DENVER – The first football championship in East Lincoln High’s history was a perfect one.

The Mustangs went 16-0 en route to the N.C. 2A championship, including a late, 80-yard touchdown drive to beat three-time defending champion Tarboro 24-20 in the state final Dec. 1.

East Lincoln’s combination of offensive firepower, experience and focus keyed the perfect season. The offense, led by senior quarterback Garrett Young, averaged 40.8 points. He passed for 3,723 yards and 45 touchdowns, and set several school and county records.

“The championship was a great accomplishment,” Young said. “It’s something we’ll never forget.”

Young had polished targets in receivers Jesse Earnhardt, Tyler Brock and Chaz Surratt. The offensive line – four of five were seniors – blocked well all season.

The defense struggled early in the season, but coach Mike Byus and his staff made adjustments that sparked significant improvement. Linebacker Scott McMichael’s 166 tackles led an aggressive group.

– Cliff Mehrtens