The Tarboro Vikings ruled the Eastern Plains Conference this season in football. They won the conference for the third time in four years and dominated every opponent that they faced. They ran the table going 6-0.
With their great performances during the season came rewards. The rewards were two Player of the Year awards and a Coach of the Year. Quentin Roberson received the Offensive Player of the Year, Travonne Marshall was Defensive Player of the Year and head coach Jeff Craddock was named Coach of the Year.
Roberson was the go to guy who was asked to carry the ball for the Vikings the season in hopes of leading them to another superb season. He did just that and with that came a large quantity of yards and touchdowns during his performances over the season. Roberson missed two games this season but still piled up the numbers out of the back field.
Roberson rushed for 1,960 yards on 187 carries and scored 27 times. Coming into the season, Craddock told him that he was going to have to carry the mail for the Vikings this season and be a huge impact leader on the offensive side of the ball.
"Quentin has been a great player for us and was huge for us this season," Craddock said. "He was one of the kids I was concerned about early on in his career because I didn't know which way he was going to go. He matured a lot over the course of his career and was instrumental for us this season."
Roberson didn't see much action in the back field last season, because the Vikings had a lot of players in that position, but he came on this year and exploded from the beginning of the season and never looked back.
"It was rewarding for him during his senior year after he was patient during his junior season," Craddock said. "It was very nice for him to introduce himself to the scene this year and give us more then what he did."
Roberson was the go to guy in the majority of the Vikings games this season and rushed for over 200 yards in five games. He had a spectacular performance during the state championship game where he rushed for 202 yards and scored twice. He was named the Offensive Player of the Game for the Vikings.
Marhsall was a very big impact player for the Vikings this season on both sides of the ball. He was notcied all season for what he did on the defense, but a lot people didn't realize the type of impact he had on offense. Marshall was the key leading blocker out of the back field this season which helped Roberson and Radja Bobbitt gain the majority of their yards. Marshall played for the Vikings for just one season, but made his impact known during that time.
"I sure wished I could have had him here since he was a freshman," Craddock said. "That says a lot about him. He is a special player and just a good kid."
The explosive impact that Marshall brought to the table for Tarboro was on defense though. He amazed and wowed many coaches, opposing players and fans with his forceful and dangerous hits. He led the team with over 120 tackles this season and had three interceptions.
When Marshall came to Tarboro this season, Craddock didn't know what roles he would play for the Vikings, but Marshall made a quick and lasting impression on the coaching staff.
"I didn't expect that type of impact from him with just one season in our program," Craddock said. "He has been a joy to watch and I hope our fans appreciated what he brought to the table."
Marshall had special qualities, which included leadership, intensity and passion for the game that were unmatched. He came in and blended right in with the entire program and didn't want the spot light. He just wanted to be a part of a championship team.
"You just don't see it happen very often with the type of play he brought and the outstanding leadership he gave us," Craddock said. "He was just a true blessing to our school and to our football team."
Marshall was a hard nosed player when he was at Northern Nash, but while at Tarboro he began to get noticed. Marshall and Craddock have sent films to numerous colleges in hopes of getting him into school to continue to play football. Film has been sent to East Carolina, Appalachian State and Chowan. The options are open for Marshall.
Craddock received another award for his coaching performances this season, but he isn't a coach who likes to take all the credit. He has said time after time, that if it wasn't for his coaching staff there would be no Tarboro football. He was named Coach of the Year once again.
"To win the award it is nice, but it is a reflection of the people I have with me," Craddock said. "I can't coach this team on my own and I couldn't do what we do without the help I get from my coaching staff. Every single coach I have is very important to me and to the program."
Craddock credits the majority of the Vikings success to the coaching staff, because of all of the hard work that they put into the season. The job is a year around job, but for six months it is a seven day a week job that requires a lot of time.
"I enjoy the staff that we have in place here because all of us get along so great," Craddock said. "This is just a result of our hard work that has paid off."
Craddock said the award is an individual award, but he doesn't look at it that way. He looks at it as being a team award, because it takes everyone in the program, from coaches to players to make that possible.
"Without everybody doing what I need them to do then their is no coach of the year," Craddock said. "The award usually goes to a coach who has a pretty good football team. If you don't have that then no one is interested in what you are doing with the program."
Craddock has been blessed with a well rounded staff that includes young to very experienced coaches. He and his coaching staff are on the same page the majority of the time and know exactly what each other is thinking in certain situations, because they spend a lot of time together during the season going over every possible scenario that they could be facing.
Craddock is already looking forward to next season and said that team will be ready to make their own mark in the Vikings program.