Back for secondsPublished 7:05pm Monday, December 9, 2013
RALEIGH — A foggy day couldn’t cloud the look of determination on Plymouth coach Robert Cody’s face, as he, along with 15 other high school football coaches, met up inside N.C. State’s Vaughn Towers for the annual state championship games press conference on Monday.
Principals, assistant coaches and media members helped fill out the rest of the Towers, and while each displayed different school colors, all were draped in the same cloak of excitement.
Despite the fact that this is Cody’s third state championship appearance, and second in as many years, he said the buzz never wears off.
“It’s been great. We brought all the coaches up here with us. I think it’s a great experience for them, as well as myself,” Cody said. “When (the speakers) get up there and talk about us being one of only a few teams left playing in the state it always brings a tear to the eye because we’re competitors and we want to be here. If that feeling ever wears off then it’s time for me to get out of here.”
Cody’s counterpart David Gentry can relate. As the coach of the Murphy Bulldogs for the past 30 years Gentry has lead his team to five state championships, and when his Bulldogs (13-3) meet up with the Vikings (14-0) this Saturday inside BB&T Stadium at 11 a.m., it will mark his fourth consecutive state title game appearance.
“We’re real fortunate to be here four years in a row,” Gentry said. “We haven’t really looked at it like that though, we’re just going out and trying to win our next game.
“I think one day when we get some time we will look back on it and say ‘that’s a great run’, but right now we’re focused on the state championship game.”
These two teams locked horns in last year’s 1-A title game and produced one of the most thrilling contests of the evening.
Up by one with under four minutes left in the game, Murphy drove down the field and appeared poised to add to its lead when Plymouth’s Khalil Shepard stripped running back James Posey at the 1-yard line, causing a controversial fumble.
While video evidence suggested that Posey’s knee was down, the ball, which rolled through the end zone, was awarded to Plymouth at its own 20.
After that, the Vikings would proceed to piece together a game-winning 80-yard touchdown drive to go clinch a 20-15 victory and the school’s second state championship.
“Officials are always going to make mistakes just like coaches and players are going to make mistakes, but what got me on that one was that the official was sitting right there looking at it,” Gentry said. “They have seven (officials) and the side judge was down there looking straight at it so he had a shot at it.
“I was behind the play. From behind it looked like a fumble, but when you see it on the T.V. replays it wasn’t. His knee is down. I have a picture of it that’s been sitting in my desk for six months. … It was a tough way to lose it, but Plymouth still had to go 80 yards for the touchdown.”
When asked if his players were excited to get another crack at Plymouth Gentry said, “I hope they are, I know the coaches are.”