10.
“Mentally, you always have to be prepared to play the game and I’ve always grown up wanting the ball whenever the game is tight,” Holland said after the 80-73 road victory in both teams’ season opener.
“It’s just a mindset you have to build every day of the year … if the game is tight, I’m gonna make a play and if I don’t, I’m gonna be able to live with it either way.”
Coming off a short spring season in which he finished among the top five passers in N.C., totaling close to 2,000 yards through the air in just seven games, Holland set the tone early for the upcoming fall slate.
Through two quarters on Monday, he racked up over 300 yards passing and five touchdowns, with just two incompletions.
“He was just putting it on the dot,” Midway coach Cory Barnes said of the three-year starter. “I think this is the most throws I’ve ever called in a game.”
Holland had passing scores of varying lengths, with four of them spanning more than 30 yards.
Despite his working masterpiece, the visitors held just a five-point lead at halftime thanks to an equally brilliant performance by Hobbton quarterback Loden Bradshaw and his host of playmakers.
Add in the 90-plus degrees on-field temperatures, and it made for a long, exhausting summer evening that saw both sides suffer from cramps.
“It was tiring, but when you’re in the game, your adrenaline is pumping. It was just fun to be a part of,” Holland said.
In true Luck fashion, Holland gutted through the adverse conditions and penalty-heavy rivalry contest – accounting for six of the team’s seven touchdowns in the second half.
The last score put the Raiders up by double digits with just over three minutes left while lifting Holland to legendary heights among the all-time North Carolina High School Athletic Association greats. In addition to holding the single-game passing touchdowns record, his yardage total through the air ranks fourth in state history.
But for Holland, the recognition shouldn’t be focused on his individual talent.
“I got to give all glory to God for putting me in this position,” he said. “Our team played a good game and I couldn’t score 10 passing touchdowns if Nate (Smith), Casey (Culbreth) ... and all them boys didn’t make plays. Really, that’s their record, too.”
With sports media statewide picking up the story, Midway now heads into every contest this year without the element of surprise.
But the veteran passer is emboldened by the real-time lessons his group learned in what was a game for the history books.
“We got a lot of young guys, and now they’ve got experience and they know what the varsity speed is like,” Holland said.
“It was good to get a win, and now the kids got something under their belt to hold on to and build confidence with.”
Donnell Coley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-230-2040.