After a 1-3 start to the season, Weddington (12-3) has won 11 straight and earned a berth in Saturday’s 3AA state championship football game against Eastern Guilford (15-0).
It’s the second state title berth in three seasons for coach Tim Carson and the Warriors, who lost 14-7 in 2014 to Northern Guilford.
Carson took time from preparations for the game this week to discuss Saturday’s game, scheduled for 3:05 p.m. at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem:
Q. How have preparations for this game differed from your first state title game two years ago?
A. Not a lot, really. I’ve told the kids that all the hoopla surrounding the game is a distraction, and that they should focus on what they need to do. We want to avoid a start like two years ago (the Warriors threw an early interception and fell behind 7-0).
Q. How does this year’s team compare with the team in 2014?
A. They’re actually very similar. Both teams play very well together and worked really hard. Both teams were built to work together.
Q. Before the season, you said that replacing the front seven on defense was the biggest task facing the coaches. How did that go?
A. We lost all but one player from last year’s front seven. We had to move some kids around. It wasn’t working in the first four games, and we did some more moving. But everything clicked, and the defense has gotten very good.
Q. Your team lost three of its first four games? How did you and the players respond?
A. Those losses were to good teams, but our players worked hard to change some work habits. (Linebacker) Joey Hobbs was one of the kids who got everyone together and talked about working harder.
Q. When did you think this team might be something special?
A. After the Sun Valley game (a 49-19 victory Oct. 21 over the preseason Southern Carolinas 3A favorite). We played a near-perfect first half. The big question mark I had about our defense was how we could defend the pass. They (Spartans) have a big passing game, and we were nearly perfect.
Q. Weddington is an affluent community, and your players have a number of other potential interests. What makes the football program so strong?
A. The weight room helps a lot. The kids work hard in there, and it helps them on Friday nights. Conditioning is important, too. We had about 32 players on our roster this year, and a lot of them played both ways. They’re in good shape. And we have a lot of smart kids. That enables us to run some pretty complex offensive and defensive schemes.