By RYAN HERMAN
DENVER –– Chazz Surratt is the eager, young quarterback. Coriyo Boyd is a seasoned, veteran lineman. While years apart in experience, together they hope to lead East Lincoln back to the promised land.
The Mustangs opened football practice last week as the defending NCHSAA state 2A champions and with a preseason No. 1 ranking. But the 24-20 December win over three-time defending state champion Tarboro isn’t being discussed much.
That’s because this is a new team with new leaders, like Boyd and Surratt.
“Last year was great, and we’ll never get that team back again. But we have a chance to just get back after it,” Boyd said.
East Lincoln strives to be better in 2013, but it’s not about outdoing what the 2012 team accomplished –– the Mustangs can’t do any better than 16-0.
They are more focused on each individual repetition and each individual down instead, the product of which will be a more cohesive and disciplined unit.
“We know what we did last year,” Boyd said. “We need to fix our mistakes and be a better team.”
Gone is the production of record-setting quarterback Garrett Young and one of his favorite targets in Jesse Earnhardt. But back is a preseason all-state pick by NCPreps.com in Surratt, and he’s in a much more familiar position.
Surratt, a rising sophomore, spent time on the ends last season as a wide receiver due to Young’s talent and leadership, but said he is a natural quarterback –– he’s played the position each year but last, he said.
Surratt had 1,835 total offensive yards and 26 total touchdowns as a freshman, which landed him the all-state selection. But that’s not what’s important.
Getting back under center and leading his team to victories, is.
“I’m excited. Besides last year, I’ve played quarterback every year. I’m more comfortable this year in our system because I know all the plays,” Surratt said.
“I don’t really think too much about (the preseason hype). I don’t really focus about it too much. I just play football and everything else doesn’t really matter right now. Just winning games.”
Since Mike Byus took over the program in 2005, all the Mustangs have done is win.
East Lincoln has 84 victories under Byus, never winning fewer than seven games in a season under his leadership.
Under the leadership of Boyd and Surratt, the ninth-year head coach feels his program is in good hands.
“Both of the kids are, athletically, just amazing. They’re kids that are amazing people and players,” Byus said. “Both of them understand the importance of an offseason work ethic. They understand how to work at practice and get better each day. And they understand the strategies of the game.
“They’re both good students and they’re both really, really good kids.”
Boyd, a 6-foot-2, 320-pound lineman who said he already has an offer from Wofford College, would like nothing more than to graduate with a second state championship ring.
But to get to the title game on Dec. 14, Boyd knows the road to glory starts with the first step.
“It’s no secret that we won a state championship last year. We just want to do it again. (It made us want) to come back harder,” Boyd said. “Win Game 1, get a first down, don’t let them score. Then win Game 2. One game at a time, one first down at a time.
“Just the first play and nothing else.”
Surratt’s only goal is to win.
“I don’t feel any pressure. Obviously there is, coming in behind Garrett (Young). I don’t really think about it too much. I just come in and play my game and just do what I know to do. I don’t really think about anything much besides that,” he said.
“I don’t really have any individual goals. I just set out to try and win the game at all costs. It doesn’t matter what my statistics are. I’m just a winner. That’s what I do.”