Young’s arm and determination led to a dream season
by Cliff Mehrtens
DENVER – Garrett Young’s season nearly ended in late September. His kneecap was dislocated and he missed almost two full games.
Young, a senior quarterback at East Lincoln High, was second in the state in passing yards when he limped off. He worked diligently to rehabilitate his knee enough to return. Surgery was postponed. Young wore a knee brace the rest of the season, shattered several passing records and led the Mustangs to a 16-0 record and a state championship.
He is the Denver Weekly’s Football Offensive Player of the Year.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Young said, referring to his injury. “I just knew I had to get back as soon as possible. But, I wanted to be able to move and get set in the pocket.”
Young returned with a vengeance. He finished with 3,723 passing yards and 45 touchdowns, school and Lincoln County records. He directed an offense that averaged 40.8 points.
Young had three games with five touchdown passes and three other games with four scoring throws. He also became Lincoln County’s career passing leader with 6,766 yards and 83 touchdowns.
Young said the records were nice, but the state championship was what he’d cherish.
It was the first state title and undefeated season in East Lincoln history. It didn’t come easily.
East Lincoln, trailing by three points in the fourth quarter, covered 80 yards in 10 methodical plays for the winning touchdown in the 24-20 victory against Tarboro in the N.C. 2A championship game Dec. 1.
The winning score came when Young threw a perfect strike on a 13-yard slant to wideout Tyler Brock for a touchdown.
Young was named the state championship’s Most Valuable Offensive Player after completing 18-of-36 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
“I just brought the team together before that last drive,” he said. “I told them, ‘This is where you want to be, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but with you guys.”
The jubilant Mustangs’ bus rolled back into Denver that night with a fire engine escort and fans cheering in the streets.
“I had a headache because I’d gotten my bell rung in the third quarter,” Young said. “But it was a great ride back.”
Young directed an East Lincoln offense that averaged 402 yards per game. He had excellent targets in receivers Jesse Earnhardt, Tyler Brock and Chaz Surratt. The offensive line, which included four experienced seniors, provided Young with plenty of protection.
The Mustangs scored 24 or more points in every game except the one in which Young was injured.
“We trusted each other and became a team,” Young said. “It’s not about yelling, it’s about picking up your teammates. If I threw an interception, I heard ‘Hey, get the next one.’ Or if the defense made a mistake, we told them ‘Don’t worry.’
“We all played for each other. It was all about winning as a team.”