Tarboro football coach Jeff Craddock said he often talks to his team about its legacy.
Tarboro has a rich tradition and has won three consecutive N.C. High School Athletic Association football titles. Craddock stresses to this year’s club that it will be remembered for what it achieves this year.
“I talk about Kelvin Bryant and Shawn Draughn and the success the program has had,” Craddock said Monday at the NCHSAA’s state championship press conference at N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium.
“But I tell the seniors that they will be remembered for what they accomplish, not that we won the title last year or the year before.”
Tarboro lost to Newton-Conover 51-28 in 2008 and topped Mountain Heritage 28-3, Winston-Salem Carver 21-13 and Lincolnton 39-36 for the last three championships.
The Vikings were expected to be a little down this year after graduating runner Todd Gurley, currently a 1,000-yard rusher at the University of Georgia as a freshman.
“But we stressed that Tarboro is more than player, it is about a program,” Craddock said. “We are as proud of Todd as we can be. He has worked very hard for years.
“But this year’s team wanted to show that we’ve got a pretty good program. Our guys have worked hard, too.”
The top player on this year’s 14-0 club is Ohio State defensive end recruit Tyquan Lewis.
“He has the size (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) and the quickness, but what really sets him apart is his love of football,” Craddock said. “He loves the game. It doesn’t matter if it is a preseason jamboree or the state championship, he loves to play. If he is involved in football, he is smiling.”
Get well card: Fayetteville Britt coach Brian Rimpf said Garner coach Nelson Smith gave him a get well card signed by each Garner player and coach and addressed to Nathan Rimpf, Brian’s brother. Nathan Rimpf lost both legs while serving in Afghanistan.
“The card meant a lot to both of us,” Rimpf said. “It showed sportsmanship and a lot of class.”
Camaraderie: Unity is a big asset for New Bern, said Bears coach Bobby Curlings.
“We’ve got four Division I players,” Curlings said. “We divvy up the opportunities, but none of them care who gets the most attention.”
Runner Jac Watkins is committed to UNC Charlotte. Receivers Chandler Powell and Bra’lon Cherry are committed to the Naval Academy and to N.C. State. Tackle Christian Matua is headed to East Carolina.
The team’s best high school player, quarterback Josh Taylor, is getting lots of inquiries from college programs, but hasn’t gotten a major college scholarship offer.
Taylor has rushed for 1,200 yards and passed for more than 2,000. He took over as the starting quarterback midway in his freshman year and has led the program to 42 wins.
“He is 5-foot-11 no matter how much I stretch him and the colleges have a little question about his arm strength,” Curlings said. “He holds all of our quarterback records and does a great job for us. He is a great player and a great leader.”
Garrard-like: Britt coach Brian Rimpf said Buccaneers quarterback Mark McRae has some similarities to former Southern Durham High, East Carolina and Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard.
McRae weighs 245 pounds and can pass a football more than 70 yards in the air. He also is the strongest player on the Britt squad.