DENVER — Senior East Lincoln quarterback Garrett Young knew his offense was gaining something special not long after freshman wide receiver Chazz Surratt stepped onto the East Lincoln practice field for the first time in July.
“He could understand where to fit,” Young said. “It’s all about fitting when you’re reading defenses. I wouldn’t have to tell him a route, or it would be a different route, and I would just look, and he would look, and I’d put it in the hole. He knew right where he was supposed to go.”
That knowledge helped Surratt, a 15-year old transfer out of Mount Holly, make an impact for the team immediately. He caught eight passes for 127 yards and a touchdown in the Mustangs’ 35-21 win over Newton-Conover in the first game of the season.
Surratt finished the Mustangs’ undefeated 2A state championship season with 1,095 receiving yards for 12 touchdowns, 467 rushing yards for nine touchdowns and 273 passing yards with four touchdowns. He led the team with three interceptions as a defensive back. He caught one of Young’s two touchdown passes in the Mustangs’ 24-20 win over Tarboro in the 2A state championship game on Dec. 1.
Surratt spent time practicing as a backup quarterback for the Mustangs early in the season, but when a knee injury sidelined Young in the first quarter of East Lincoln’s Week 7 game against Lincolnton, Surratt had to substitute in for a quarterback who had already thrown for over 1,900 yards and 23 touchdowns in the Mustangs’ spread offense.
Surratt led the team to a 13-8 win over Lincolnton, threw for 103 yards and a touchdown and calmed any fears that the Mustangs were offensively inept without Young.
Young, who returned two weeks later for the Mustangs’ 35-21 win over Lake Norman Charter, said he believed, at the time of his injury, that Surratt’s athletic ability would outweigh his inexperience and help lift the team to a win over Lincolnton.
“He’s an athlete,” Young said. “To be a freshman, he’s a crazy athlete. I didn’t know if he was quite there yet, because he hadn’t had much practice time yet, but I knew his athleticism would take us to victory.”
Surratt’s knowledge of a quarterback’s job isn’t all that surprising. He said he’s played under center since childhood. He said the move from middle school football to high school football was a “big transition,” but that the knowledge he gained from Young, Lincoln County’s most prolific quarterback all-time in nearly every statistical category, helped make the move easy.
“He (Young) taught me a lot about how to prepare as a quarterback,” Surratt said. “I was nervous (against Lincolnton) but I felt confident that I could get the job done. I wasn’t going in prepared to play quarterback. The next week I felt confident that we were going to pull out the win.”
Surratt passed for 134 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 91 yards and a touchdown in his first high school start at quarterback in Week 8’s 40-20 win over against West Lincoln.
East Lincoln head coach Mike Byus said Young’s leadership and guidance extended past Suratt and the Mustangs’ receivers to the team as a whole.
“Garrett was good with everybody,” he said. “One of the huge pieces to us putting everything together was Garrett’s willingness to spend time with everybody. Whether it be whatever he had to do to make sure everyone participated in offseason workouts to spending time with them after practice learning the system. Garrett made it a point that he was going to bring everybody in and help them in whatever manner they needed.”
While Surratt may appear to be a natural choice for the Mustangs at quarterback in 2013, Byus said he wasn’t ruling out the possibility of a position battle when the team reconvenes for practices next year.
“I have other kids who would like to do that too, and I don’t want them to quit,” he said. “We have two or three kids who could probably do it. We’re going to have to get into the offseason and the fall camps and scrimmages and see who helps the team function best.”