CONCORD – Heading into their big non-conference clash with Class 2A power Clinton on Friday night, Cream of Cabarrus No. 3 Central Cabarrus had one key defensive mission: Stop the run.
The Vikings did that and more, taking a 19-8 win over the Dark Horses, who had been an offensive powerhouse before being tamed by Central’s defensive front.
Clinton featured a trio of good running backs, an offensive scheme focused on running the ball with a combination of power football and difficult to defend with sweeps and pitches, and an offensive line averaging more than 250 pounds.
But Vikings coach Kenneth McClamrock couldn’t have been prouder of his team’s defensive effort.
“We were undersized, but we are not going to be under-hearted,” McClamrock said. “I thought defensively we played our butts off.”
“That team was averaging over 50 points per game. They beat a team (Pamlico County) that played in the state championship last week and scored 70 on them, and we held them to 8.”
The Central Cabarrus linebacker corps led by Logan Anderson and the secondary made several big plays that changed the momentum of the game in the second half. But the real work was done by the Viking’s defensive line, which tallied 12 tackles for loss and pressured the Clinton quarterbacks into hurried throws, resulting in three Central Cabarrus interceptions.
“That’s a good football team, and we knew that if we could make them throw the football we would have a shot,” McClamrock said.
“The defensive back plays were made because of what was happening in front of them. Our defensive line did a fantastic job of getting in and pressuring the quarterback. I thought Native Johnson did a fantastic job pressuring the quarterback. Native has had four straight weeks of just incredible play. He’s played four different positions for us. Our defensive line allowed those DBs to make those plays”.
In addition to Johnson, defensive lineman Nate Frazier and linebackers Anderson, Brooks Lawing and Te’Veon Glover all played key roles in stuffing the Dark Horse game plan.
“Te’Veon played extremely well, and I thought Logan Anderson did a fantastic job in the run game for us. He was hitting guys pretty good tonight,” McClamrock said.
Anderson made the play that changed the momentum of the game.
Trailing 8-6 in the fourth quarter, the Vikings defensive front collapsed the pocket, hitting Dark Horse quarterback Payson King as he released the ball. Anderson floated to his left at the near sideline, stepping in front of the pass for an interception and returning it 37 yards to the Clinton 18-yard line. That set up a Viking score that put them in control of the game.
“Our (defensive) line got to the quarterback, and I caught the (interception) and tried to take it to the house,” Anderson said. “Our defense played great. Our d-line got through the gaps and hit the quarterback a lot. We just straight balled out. We knew they wanted to try to run the ball, so we tried to stop the run as best we could.”
McClamrock highlighted Anderson’s interception as the turning point of the contest, also praising defensive backs Elijah Horton, Kevin Clerge and Mekhi Dunn.
“Logan’s interception was huge as was Elijah’s and Kevin’s interception late,” McClamrock said. “I thought defensively we played lights out, and it put us in a position to put the game away late.”
Now the Vikings will focus on small improvements on the offensive side of the ball heading into South Piedmont 3A Conference play.
“We have this week to regroup, do small things better and to put ourselves in a better situation where we don’t have to wait until the end to win a football game,” McClamrock said.