The Tarboro Vikings will be facing a different opponent, who they have never faced, but their defense will be facing a very familiar offense that they have seen quite a bit as of late.
When Tarboro takes the field in Winston-Salem on the campus of Wake Forest University Saturday at 11 a.m. against the East Lincoln Mustangs, they will know how to defend the spread offense that the Mustangs run.
Tarboro head coach Jeff Craddock has preached to his Vikings all season about not giving up the big plays or the long ball. He knows that if his defense can contain the Mustangs offense and keep them to the short distance plays then they will be alright, but if the long ball is completed then the Vikings may be in trouble.
Tarboro has faced a spread offense a lot in the last six weeks against Beddingfield (twice), Kinston, Northeastern, South Columbus and now the Mustangs. After six consecutive weeks the Vikings should know how to defend the spread offense to perfection.
For the Vikings defense to be successful they are going to have to stop the Mustangs quarterback Garrett Young, who is a senior. He has thrown for 3,407 yards, which is a school record. He has thrown 41 touchdowns and only has allowed five interceptions.
When he gets his feet set and doesn't face any pressure he can throw the ball in any situation and can pick a defense apart.
Craddock and the coaching staff are putting a game plan together to try and shut down the Mustangs offensive attack.
"Every spread offense has different styles of running that system," Craddock said. "Even though it is a system we have become familiar with throughout the season and the playoffs, they still bring different challenges. We have to be ready for their play makers."
The Mustangs have three players on the offensive side of the ball that Young likes to go to which are his three main targets. His main go to guy is Jesse Earnhardt who has caught 66 passess for 1,244 yards and has caught 13 TD passes. The Mustangs also have a go to guy that is a 6 foot, 180 pound freshman, Chaz Surratt. He has caught 9 touchdown passes and has gained 965 yards. He has 50 receptions. The third receiver who has impressive numbers is third in stats, Tyler Brock. He has caught 44 passes and has scored 13 times. he has 816 yards receiving.
"They have great weapons to go to at anytime," Craddock said. "They are the best weapons we have faced all year."
Young doesn't look to run the ball much, but he gets rid of the ball quickly when he drops back in the pocket. He also has pinpoint accuracy.
One of the things the Vikings are going to have to do is put pressure on Young and force him to rush his throws or flush him out of the pocket and make him run and get the big Viking defenders to put big hits on him.
Going into the game, Craddock doesn't know how much blitzing his Vikings defense will do because they make that decision at game time.
"We just have to figure out what works and practice that hard all week," Craddock said. "We will have an idea around the middle of the first quarter or after their first couple of possessions on what we need to dial up. We will make adjustments as needed and go from there."
Craddock and East Lincoln coach Mike Byus talked over the weekend about the upcoming championship game. They talked about different things and Craddock has a lot of respect for him.
"He has a respectable program and he is a respectful guy,' Craddock said. "I am looking for a good game from another great program."
Vikings defensive coordinator A.B. Whitley will be back on the sideline Saturday dialing up the defensive play calling for the Vikings.
East Lincoln was in the state championship game back in 2008, but this is their first trip back. Tarboro is looking to spoil their trip back and go home with their fourth consecutive title.