A perfect ending to a perfect season
Commentary by KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
It started with cramps, strains, bumps, bruises and practice after practice during the brutally hot days of August.
The Plymouth Vikings, like every other team in North Carolina, hit the practice field with the sole goal of winning a state championship.
Sure, it was a lofty goal. The Vikings had never won a state football championship in school history.
Sure, Plymouth had exited the playoffs early in its most recent ventures. But this Plymouth team was unlike any other Plymouth team in history.
This team, led by its seniors, was hungry.
The Vikings tasted victory early and often. Coach Robert Cody led his Vikings to a 12-6 win over Farmville Central in the season opener.
The next 14 games, leading up to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A state championship game at Raleigh’s Carter-Finley Stadium, wouldn’t be close.
Behind a punishing offensive line, two lightning-quick running backs, a steady quarterback, a stingy defense and a close-knit coaching staff, the 2007 version of the Plymouth Vikings was determined to go down in history as something special.
The Vikings went on to outscore their opposition 684 to 72, an average of 42.75 to 4.5, throughout the 16 games.
Thanks to the vicious blocking by the offensive linemen, led by William Hunt and Blake Bryan, Plymouth could almost score at will. Tobias Clagon and Andre Mitchell ran wild as both topped the 2,000-yard mark. Clagon finished the year with 2,123 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns. Mitchell added 2,006 yards and 27 scores.
The defense recorded eight shutouts along the way, including three in the playoffs.
Linebacker Dasheen Perry, who also had fun and put up some solid numbers at quarterback, racked up a team-high 196 tackles.
Lynell Woods, another impressive linebacker, came up with 174 tackles. That includes 12 quarterback sacks.
Angelo Sharpless was a monster at defensive back. The senior, a Division I prospect in basketball, capped his prep football career with a slam dunk. In earning Most Valuable Player honors in the state championship game, Sharpless snagged four passes for 88 yards, taking two of them for scores.
He also snagged two interceptions.
That gave Sharpless a state-best 16 interceptions this year, three of which he returned for touchdowns. The interception total is the second best in NCHSAA history, tying D'Angelo Lewis of Douglas Byrd (1998) and James Houston of Starmount (2002).
Harold Johnson of Glen Alpine holds the record with 17 interceptions in 1967.
There were several big numbers recorded throughout Plymouth’s season.
But for Cody, who has won over 140 games in his 23-year head coaching career at Plymouth, he’ll only remember one, a 20-13 nod over North Duplin for the first state championship in Plymouth’s football history.
It was a magical season.
It ended with a bucket of cold water dumped over Cody on a sunny December afternoon.
It ended with a few dozen Vikings smiling from ear to ear, hugging one another in pure joy.
It ended with a strong contingent of Plymouth fans jumping out and down.
It ended with a state championship.
A perfect ending to a perfect season.
Kevin Travis is the sports editor of the Washington Daily News. You may reach him at 940-4217, or by e-mail at Kevin@wdnweb.com. You may also view his blog, KT’s Take On Sports, at http://wdnsports.blogspot.com.