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Courtesy of Wake Forest

Many Wake Forest students enjoy attending athletic events.

Previewing Wake Forest sports

All you need to know about this year in DEACTOWN

August 18, 2022

Class of 2026, congratulations on your acceptance into Wake Forest, and welcome to DEACTOWN. Our Division I teams are loaded with talent and remain competitive year in and year out. Last year was a memorable season for several of our programs, and this year promises to be a real treat for fans of the Demon Deacons. With the fall season fast approaching, here’s your guide to make sure you’re caught up. This year is going to be one for the record books, so be sure to show up and support your Wake Forest Demon Deacons as they make history.

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Essex Thayer

The Demon Deacons celebrate their second 11-3 season in program history after defeating Rutgers in the Gator Bowl.

Football

Last Season: 11-3 (7-1 ACC)

Wake Forest football in 2021 was a season unlike any other. Wake Forest received its highest AP Poll rankings ever, and went 8-0 for the first time in its history. The Demon Deacons won 11 games, which tied a program record, en route to an ACC Atlantic Division title and Gator Bowl victory. Wake Forest – one of the smallest schools in the Power Five – finally became a force to be reckoned with and put the nation on notice. Head coach Dave Clawson took a program with a losing tradition and turned it into a powerhouse, not only changing the national perception of Wake Forest football, but also the culture and mentality within the locker room. Now, expectations are even higher this year for the Demon Deacons as they look to build on last year’s success.

When asked about his team’s season last year Clawson was adamant when he told his players to “enjoy the moment, but don’t get lost in it.”

The Demon Deacons have players returning at every position, and that experience will be crucial for sustaining success this season. Sam Hartman, a redshirt junior, threw for 4,228 yards and 50 touchdowns last season. His improved running ability allowed him to open up the passing game and establish his presence as a dual-threat quarterback. Hartman found receiver A.T. Perry 71 times last year, and with Donavon Greene returning from injury he’s not without his fair share of offensive weapons. Hartman will be out for an extended period of time due to treatment for a non-football-related medical condition. Mitch Griffis, redshirt freshman, will be the starting QB in the interim.

The biggest weakness for the Demon Deacons last season was consistency. Down the stretch, the team as a whole struggled, coming up short in key moments. This year the team hopes their depth and strengthened core on both sides of the ball will allow them to make a run.

Clawson has brought back Brad Lambert to take over as defensive coordinator. Lambert was the defensive coordinator at Purdue, and he looks to add a level of creativity to the defensive side. Wake Forest’s defense struggled immensely against the run last season, but their ability to create turnovers was key to their success.

The Demon Deacons open up the season against VMI on Sept. 1 and begin conference play against ACC Atlantic favorites Clemson on Sept. 24 at Truist Field. This season promises to be another great one, and with a consistent offense and revitalized defense Wake Forest will look to cement its place as a football powerhouse in the ACC.

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Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics

Players and students celebrate on the court of after men’s basketball defeated UNC.

Men’s Basketball

Last Season: 25-10 (13-7 ACC)

The Wake Forest basketball program is a historic one, producing NBA legends such as Tim Duncan and Chris Paul. In recent years they have struggled to hit their stride, but last year’s campaign proved to be a step in the right direction. Second-year head coach Steve Forbes re-awakened the Demon Deacons and turned the team around, only coming up one win short of an NCAA tournament berth.

Highlights from last year’s season include the Demon Deacons’ 22-point victory over UNC, a team who would go on to play for the National Championship. The Demon Deacons’ stellar conference play earned them a first-round bye in the ACC Tournament, where they came up short against Boston College. Wake Forest then competed in the NIT and defeated Towson and VCU in the first two rounds but lost in the quarterfinals to Texas A&M.

The Demon Deacons will look to make the final jump to the NCAA tournament – but it will not be an easy task with departures of some key players. Forward Jake LaRavia, who led the team in field goal percentage with 55.9% from the field, was drafted 19th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves and later traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. 2022 ACC Player of the Year Alondes Williams led Wake Forest with 18.5 points per game and was at the top of scoring and assists list in the ACC. He recently signed a two-way deal with the Brooklyn Nets. While it is exciting to see how these Demon Deacons will perform at the next level, their presence will be missed. Four of the five top scorers from last season are gone, and recent transfer additions will look to make an impact.

Wake Forest has six returning players for this season. Transfer additions of guard Jao Ituka from Marist, who was MAAC Freshman of the Year, and graduate transfer Tyree Appleby from Florida, will make up the new front court for the Demon Deacons.

Wake Forest has made an effort to schedule more Power Conference opponents to not only provide a challenge for the squad, but increase their chances of a tournament berth. Wake Forest will square off against Wisconsin on November 29, and play LSU on December 10th.

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Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics

The Wake Forest women’s basketball team huddles during a second-round game of the ACC Tournament.

Women’s Basketball

Last Season: 16-17 (4-14 ACC)

After returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1988 the prior season, the stakes were high for Wake Forest women’s basketball to build upon that success. Throughout the 2021-22 season, the team struggled to build momentum and remain consistent. This resulted in a second-round exit in the ACC Tournament and no berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Junior guard and ACC leading scorer in 2021-2022 Jewel Spear returns to the court this season. Senior forwards Olivia Summiel and Niyah Becker, team leaders in rebounds and blocks respectively, also return, adding a needed defensive presence for the squad.

The biggest news coming out of the offseason was the departure of head coach Jen Hoover and the subsequent appointment of Megan Gebbia. Gebbia has coached for 27 years and recently served as the head coach at American University, leading her team to an NCAA tournament berth last season. She will be looking to guide the Demon Deacons back to the big dance, and build upon their success going forward. Their non-conference schedule includes six home games, starting on Nov. 7 against Elon. The schedule for conference play has yet to be announced.

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Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics

Nico Benalcazar runs to the soccer ball.

Men’s Soccer

Last Season: 13-7-1 (4-3-1 ACC)

Following a seventh-straight Sweet Sixteen appearance, Wake Forest men’s soccer continues to prove that they are a program deeply rooted in success. The squad has appeared in 11 straight NCAA tournaments, and this season promises to be one that takes them even further into the tournament..

Despite the departures of Nico Benalcazar, Holland Rula, and Kyle Holcomb to Major League Soccer, the emerging young core of players from this year’s roster will look to make a name for themselves. The consistency and success of this program are due in large part to the high-caliber recruiting class. For the seventh straight year, Wake Forest have brought in a top-10 nationally ranked recruiting class. Last year’s class was ranked first and the incoming class is ranked second. Joining the Demon Deacons campaign as mid-year enrollees are Samuel Jones, Cooper Flax, and Alec Kenison. Flax is the highest-rated college commitment for Wake Forest.

Joining the Demon Deacons campaign as mid-year enrollees are Samuel Jones, Cooper Flax, and Alec Kenison. Flax is the highest-rated college commitment for Wake Forest.

Over the summer, head coach Bobby Muuss signed a long-term contract extension to stay in Winston-Salem. In his tenure, he has made seven straight Sweet Sixteen appearances, won two ACC Tournaments, and produced 30 professional players. The success created by Muuss is guaranteed to continue in the years to come with this contract extension. 

Wake Forest men’s soccer will have 11 home games this season at Spry Stadium. The Demon Deacons face off against UCF and Air Force in their opening weekend homestand on August 25 and August 28, respectively. 

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Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics

The Wake Forest women’s golf team poses with the ACC Championship trophy.

Men’s and Women’s Golf

Last Season: ACC Champions

Both Demon Deacon golf programs had an incredible 2021-2022 season, with the men’s and women’s team claiming their 19th and 7th ACC Championship titles, respectively. Senior Rachel Keuhn, reigning ACC Player of the Year, and sophomore Carolina Chacarra, the conference’s most recent Freshman of the Year, return to the links with the Annika Intercollegiate in Minnesota during mid-September. 

The men’s regular season will feature ten tournaments including their home tournament the Old Town Club Collegiate. in late September. Rising junior Michael Brennan won the event last year and will be looking to defend his title. 

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