TARBORO FOOTBALL – THOSE TWO WORDS PRETT Y MUCH sum up the Coastal Plains Region of North Carolina, but don’t tell that to the other area teams. The Tarboro Vikings are not just a football program,
they’re a dynasty that has ripped the hearts from competing pro-
grams and dominated their way to five straight state title game
appearances and three championships in that stretch.
But before we crown the Vikings as the best program in the
Coastal Plains, there are still a lot of outstanding programs and
teams fighting for the throne. While the region is compiled of
mostly small towns, the football has a “Big Time High School Football” feel and one can rest assured the stadiums will be packed
this season as fans watch some great teams and players.
But the big story in this region is Tarboro moving from the 2A
ranks to the 1A classification. Of course, ask any coach or prog-nosticator in the state and they’ll say Tarboro is the one small-town
team that can probably compete with the larger schools in the
The Vikings have produced countless college players and a few
pros along the way, including current University of Georgia star
Todd Gurley, but that’s old news to the current group of players
ready to write their own chapter in this rich program’s history.
Coach Jeff Craddock has built a hard-working atmosphere at Tar-
boro that some people call a machine, or the “Next Man Up” saying
used in the NFL. When a player moves on from the program, there
always seems to be someone there to take his place.
Radja Bobbitt should be the one player to watch for the Vikings
this season. He rushed for 1,396 yards and 18 touchdowns last
season and looks to build on that performance.
The likely team to challenge Tarboro, not only for Coastal Plains
supremacy but also a spot in the state finals, will be James Kenan.
The Tigers have grown from a very young team in recent years to a
veteran squad with speed, speed and more speed.
Led by head coach Ken Avent Jr., the Tigers return the core of
their lightning-quick backfield and skill players on both sides of
the football. Marcelias Sutton will be the player to watch as this
running back has the skills to advance to the next level.
Talking about going to the next level, Cleveland High School has
emerged as a state contender in only two years of playing varsity
football. Marc Morris’ Rams have compiled a 23-6 record in two
seasons and could contend for the 3AA championship.
The Rams have a strong senior class led by speedster Isaac
Martin, who posted a 4. 41 time in the 40-yard dash at this spring’s
Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas Combine.
The southeastern reaches of the Coastal Plains Region will be
strong as usual. Similar to the makeup of college football, the
southeastern teams are loaded with speed, talent and tradition.
South Columbus has moved to the Three Rivers 1A-2A confer-
ence and will try to improve on its 12-3 record last year. Coach Fon-
vielle’s Stallions are a yearly force and while the players change,
the results stay the same.
East Columbus should improve and expect other southeastern
teams like East Duplin and Wallace-Rose Hill to continue to be a force.
Goldsboro, Kinston, Ayden Grifton, South West Edgecombe
and Roanoke Rapids are always teams to watch and look for
recently consolidated Northampton County to keep climbing the
ladder as well.
Marcelias Sutton, James Kenan
ALL-COASTAL PLAINS TEAM
TOP 5 TEAMS
1TARBORO: The Vikings are loaded with talent and ready to terrorize the 1A
QB Aaron Farmer
DL Justin Brown
classification after dropping down from the
RB Johnny Frasier
DL Dijon Kenan
RB Marcelias Sutton
DL Spencer Campbell Whiteville
FB Farrell Murchison
DL Jabril Robinson
2CLEVELAND: In four short years, veteran head coach Marc Morris has
WR Rondez Taylor
LB Cody Garner
turned this new program into a championship caliber team.
WR Tiquan Canady
LB Rayquan Gore
OL Trey Johnson
LB Dashaun Daniels
3JAMES KENAN: Head coach Ken Avent’s squad is loaded and ready to chal-
OL Jared Johnson
LB Tyler Barefoot
lenge Tarboro for a spot in the state finals.
OL Justin Cates
DB Drew Turnage
OL Demontre Keith
DB Reggie Frink
4GOLDSBORO: Coach Eric Reid’s Cou- gars are a talented bunch that reeled off
10-straight victories last year. This will be a
OL Luke Clark
DB Daquan Neal
team to watch in the 2A playoffs.
ATH Rashad Chatman
K Freeman Jones
5SOUTH COLUMBUS: The always power- ful Stallions will be replacing talent, but
coach Jake Fonvielle’s squad will still compete.