Carrboro puts undefeated record on line in state final
Nine Carrboro defensive players had a hand in at least one tackle for loss in the Jaguars’ Nov. 20 state 2-AA semifinal win at Jacksonville Northside.
That same group likely will hold the key to undefeated Carrboro’s bid to win its first state football championship tonight when the Jaguars meet South Iredell at N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium (7 p.m., Time Warner Cable channel 520, WCHL radio at chapelboro.com online).
Former North Carolina offensive coordinator John Shoop, who will provide on-air analysis for WCHL’s broadcast, said Friday that while the Jaguars’ explosive offense got Carrboro (15-0) into the playoffs, its the defense that has come together.
Shoop, a former NFL coordinator with the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, went to UNC with former coach Butch Davis and remained there through the 2011 season. He has remained in the area and lives in the same neighborhood as Carrboro High School.
“Carrboro’s defense has been taking it to another level (in the playoffs),” Shoop said. “And that’s important.”
South Iredell (13-2) poses problems for any defense.
Star running back/middle linebacker LaChaston “Ray Ray” Smith (6-0, 225), who has verbally committed to Virginia, missed the first eight games of the season with a broken leg and is the Vikings’ third leading rusher. He was the 2011 defensive player of the year in his conference.
But Smith is healthy now, and senior quarterback Davin King, a first-year starter, has the Vikings on the move. His play helped South Iredell upset perennial state power Salisbury to get to the final.
“South Iredell is a spread team that tries to get a play off about every 15 seconds — they try to wear you out,” Shoop said. “They’re a team that’s getting good at the right time.”
Shoop also is impressed by King, who doesn’t have spectacular statistics but gets the job done.
“He distributes that ball,” Shoop said of King. “You’re probably not all that impressed until the game’s over and you look at the box score and see what the team’s done.”
Carrboro’s defense — led by linebackers Scott Peretin and Tabias Sales, linemen Damien Currie and Rakim Satterwhite and defensive backs Shamek Dolby and George Carpenter — has had success shutting down the passing and running games in the playoffs.
After a 68-31 rout of Burlington Cummings in the first round, Carrboro shut out Randleman 37-0 and followed with tight wins over Reidsville (20-16) and Northside (21-14) in rounds three and four.
What might cause Carrboro problems tonight is the fact that six of its stars almost never leave the field, playing offense and defense. And almost everyone on the roster does double duty at least part-time.
On paper, South Iredell should hold up better. The Vikings use only two players both ways on a regular basis and should be the fresher team as the game gets late.
“They don’t two-platoon much at all, which is unusual for a 2-A school,” Shoop said. “But I wouldn’t put anything past Carrboro. Their mental toughness is just unbelievable.”
Of Carrboro, South Iredell coach Scott Miller said: “Great team speed. They play really hard. They fly to the ball on both sides of the ball. They don’t quit until the whistle’s blown, and obviously that’s a testament to their coach and what they demand of their kids.”
It was the offense — particularly star back Trai Sharp, quarterback Alex McVeigh, wide receiver Marlin Johnson and senior runner/receiver Douglas Parrish — that keyed Carrboro’s undefeated regular season.
Johnson (6-2, 205) is a junior with the agility and hands to go high over smaller defenders to pluck passes out of the air and breakaway speed that makes him a scoring threat anywhere on the field. He has more than 1,200 receiving yards this season, though an ankle injury suffered midway through the second-round win has slowed Johnson demonstrably.
Sharp, who has averaged 10 yards per carry in a 2,000-plus yard season with 35 touchdowns, has been held somewhat in check the past two games by defenses that were able to key on him more with Johnson hobbled.
“Carrboro runs jet sweeps with Doug (Parrish) and Trai (Sharp), and (corner backs) are really involved in stopping that,” Shoop said. “For that to work, the safety has to stay over the top (of Johnson).”
A healthy Johnson can defeat that strategy, Shoop said.
“Johnson’s a wonderful talent, but he gets deep on Carrboro’s scheme,” Shoop said. “(Carrboro coach Jason) Tudryn does an amazing job.”
Shoop added that slowing Sharp down also has a lot to do with talent and desire.
“It’s obvious he’s going to be a special player,” Shoop said of Sharp, whom he has compared to Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett. “But (defensive) guys have been slipping blocks and making tackles, ... pursuing and shedding blocks. It gets hard (to run) in the playoffs.”
Sharp, like Johnson, can score from anywhere on the field. He uses his speed, cutting ability and elusiveness when he’s able to slip through the first line of defenders.
McVeigh, who has passed for more than 2,000 yards, is another key for the Jaguars. The senior leader has shown the ability to take off and run when the focus is on Sharp. His deep passes haven’t been as successful with Johnson limited. Johnson’s replacements have been having trouble with drops.
Parrish also has done well, rushing for a pair of touchdowns in relief of Sharp at Northside. He has carried for more than 600 yards on the year.
Color Miller a believer.
“(Carrboro’s) offensive linemen are drive blocking the whole way,” Miller said. “(Their) runners run hard, phenomenal quarterback. They’re just a good all-around team.”
Tudryn, who has been with the Carrboro program since its inception in 2007, is in the playoffs for the third time with the Jaguars, who previously never had made it past the third round.
He thinks some people still remember the first three teams that all-too-often suffered losses of 70 points.
If people still think Carrboro can’t play, Tudryn laughs.
“Stereotypes sometimes aren’t true,” he said.
NOTES — Carrboro will be the designated home team, wearing their distinctive black and purple jerseys and pants. South Iredell will be in white. ... Shoop hopes to return to coaching at either the pro or college level before the year is out. “We’re figuring it out,” he said. “I’m going to coach, for sure. I’ve got some options and will be open to a lot. I hope to get something done in the next month.”