Special to LTN
DENVER — East Lincoln quarterback Garrett Young had one goal in mind Friday night and it had nothing to do with two passing records well within reach when his Mustangs took the field against Wheatmore in the first round of the 2A state playoffs.
Young eclipsed both marks, but it was the Mustangs’ 49-0 victory that meant the most to the senior quarterback.
“My first two years as quarterback, as a sophomore we got beat in the first round and junior year got beat in the first round,” Young recalled. “So this is great to make it out of the first round. Having the 11-0 season helped us get the No. 1 seed and having home-field advantage.”
The Mustangs will be on their home turf again Friday, hosting Starmount (10-1), which defeated Carver 24-20, on Friday.
There was little doubt after the opening kickoff that East Lincoln would win Friday, the biggest question lingering at David Clark Stadium was when Young would break the East Lincoln single-season passing yards record and then the Lincoln County career passing yards mark.
He broke the East Lincoln record with an 11-yard toss to Chaz Surratt in the final minute of the first half and eclipsed the county record on a 68-yard touchdown pass to Surratt on the Mustangs’ first possession of the second half.
“Those were always hopes and dreams, but that’s something I never (thought about),” Young said of the passing records. “I was just going with it. I guess it happened. I had a bunch of great weapons throughout the years, a bunch of great athletes I could just get the ball to and Coach (Mike) Byus, he just handed it over to me. He let me stand back there and throw the football. He knew I could do it and he put me in the right spots. That was a big thing for the record.”
Byus was pleased for Young, but noted there’s still more for the Mustangs to accomplish.
“That worked out well,” East Lincoln coach Mike Byus said of Young’s records. “The only thing he has left — he doesn’t have the county single season. That’s the only thing. If we play two more rounds, he should get it. We’re trying to win games and Garrett will be the first one to tell you that I’m more interested in us winning a game.”
East Lincoln dominated Wheatmore in every area. Young threw for 342 yards, giving him 6,020 career yards, and the Mustangs churned out 248 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, the Warriors (5-7) managed just two first downs and 10 total yards against a suffocating Mustangs defense. East Lincoln forced three turnovers — a fumble recovery by Christian Tyson-Bryant and interceptions by Damarius Valentine and Clay Hodges.
“They trust us and we trust them,” Young said of the defense. “We know they’re going to go out there and hit them hard and get stops and they know we’re going to put points on the board. That combination is tough to beat.”
Young threw five touchdown passes before exiting after East Lincoln’s second possession of the third quarter. Surratt caught two of them — from 14 and 68 yards — while Tyler Brock (17 yards), Jake Driver (35 yards) and Jesse Earnhardt (16 yards) added the others. Valentine closed out the scoring with a 56-yard sprint up the middle in the third quarter.
While Young has unfinished business left this season, Surratt has given Mustangs’ fans snapshots of the future all season and that was never more evident than Friday night when the 6-foot, 175-pound freshman was electric with the ball in his hands.
Surratt put the Mustangs ahead 7-0 with a 26-yard run and caught the two touchdown tosses from Young. He ran for 81 yards on seven carries and caught seven passes for 130 yards. On the 68-yard scoring play, Surratt caught the ball around midfield, shed a couple of would-be tacklers, and with an array of jukes and then just flat-out speed, beat most of the Warriors defense to the end zone.
“(Young) checked out of the play,” said Surratt, who has played six positions for the Mustangs this season, including quarterback for the two games Young missed with a knee injury. “I was supposed to slant and he called a go. He has the ability to read the coverages — he’s a good quarterback and I just happened catch it and break away.”
Last season, East Lincoln traveled to Starmount in the opening round and returned with a 21-13 loss that still stings and certainly will be on the Mustangs’ mind during preparation this week.
“The good thing is we made enough mistakes where we still go in there watch the film and keep the kids grounded on things we need to work on,” Byus said.