Weddington coach Tim Carson – whose Warriors (14-1) play Northern Guilford (14-1) for the 3AA state title Saturday in Raleigh – has his team making its first appearance in a state championship game.
It’s also a first for Carson, who over the past 12 seasons as a coach (before coming to Weddington in 2011, he spent nine seasons at Parkwood) had coached teams to the state playoffs five times.
Before this season, the farthest either the Warriors or Carson had advanced in the state playoffs was to the third round of the 2013 3AA bracket.
How did last year’s playoff run help this year’s team? “The experience from last year helped this year’s senior crew lead the young guys to where we are today. I credit a lot of that to last year’s seniors – we had 16 or 17 seniors, and they kind of paved the way for these guys. They’ve just taken it another couple steps forward.”
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What was the turning point for this year’s team? “After the Cuthbertson loss (42-38 on Oct. 17) and playing the way we did, we had the opportunity to jell together. That’s when I thought we could make a run. We do have a special crew here. We just brought it out, and they keep playing together. They started believing that, and it’s snowballed into a special season.”
Initial impressions of Northern Guilford? “They’re a very athletic and well-coached team. That’s one heck of a running back they have (C.J. Freeman, 1,908 rushing yards, 27 touchdowns). They also have some outstanding receivers, and their quarterback (Cameron Harris, 2,551 yards passing and 30 TDs, 601 yards rushing and 11 TDs) is a good dual-threat guy that’s going to be tough to bring down.”
How’s your team’s health? “As healthy as you can be after 15 games. Everybody’s always a little banged up. The guys know that at this time of the year, it’s time to tape it up and let’s go.”
What’s been the biggest surprise? “The development of our offensive line. We start one senior, a junior and three sophomores up front, and rotate two more sophomores in also. Those guys have come together and made this football team a lot better.”