Tarboro calls championship week practice “business with a smile” as they prepare for 5th straight state football final appearance

Tarboro plays at noon Saturday at UNC
Tarboro calls championship week practice “business with a smile”
Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 9:34 PM EST
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TARBORO, N.C. (WITN) - Tarboro football will represent “The East” again this year in the state 1A championship. The vikings going to the state final for the 5th year in a row. They’ll face Mitchell County on Saturday, at noon, at UNC.

“The best team doesn’t always win the state championship,” says Tarboro head coach Jeff Craddock, “The team that plays the best on the state championship day that wins the state title.”

Tarboro knows state championship football having won 3 of the last 4 state titles in their class.

“The different vibes we get. I have been on a team that lost and I’ve been on a team that one. So I’ve seen how it feels to win and lose it helps you so your senior year you can be prepared for it,” says Tarboro senior Amari Battle, “You know you can be prepared for it. You can help the younger guys and let them know it’s a real deal.”

The Vikings seniors don’t know anything else but finishing the year in the championship game.

“Seniors are doing a real good job of doing senior leadership and keeping our young boys motivated to win,” says Tarboro senior Tobias Joyner, “Just keep telling them to stay focused and keep working. Everything is going to come. You just gotta keep doing with the coaches tell you to do and just let them know to keep grinding.”

Most years Tarboro has done it with championship experienced seniors across the board. This year is different.

“In the past I’ve returned maybe 20 kids that were at least on the sidelines, in the environment for the state championship game,” says Craddock, “I don’t know, maybe 10 this year.”

Senior running back Tobias Joyner was last year’s state championship game MVP.

“We know what it takes to win a state game,” says Joyner, “Try and go out to do it this year too.”

Their 5th straight state final. 5 straight championship weeks of practice.

“We still work hard at practice. But it’s a little bit more of a laid-back atmosphere,” says Craddock, “It’s like business with a smile.”

“Preparing for this week for a long time,” says Battle, “People thought just because we lost one game Tarboro lost their touch. This is what we do.”

Winning is what they do. But it’s still special to play for a state title.

“This stuff never gets old. I know I’ve been blessed to have experienced I think this is my 10th and I know some coaches would dream of that. So, I never take it for granted. Never,” says Craddock, “Every team is special because the team is different.”

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