MURPHY, NC (WRCB) -- There will be no wide eyes when Murphy steps onto the field at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh this weekend.
The Bulldogs boarded the bus Thursday morning for a business trip to the NCHSAA Class 1A state championship game.
It's a trip they've taken before.
"We've got just about everybody back from last year, so that should be a tremendous amount of help," said Murphy head coach David Gentry, whose team will be playing in its third straight state final. "They don't seem to be phased by anything anymore. Our win at Albemarle last year kind of set the tone for what this team could do, so hopefully our past experiences can carry us through again."
The Bulldogs (13-2) upset heavily-favored Albemarle on the road last year in the Western Region Final and went on to win their first state title since 1996. They're one win from repeating that feat this year after topping Albemarle on the road 27-24 last week.
After beating Jones County in last year's final, they'll face Plymouth (14-1) in this year's title tilt at 11 a.m. ET Saturday.
An experienced roster returns all but two starters from last year's title team, though one of those was all-state quarterback Seth Curtis.
Sophomore Michael Curry has stepped into the role this year and performed well, aided by a rushing attack that's racked up nearly 5,000 yards on the ground.
"We've been a little up and down this year, but I feel like we've really improved throughout each week of the season," Gentry said. "We had a loss to open the year and one loss late to bigger teams, but once we got into the playoffs we turned it up and have really been playing well."
It would have been easy for the Bulldogs to get complacent after their remarkable run in 2011, but Gentry said motivated his team was never an issue.
Murphy's tradition runs deep, and a program that's already won six state titles in its history is always working to add another.
"The driving force has been to win two in a row the whole time," Gentry said. "There's never been a moment that I've seen them slack off. We've been working to make it two in a row, and now we've got the opportunity to get it done."