CHAPEL HILL (NCHSAA) – The stage was set for a showdown in the 1A State Championship match as the Tarboro Vikings and Mount Airy Granite Bears clashed in the state finals in 2017 and 2022, each having claimed a victory over the other in previous championship matches. On Saturday, Mount Airy walked away with its ninth NCHSAA Football State Championship with a 21-3 win at Kenan Memorial Stadium on the University of North Carolina campus.
In a defensive stalemate, a highlight from the first quarter came from an impressive punt from Tarboro’s Oscar Perez Gaspar, who launched a 55-yarder landing just shy of the 5-yard line.
Gaspar also provided the first points of the game in the second quarter, finishing a seven-play, 17-yard drive with a 39-yard field goal. In the final minute of the half, Tarboro’s defense made a goal line stand and the Granite Bears missed a 21-yard field goal attempt, securing a 3-0 Tarboro lead at the break.
In the third quarter, Deric Dandy was credited with a crucial tackle as went for it on fourth and one. The turnover on downs gave Mount Airy the ball on the Tarboro 29-yard line. Capitalizing on the field position, Tyler Mason gave the game its first touchdown with a 12-yard run after 5 plays, propelling the Granite Bears to a 7-3 lead.
On the Granite Bears next drive, Ian Gallimore executed a quick shovel pass to Mario Revels for an 89-yard touchdown in the first 15 seconds of the fourth quarter. The momentum continued for the Granite Bears as Gallimore, in a patient 9-play, 32-yard drive, connected a pass to Blake Hawks in the endzone, sealing the championship title for Mount Airy and a 21-3 lead.
Tarboro finished the season with a 13-1 record. This is Tarboro’s 14th appearance in the state finals since their first in 1984, and their 7th consecutive appearance, having had the chance at a state title every year since 2017. The Vikings’ state finals record is 8-6, and they were state runner-ups in 2022 and now 2023.
Mount Airy finished the season with a 16-0 record. This is Mount Airy’s 14th appearance in the final game of the season, having an 9-5 record in their championship appearances since their first in 1935.
The NCHSAA is committed to promoting good sportsmanship and has partnered with the NC Farm Bureau to recognize two athletes from each State Championship event with the NC Farm Bureau Sportsmanship Awards. The Sportsmanship Award winners for the 2023 1A Football State Championship Match were Dee Dawkins from Mount Airy and Shermardra Clark from Tarboro.
The NCHSAA is proud to partner with Wells Fargo to present the Most Valued Player award in the 1A State Championship match to Tyler Mason from Mount Airy. Mason had a stellar performance with 133 rushing yards and a touchdown.
In tandem with the Carolina Panthers, the NCHSAA is proud to present Offensive and Defensive Most Valued Player awards to two players from each team. From Mount Airy, Mario Revels won Offensive MVP, and Ian Gallimore won Defensive MVP. Revels had an average of 8.7 rushing yards per play and 100 receiving yards, while Gallimore finished the game with 104 passing yards, six tackles, and two touchdowns. From Tarboro, Kamerin Mcdowell-Moore won Offensive MVP, and Isaiah Jones won Defensive MVP. McDowell-Moore finished the game with 31 rushing and 11 receiving yards accompanied by 8.5 tackles, while Jones finished the game with 6.5 tackles.