CHAPEL HILL — Most high school coaches whose clubs play for state football championships talk about their players’ work ethic. Players have to work hard to reach the N.C. High School Athletic Association state championships and coaches like to acknowledge that effort.
But Carrboro’s march to Saturday’s 2AA showdown against South Iredell at 7 p.m. at N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium is especially noteworthy.
Carrboro has made the trip with 26 varsity players. In an era of specialization and platooning players, the Jaguars play like a team from 30 years ago when the starters rarely left the field. Carrboro has six players who start on offense and defense.
“We knew it was going to be this way,” Carrboro coach Jason Tudryn said. “We knew we were not going to have great numbers so since January most of these guys have worked out five days a week to get ready to play.
“It is hard to believe the dedication they have shown.”
The players worked out five days a week at 8 a.m., during the spring and throughout the summer before heading to a team camp at the University of Virginia.
“Trust and unity are built through adversity so we created some adversity at camp,” Tudryn said. “We’d get them up at 4 a.m., and have three-a-day practices. It was demanding.”
Once the season started, the team gathered every Monday and Tuesday morning at 7:30 a.m. for an intense session in the weight room before classes.
“We knew we were going to have to be in incredible physical condition,” Tudryn said. “We’ve worked at it.”
The effort paid off during the 15-0 season.
Tudryn said his team never seems impressed, dismayed, intimidated or concerned when it goes out for pregame warm-ups and sees what seems to be a vast army at the other end of the field.
“Our guys know that it doesn’t matter much about how many players you have on the sidelines. It’s the 11 on the field that counts,” he said.
Tudryn talked to his club this week about adopting the same sort of “so what” attitude in Carter-Finley Stadium for the state 2AA championship.
“I want them to appreciate the opportunity, to be excited about this, to really understand what this opportunity is, but not be overwhelmed,” he said.
“I think we’re going to do that. This team has handled its emotions well this season. We beat Chapel Hill, our big rival, 35-0 and turned around and had to play South Granville, which was the defending state champion, the next week. Great excitement, but then get ready to do it again very quickly.”
Injuries could have taken a toll during the season and a thumb injury to running back Douglas Parrish forced the team to adjust. Parrish, who has 709 yards rushing, and sophomore Trai Sharp were sharing running duties before Parrish tore a thumb ligament that required surgery.
Sharp stepped up with Parrish out. He leads the club with 2,323 yards to complement quarterback Alex McVeigh’s 2,280 passing yards.
“When Douglas was hurt, I knew I had to step up and do more,” Sharp said. “We’re a family. We pick each other up. I’d do anything for my family.”
Parrish is back at full speed now and scored a couple of touchdowns in Carrboro’s 21-14 win at Jacksonville Northside last week.
Carrboro guard Scott Peretin (225) was the Carolina 12 offensive lineman of the year and is expected to play a key role against a South Iredell front that includes ends Julius Bowe (255) and Jonathan King (220) and nose tackle Tay Smith (200).
“Peretin loves to play football,” Tudryn said. “I grew up pulling for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Scott reminds me of Jack Lambert, not too big, but fast, physical and loving the game.”
South Iredell is impressive on tape, Tudryn said. The Vikings use a no-huddle offense and Tudryn expects part of their plan is to wear down the Jaguars.
“We’ve got to contain them,” Tudryn said. “And play hard for four quarters.”
South Iredell relies on the passing of Davin King (1,524 yards) and the running of 225-pound University of Virginia recruit LaChaston Smith (498 yards). Speedster Rasheed Degree leads the club with 912 yards rushing.
Smith was injured much of the season, but is back in the lineup.
“You look at his numbers and think, ‘He’s not the guy,’ but believe me, he is the guy,” Tudryn said.
New Bern wins 4A title
Jac Watkins scored four touchdowns – the final one a 2-yard touchdown run with 26 seconds left – as New Bern defeated Porter Ridge 39-38 Friday night to win the NCHSAA 4A championship at Kenan Stadium.
It was the first state title for the Bears (15-0) since 2007.