Special to The Herald-Sun
RALEIGH — Trai Sharp was as disappointed as any Carrboro football player who walked off the Carter-Finley Stadium field after the Jaguars fell 30-27 to South Iredell in the state 2-AA championship game Saturday night.
But the sophomore running back held his head high, knowing he and his teammates played their hearts out — and knowing the future is solidly in their hands.
Sharp was the Jaguars’ main offensive weapon against South Iredell, carrying 20 times for 62 yards and catching five passes for 91 more yards. Plus, Sharp had 38 yards on returns to pile up a game-high 191 all-purpose yards.
“They were swarming to the ball,” Sharp said. “They played a great game, obviously. I think we played a great game, too. We shouldn’t have our heads hanging. We played a great game, and sometimes your time runs out.”
Time seemed to stand still on a Sharp catch-and-run that helped key a fourth-quarter touchdown drive to put Carrboro ahead 27-23. After quarterback Alex McVeigh scampered 31 yards for a first down to the Vikings 49, Sharp caught an innocuous dump-off pass from McVeigh — and proceeded to make a highlight-reel run.
Sharp snared the ball in the left flat and broke one tackle, darted to the outside, broke another tackle near the sideline and kept going. In all, he shed seven South Iredell tacklers before being brought down after a 21-yard gain.
“It was basically just a pass out of the backfield,” Sharp said. “I was just able to break some tackles and make a play.”
But it was more than that. Carrboro needed plays like that to keep their hopes of a first state championship alive.
“That just shows how much I care about my teammates, what I’ll give to them and how I’ll sacrifice myself for this moment and for them,” Sharp said of his determination. “They’ll do the same for me.”
Sharp did a lot for his teammates in 2012, running for 2,224 yards and 31 touchdowns and catching 21 passes for 391 yards and four more scores in helping lead the Jaguars to the state title game.
“We’re 15-0, a lot because of his feet,” Carrboro coach Jason Tudryn said.
And he’s only a sophomore.
“It’s a bright future when you’ve got classy kids in your program who want to work hard, and they believe in you as a coach,” Tudryn said. “They want to be driven to success. I’m thankful to be their coach.”
Despite the stinging loss, the future was also on Sharp’s mind.
“It was a great experience for the younger kids on the team to see the level of competition and what’s going to happen,” Sharp said of the title game. “To see the short end, there’s going to be a lot of motivation going into next season.”