After two consecutive weeks of blowing out teams in the NCHSAA 2-A playoffs and playing conference opponents in each of the first two rounds, the No. 1 overall seeded Tarboro Vikings and head coach Jeff Craddock are getting down to business. They will play an unfamiliar team this week No. 5 seed Northeastern.
This weeks game has a little more meaning then the prior two, because there has been some trash talking going on and it hasn't been by the Vikings.
Earlier in the week the Vikings learned that Northeastern's coaching staff had downgraded and disrespected the Vikings defense. Their coaching staff said Tarboro's outside linebackers had trouble dropping back on passing routes and defending them.
Northeastern, who is 11-1, is coming off an impressive 40-7 victory against Edenton Holmes. Northeastern scored the majority of their points last week on Edenton Holmes miscues.
The talk hasn't made Craddock happy, but he has just wiped it under the rug and continued on with their normal routine everyday at practice and has prepared his team to go to battle.
"Our guys don't react to that kind of stuff," Craddock said. "I tell the guys all the time to stay off the social media sites and just go out there and show them who is the better team on the field."
Craddock knows that it doesn't matter what all the talk is about on the social media sites, because his team is coached to win on the football field.
"Our job is to just execute the game plan Friday night as best as they can," Craddock said. "Once the ball is kicked off then all the talk in the world isn't going to matter. It will be who has the best team on the field and not on the social media sites. That is how you win football games."
Craddock does have a few concerns about Northeastern's offense and their defensive line, which is very athletic and big. He knows that if the Vikings have missed opportunities with missing assignments, missing tackles and turning the ball over, then they will not have the chance of overcoming mistakes like they did earlier in the playoffs or in the season.
"The mistakes get larger during this time of the playoffs," Craddock said. "We have to go out and play our best football."
Tarboro Vikings five star defensive end Tyquan Lewis said the team isn't paying any attention to any of the trash talk by Northeastern. He said the Vikings are motivated and have worked hard all week in practice and have prepared their game plan for them. All they have to do is execute.
"We are just paying attention to the task at hand and that is defeating them," Lewis said. "We have to just stay focused and play our game and we will be alright."
Tarboro is coming into the game averaging over 41 points per game offensively, while Northeastern is averaging over 48 points per game. Tarboro's defense is giving up over 16 points per game, while Northeastern is giving up over 12 points per game.
Craddock feels like he knows Northeastern like he did the previous two opponents, because he and his coaching staff have watched game film on them tirelessly this week and have broken down their offensive and defensive schemes that they will present to Tarboro on Friday.
Craddock is concerned that Northeastern's defensive front is very aggressive and comes after the football.
"We have to control the offensive line of scrimmage," Craddock said. "We can't let them in our backfield all night and if so then it will be very difficult for us to move the ball."
Craddock and the coaching staff have put three different schemes together that they will be able to depend on if they get stopped with their bread and butter offense.
"We are going to go with what we think will work," Craddock said. "If that doesn't work then we have plan B or C but I don't see us having to revert to those options."
On defense, Tarboro will have to contain Northeastern's running backs and not let them get outside. The Vikings will also have to be ready for trick plays which include reverses and passes that come off of the reverses.
"We have to be on our toes which we will be," Craddock said. "We have to stop the big plays and keep them from making the big play on the fade routes. We have to take the hitch and goes away as well."
To keep those things from happening, Tarboro is going to have to keep Northeastern's quarterback in the pocket and not let him roam around and make the big plays.