Vikings set to defend title in rematch with MurphyPublished 5:23pm Friday, December 13, 2013
PLYMOUTH — It was a sight that would make any coach proud, and reason No. 458 why this year’s Plymouth football team is unlike any other Robert Cody has presided over during his 20-plus years of coaching.
Upon leaving the NCHSAA state championship press conference held inside N.C. State’s Vaughn Towers on Monday, Cody, along with assistant coach Alan Swain, were detoured by a wrong turn on the way back to Plymouth.
The unaccounted for scenic route would cause the coaches to be late for practice during the biggest week of the season. In the past, there would be no telling what Cody could expect to see when he arrived back at campus, but his mind was quickly put at ease upon reaching his destination.
“When we finally got to practice the players were doing all the drills without us,” Cody said. “They were so pumped up that even though we weren’t there they were still practicing. That’s a great thing.”
While Cody and his staff could use a little help navigating the highways, the good news is his Vikings – who have outscored teams 618-95 this season – can find the end zone with their eyes closed.
It’s a trend Plymouth hopes continues today when the Vikings (14-0) take on the Murphy Bulldogs (12-3) in the NCHSAA 1-A state championship game at 11 a.m. at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem.
(For those that can’t make it to the game it will be streamed on News14.com.)
Today’s contest sets up a rematch of the 2012 title bout, one that Plymouth won 20-15 with the aid of a controversial fourth-quarter fumble that led to an 80-yard game-clinching scoring drive by the Vikings.
The backstory has no doubt made for an intense rivalry between these two programs as they enter the rematch.
Both schools are no stranger to the big stage. Saturday’s contest will mark the second straight state championship appearance for Plymouth and its third in school history. The Vikings have a perfect 2-0 record in the big game.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs, led by their 30-year coach David Gentry, will be making their fourth consecutive trip to the title game (10th overall), and own a 6-3 lifetime record in the finale.
Plymouth enters today’s game red-hot, having rolled past Lejeune 50-13 to win the East and extend a winning streak that is believed to be the second-longest in the state to 27 games.
Murphy, who has won 12 of its last 13 games, has been nearly as hot. The Bulldogs topped Albemarle 53-21 to win the West, setting up the inevitable rematch.
“We figured all along that if we got here it would be probably be Murphy,” Cody said.
“We thought all along we’d be playing Plymouth,” Gentry said.
Both teams run some form of the wing-T offense and each heads into the game boasting two 1,000-yard rushers and a third on the cusp.
Sophomore Chad Dance leads the Vikes with 1,287 yards and 20 touchdowns, and is followed by senior Damarkice Price (1,207, 16 TDs), junior QB Malik Webb (997, 10 TDs) and red-hot senior FB Demetrius Davis (760, 14 TDs).
The Bulldogs will counter with Gage Cox (1,633, 21 TDs), Kenton Braswell (1,194, 23 TDs) and Deion Johnson (997, 12 TDs).
Braswell, a 2012 all-state performer, is questionable for today’s game due to an injury.
Defensively, Plymouth runs a 3-5 scheme that is filled with playmakers and features six players with 100 tackles or more. Devonte Spruill, a 6-5, 215-pound ILB, leads the team with 171 tackles and is a force in the middle, while senior safety Adrian Moore is one of the best athletes in the area and has picked off a mind-blowing nine passes this season.
Cody said the key for the Vikings will be stopping the Bulldogs ground game.
“Anytime you play a wing-T team you have to stop that buck sweep,” Cody said. “We did a great job of that last year and we’ll have to do it again this year.”