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Mission Accomplished: Granite Bears capture 1A State Championship

RALEIGH — Mount Airy won the 2022 1A State Championship on Dec. 10 by defeating two-time defending state champion Tarboro 20-7.

The Granite Bears captured their eighth state title in school history, joining the following Mount Airy teams: 1935, 1938, 1942, 1946, 1948, 1968 and 2008.

Mount Airy (15-1) scored on the game’s opening drive, with junior Tyler Mason running in his first of three rushing touchdowns. The Bears’ lead increased to 20-0 before the Vikings’ Kamerin McDowell-Moore found the end zone late in the third quarter.

Tarboro forced a Mount Airy punt then went on a 16-play drive that lasted from the 1:11 mark of the third quarter to the 5:58 mark of the fourth quarter. The Vikings converted on fourth down three times on the drive to reach the Bears’ 29-yard line, but then a fumble caused and recovered by Granite Bear junior Walker Stroup put the game on ice.

“I’m so thankful, so blessed to be surrounded by these guys and those guys in the locker room; I love these guys,” said Mount Airy coach J.K. Adkins. “[They’ve got] hearts of champions and they showed that tonight.

“I’m proud of our team, I’m very prideful for our community and for our school. This is an awesome, awesome experience and I just feel blessed.”

Mason was named the Most Valuable Player of the championship game, finishing with a game-high 139 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns on 23 carries. The junior also had one punt return for 30 yards, a kickoff return for 31 yards, and six tackles.

Stroup was named Mount Airy’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player, finishing with nine total tackles, one caused fumble and one fumble recovery. Junior Caleb Reid was named Mount Airy’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player, finishing with nine carries for 43 yards.

The 2022 1A Football N.C. Farm Bureau Sportsmanship Award winners were Joshua Bradley from Tarboro and Josh Chavis from Mount Airy.

Tarboro’s only two losses to 1A opponents since 2017 have come against teams from Surry County. East Surry defeated Tarboro in the 2019 1AA State Championship to stop the Vikings short of a three-peat, just as Mount Airy did in 2022.

“We’ve been to six straight, which is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Tarboro coach Jeff Craddock. “Fortunately we’ve won four out of six, which is pretty good, but unfortunately we lost the one tonight.

On his team, Craddock said: “They don’t have to hang their heads for anything. Yeah, we came up short today. In life you come up short sometimes. It’s hard, but it’s life.”

Defense wins championships

The state championship was held at N.C. State University’s Carter-Finley Stadium, which was also the site of the 2017 1AA Championship game between Mount Airy and Tarboro.

The rematch five years later saw Mount Airy’s defense put on a historic performance. By holding the Vikings to just 7 points – 20 fewer than any other game this season – the Bears’ victory marks the first time in more than 15 years that Tarboro was held to fewer than 10 points by a team in the same state classification.

The last team to do so was Goldsboro, who defeated Tarboro 20-0 on Oct. 5, 2007. Both schools were part of the 2A classification at the time.

Tarboro (13-2) finished with 179 total yards of offense, all of which came on the ground. Quarterback Omarion Lewis only attempted three passes: two fell incomplete and one was intercepted by Granite Bear junior Mario Revels.

Only two 1A teams have held Tarboro to less than 180 total yards since the Vikings became a 1A school in 2013: James Kenan on Nov. 27, 2015 (161 total) and Mount Airy on Dec. 10, 2022 (179 total).

“I think one of our identities over the past two years has been a tremendous defense,” Adkins said. “We were good at stopping the run and the pass, and anytime you have that you have a chance to win on any given night. Our coaching staff – Darron and Austin Taylor and the rest of those guys – they do a tremendous job each week of game planning.

“I think the biggest thing we do is we play with tremendous effort. We’ve got guys playing both ways. You see it at the end of the game, when we needed a stop we found a way to get the ball stopped. I think our effort level sets us apart.”

The Granite Bear defense stepped up and made stops even when injuries threw a wrench in their usual starting lineup. Caden Joyce, who plays on both the offensive and defensive lines, went down with an injury against Draughn, while Deric Dandy, Mount Airy’s leader in tackles for a loss, sacks and QB hurries, left the state championship in the first quarter.

Tarboro was held to 54 yards of offense in the first half, picking up three first downs in the first quarter and none in the second.

Viking freshman Kamerin McDowell-Moore highlighted Tarboro’s offense and was named the team’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player. McDowell-Moore finished with 119 yards on 25 carries, and sophomore Mason Satterfield added seven carries for 42 yards and a touchdown.

No other Viking player averaged more than 1.8 yards per carry.

‘Special Teams was huge’

Special teams also played a factor all night.

Tarboro punted four times in Saturday’s game: the first rolled all the way to the 1-yard line, but then the next one was blocked by Webster, the following punt was returned by Mason to the Viking 14 to set up his second score, and the next was blocked by Mount Airy freshman D.J. Joyce in the third quarter to set up Mason’s final score.

Craddock said the two blocked punts resulted from a “lack of execution.”

“We looked at the film and we knew that we were a lot better than them in special teams,” Adkins said. “We wanted to get after it and try to get to the football, and if we couldn’t we wanted to get away from the ball because their punts typically didn’t travel very far.

“I thought special teams was huge. Walker flipped the field several times.”

Stroup punted three times for 119 yards, averaging 39.7 yards per kick.

Bears run away with the win

Mount Airy’s offense also stayed primarily on the ground, with junior quarterback Ian Gallimore only attempting four passes.

Gallimore made his lone completion to Revels at a key time: on third down when the Bears were backed up on their own 4-yard line. Craddock referenced that drive in his post-game comments, saying a stop there could’ve given Tarboro a short field down just 7-0 – potentially changing the flow of the game from that point on.

Mason’s 23 carries are the most in any game of his career. His 139 yards accounted for 63.8% of Mount Airy’s 218 total yards, while also giving Mason his 11th game this season of at least 100 yards rushing.

Mason finishes the year with 49 rushing touchdowns. This not only gives Mason the most rushing touchdowns in the state among all classifications this season, but ties him for No. 6 all-time in NCHSAA history.

Mason tied the mark set by Nyheim Hines – who currently plays for the Buffalo Bills – at Garner in 2013.

“I was seeing my lineman really get off the ball,” Mason said. “I was seeing holes well and I used those holes to my advantage to get up the field. I just came out hot.”

Gallimore and Reid combined for 15 carries for 63 yards, and the Bears had -14 yards go against the team.

Craddock commended the Vikings defense for holding Mount Airy, a team that averaged 50.5 points coming into the state championship, to 20 – the Bears’ lowest point total of the season next to a 14-12 loss to East Surry.

“We played good enough defense to win the game, we just didn’t execute enough on offense or special teams and that cost us the game,” Craddock said.

After Mount Airy scored on its initial drive, Tarboro forced punts on two of the Bears’ next three possessions as well as a turnover-on-downs. Then in the second half the Vikings forced an interception and a late punt.

“Our guys didn’t quit,” Craddock said. “They fought to the end. I was very proud of their effort, but at the end of the day we didn’t play the game we needed to play to beat a great team like Mount Airy.”

The Redeem Team

Mount Airy’s 2021 season ended in the fourth round of the 1A State Playoffs.

The Granite Bears fell 21-14 to Mitchell at home in a year that they felt they could compete for a state title. Instead, Mitchell went on to win the 1A West Regional Championship and finished State Runner-up.

“The pain of the exit versus Michell was real,” Adkins said. “It was real for all of us. We felt like we were better, to be honest. We didn’t get to advance and there were reasons for it.

“Sometimes pain promotes growth as painful as that is. We identified the reasons why and we went to work, and the guys have done a tremendous job.”

The ending of the 2021 season stayed with Mount Airy throughout the 2022 campaign. It helped the Granite Bears stay focused on the moment against opponents they felt they should beat, and motivated the players to push through adversity when they faced tough opponents

“I think our composure has been better this season than last season,” Reid said. “We’ve basically had no unsportsmanlike conduct penalties this year. We just go out there and play football, have fun and do our job.”

The Bears came to work every day, and for their efforts will be immortalized as champions.


Mount Airy – 7, 7, 6, 0 = 20

Tarboro – 0, 0, 7, 0 = 7


8:47 MA 7-0 – Tyler Mason 15-yard TD run, Walker Stroup PAT


2:29 MA 14-0 – Tyler Mason 1-yard TD run, Walker Stroup PAT


8:58 MA 20-0 – Tyler Mason 1-yard TD run, PAT no good

3:52 TB 20-7 – Mason Satterfield 9-yard TD run, Clay Craddock PAT


No scoring

Stats via the NCHSAA

Mount Airy Offense


30 yards passing on one completion, one interception

188 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 41 carries

218 total yards


Passing: Ian Gallimore 1-of-4 for 30 yards, one interception

Receiving: Mario Revels one reception for 30 yards

Rushing: Tyler Mason 23 carries for 139 yards, three touchdowns; Caleb Reid 9 carries for 43 yards; Ian Gallimore 6 carries for 20 yards; Team three carries for -14 yards

Kicking: Walker Stroup 2-of-3 PATs, three punts for 119 yards (39.7 average)

Mount Airy Defense

Total Tackles: Ian Gallimore 14, Connor Burrell 9, Walker Stroup 9, Caleb Reid 9, D.J. Joyce 7, Jonah Bilyeu 7, Tyler Mason 6, Cam’Ron Webster 5, Third Floyd 5, Landon Cox 3, Logan Fonville 2, Deric Dandy 2, Mario Revels 1

Tackles for a loss: Jonah Bilyeu 1.5, Landon Cox 1, Cam’Ron Webster 1, D.J. Joyce 1, Ian Gallimore 0.5

Caused Fumbles: Walker Stroup 1

Recovered Fumbles: Walker Stroup 1

Interceptions: Mario Revels 1

QB Hurries: Landon Cox 1, Cam’Ron Webster 1

Sacks: Landon Cox 1

Blocked Punts: D.J. Joyce 1, Cam’Ron Webster 1

Tarboro Offense


Zero yards passing, one interception

179 yards rushing on 50 carries, one touchdown

179 total yards


Passing: Omarion Lewis 0-of-3 for zero yards, one interception

Receiving: None

Rushing: Kamerin McDowell-Moore 25 carries for 119 yards; Mason Satterfield seven carries for 42 yards, one touchdown; Bruce Shipman Jr five carries for 9 yards; Tremaine McDaniels four carries for 7 yards, Christian Gunter three carries for 4 yards; Omarion Lewis six carries for -2 yards

Kicking: Cole Craddock 1-of-1 PATs

Tarboro Defense

Total Tackles: Isaiah Jones 9, Omarion Lewis 8, Jamarion Smith 7, Shermardra Clark 5, Jamarion Dozier 4, Melvin Sherrod 3, Tra’kevious Jones 3, Quaytavious Jones 3, Tremaine McDaniels 2, Nathan Sherrod 1, Cole Craddock 1, Bruce Shipman Jr. 1, Joshua Bradley 1, Mason Satterfield 1

Tackles for a loss: Tremaine McDaniels 1, Cole Craddock 1, Shermardra Clark 0.5, Isaiah Jones 0.5

Interceptions: Omarion Lewis 1



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