Mt. Tabor captures first state title with dream season

Mt. Tabor won their first state championship for football in school history.

Mt. Tabor captures first state title with dream season
May 12
12:40 2021

In a season that was totally unpredictable and unprecedented, the Spartans of Mount Tabor were crowned 3A Football State Champions after defeating Cleveland High School 24-16 to cap off an undefeated 11-0 season.

This was the first state championship in football for the Spartans, which is hard to believe because of the school’s rich tradition in the sport. Spartan head coach and former player, Tiesuan Brown, has been at the helm for four years and says the state championship was the goal from the beginning of the season.

“My first year we went 11-2 and went to the third round of the playoffs, the next year was the Albright year and started off 1-4 and went on to win nine games straight and made it to the final four. Then my third year we went 9-5 and made it to the third round, so this year for our seniors, it was nothing left to do but to win it all,” said Brown about his journey to the championship.  

“We knew that we had the players, we knew we had the defense, and I brought in coach (Laymarr) Marshall to work with the offense and that was the last piece. Once he got in and got his system put in, it really bloomed for Tyress McIntyre and he really excelled in that offense. I talked with coach Marshall last night and he said Tyress is one of his favorite quarterbacks of all time.”

One of the best qualities of this Mt. Tabor team was their ability to adapt. No matter what was required, the team was able to adapt and adjust to any circumstances to obtain the victory.  He credits his staff for getting his kids ready to play every week.

“I feel like I have the best coaching staff in the state,” said Brown. “I had four offensive coordinators on my offensive staff and two defensive coordinators on staff and I am a defensive coordinator.  

“Our kids are battle-tested; they have been in a lot of wars. They played the toughest schedule in North Carolina their first three years. They have had all the highs and all the lows, so it was nothing that we haven’t seen.”

Throughout the season, Brown says the team continued to get better. For quarterback Tyress McIntyre, Brown feels he really came into his own and gained the necessary confidence after the first Dudley game.

“As the weeks went along, we got more confident in the offense and it started showing in the playoffs and that’s when you want to be clicking,” he said. “As a coach, I knew we had to get better to get to where we wanted to go.”

According to Brown, he was adamant about playing the season even though there was some uncertainty to begin the year. He says the commitment from his players prior to the season beginning told him that they were ready to win.

The running game really led the way for the Spartan offense this year. B.J. McIntyre was the feature back for the offense, but Kobie Perez, a transfer student from Northeast Guilford, provided the power needed to wear down a defense or gain tough yards in short yardage situations.

“He brought that power and that thunder,” said Brown about Perez. “If anyone on the team was a dog, he was a dog and he was hard to bring down. A lot of times when he got tackled, the whistle would blow and he wouldn’t even hit the ground. So, with his physicality and B.J.’s speed, those two back there were dangerous. On top of that, Noah Marshall would come in and run the ball. Noah is a big kid and explosive.”

Perez has a family tradition at Mt. Tabor. Many of his relatives not only went to the school, many of them played for the football team as well. As a senior, he wanted to carry on the family tradition and leave a lasting impression. Perez also played part of the season with a high ankle sprain and battled sciatica, but never missed a game.

“My goal was to get first downs, try to gain as many yards as I can each time, and help my teammates win,” Perez said. “It feels great to win it, but I feel like they could have won without me, but I am happy to be a part of this team because they are really good.

“It was a goal that I had and I really didn’t think I was going to get that at the old school I was at. When I came to Mt. Tabor, I saw that they all wanted to win, so I was confident all year about us winning one.”

The playmakers were not limited to the running backs either. The Spartans had speed at quarterback and wide receiver with McIntyre and Lance Patterson as well.

“On the outside, you had Lance Patterson running the jet sweep, you always had to respect that and if you didn’t, he was going to make you pay for it,” Brown continued. “We also had a great runner at quarterback too. Between B.J. McIntyre, Noah Marshall, Lance Patterson and Tyress McIntyre, all of them run a 4.5 and below in the 40-yard dash and Kobie was the thunder, he softened defenses up.”

As a junior, Patterson says he felt it was his year to break out. He was a starter last year, but took a backseat to the upperclassmen, so this year he thought it was ‘his time to shine,’ he said.  

“This year was my year as a second-year starter,” said Patterson. “I was playing both ways and special teams, so I knew I had to make plays this year.”

The Spartans dominated most of their opponents this season, but two of their toughest games were against the Dudley Panthers. The Spartans won the first matchup 9-6, so heading into the regional championship game against Dudley, Mt. Tabor knew they had to play well.

“We have played Dudley six times since I have been the head football coach and a lot of people forget that we beat them twice last year and put them out of the playoffs,” said Brown. “We had confidence going into the game and I told the kids, ‘Listen, we have beaten these kids five straight times, but if they win this game, they are going to party on this field and they can erase all five of those losses with this one win.’

“That’s the pressure we had on us, but we always believed that they couldn’t beat us and that’s how we played. Even when we were down that game, the vibe on the sideline was like ‘That’s OK, we are going to come back.’ Everyone down to the kicker knew that we were coming back.”

That confidence carried over into the state championship game against Cleveland. The Spartans made the necessary plays to win the game. Brown says he wasn’t even able to watch the clock run out, because he was bombarded by the media and players before the game was even over.

“I am going to be honest with you, I never even saw the clock hit zero,” said Brown. “The media, my players and everybody was grabbing me before the game was even over. Once we knew we were going to go into victory formation and take a knee, everybody kind of rushed me.

“At that moment, it was surreal, like, we did it. We talked about this, we did it. I was really proud that I was the first coach to win it here at Mt. Tabor. I told Mr. Weiss, Bob Sapp, the whole athletic administration, that was in there during the hiring process, the last thing I said to them was, ‘no disrespect coach Sapp, but I am going to be the first head coach here to win a state championship.’  Four years later I proved it and I told Ed right after the game, ‘aren’t you glad you made that decision four years ago?’”

As a former player at Mt. Tabor, Brown stated it means even more to him being the first one to win a state championship in football for the school.

“I told the kids that thing came back around full circle,” Brown said about winning the championship.  “I am a Spartan for the rest of my life.  I love Mt. Tabor; I bleed blue and gold.  To bring that thing back home, it took a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication and sacrifice.”

Brown says this is the best defenses he has had since he has been the head coach.  He went even further and said this was the best team ever at Mt. Tabor.  He wasn’t referencing just the talent, because there have been more talented Spartan teams, but collectively he feels this was the best team.

Patterson was named MVP of the state championship game.  He accounted for 240 all-purpose yards, three touchdowns, oneinterception and one fumble recovery.  Brown feels he is one of the best players in the state and proved it on the biggest stage.

“That was a historical performance he put on in the state championship game,” Brown said about Patterson.  “That’s going to go down in the history books.  It might not be the best like TJ Logan, but the way he did it in all phases of the game was impressive.

“This dude Lance is one of the best in the state. I am not even comparing him to the dudes in the city anymore and he proved that on Thursday night.”

Patterson said he knew during the state championship game they were going to key on McIntyre in the run game, so he had to make plays in the open field.  

“I didn’t really process it until I got home and woke up the next morning and saw my phone blowing up,” he said about the championship game.  “That game was huge for me and took my stock up.  My coach said it was my time to shine.”

Brown says he knows they are losing some talented players to graduation, but wants everyone to know that the ‘well is not dry’ and they have several underclassmen ready to step up and play prominent roles next season.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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