TARBORO, N.C. (WITN) - Tarboro senior linebacker Clay Craddock is our newest WITN Pepsi Player of the Week!
The start of a new high school football season is just days away, and with that comes last-minute preparations for the first week of games. Jeff Craddock and the back-to-back state champion Tarboro Vikings enter 2019 riding a 30-game winning streak. They have not lost a game since 2016.
But win or lose, this season will be a special one for the Vikings' long-time head coach, as this will be the final season he gets to coach his son, Clay.
"I love the game of football," Clay said.
"He loves the game of football," Jeff added.
"I'm just trying to enjoy every moment," Clay said.
"I'm going to enjoy every minute with him," Jeff added.
Jeff Craddock is one of the lucky ones. He gets to watch his son Clay play football from the sideline rather than the stands.
"I like talking about all of our football players because I love them to death," said Jeff Craddock. "But obviously when you're talking about your own son, and you've seen him rise through the program, and now he is the leader of the football team. It makes me very proud."
Since Craddock took over the Vikings program back in 2004, the team has won five state titles and Clay has been there for all five. Either as a ball boy -- or more recently -- as a standout linebacker!
"I just feel like I'm blessed," said Clay Craddock. "Not many people get to share that experience."
Speaking of experience, Craddock is Tarboro's top returning tackler, and he prides himself on his hard work and knowledge of the game.
"Film study is a huge part of my game," explained Clay. "And so one of the responsibilities that I take is just being smart and just knowing where to be at the right time."
"The number one thing that makes me the most proud of being the father is that everybody who has met Clay or coached Clay, they've always said what a great young man he is," Jeff said.
But after years of one-on-one film sessions and hundreds of victories, the father-son duo is getting ready to embark on their final season together on the Tarboro sideline.
"I think I'm just going to miss the environment," said Clay. "There's nothing better than high school football playing in front of your hometown. I've been playing in front of these people for six year of my life."
"This time next year I'll be moving him into college," added Jeff. "I'll probably cry like a baby. I have a little soft side, but we're going to enjoy this season. I'm going to enjoy coaching him."
The father-son duo will begin their quest for a third consecutive state title this upcoming Friday night when the Vikings host Rocky Mount at 7 p.m.
As for whether or not Clay will play football at the next level, he says he's not sure at this point but did mention the possibility of walking on at N.C. State.
For more on Craddock, check out the video above! (Feature airs Tuesday during WITN Sports at 6:20 p.m.)
NOTE: If you have a student-athlete that you would like to nominate as a WITN Pepsi Player of the Week, please email a bio to Tyler Feldman at firstname.lastname@example.org.