Red Raiders look to write championship story
The Red Raiders find themselves enjoying another storybook season, one that looks remarkably like last year’s football campaign.
All that remains is for T. Wingate Andrews to rewrite the ending.
“Last year we won 11 straight games,” Raiders coach Rodney McKoy said. “This year our goal is to win 14 straight.”
Andrews certainly appears poised for a state championship run in the wake of Friday night’s 73-14 win over Trinity to cap the regular season. For the second straight year, Andrews swept to perfection in the PAC-6 2A Conference. For the second straight year, Andrews won nine straight after opening with a loss to High Point Central.
The Raiders reached the third round of the playoffs last November before falling 36-35 to Salisbury. Andrews led by 20 points in that bitter defeat.
“We talk about it a lot … but we don’t,” senior defensive lineman Travis Watson said. “We don’t want to go back and make the same mistakes. We want to become a better team and hopefully we’ll get the ring this year.”
Watson was part of an impressive defense on Senior Night that limited Trinity to 31 yards of offense on 35 plays in the first half. Opponents are scoring less than 10 points per game against the Red Raiders.
As good as the defense is, the offense has proved unstoppable. Thanks to the 73-point outburst against Trinity — a number that included 54 points in the first half and a touchdown on the final play of the game — the Raiders now average more than 50 points per game.
Senior Marquell Cartwright had five scoring runs against the Bulldogs, ranging from 3 to 39 yards. He was quick to deflect credit for his big night.
“It all starts at the front line,” Cartwright said. “Our big boys are working well.”
Keeping the momentum going against Trinity was important to the Raiders, who wanted to enjoy Senior Night yet also keep working for the playoffs.
“It was a night for us, a night we expected,” Cartwright said. “We have to make sure we have everything in order, don’t have any mess-ups.”
And that’s the message McKoy has been preaching, especially when it comes to avoiding the mistakes that proved so costly in the Salisbury game last year.
“You’ve got to finish. You can’t take your foot off the gas pedal in the game, and we sort of did that against Salisbury,” said McKoy, who has made sure his players know just how special they are this year: “You want to make history. You’ve got an opportunity to win a state championship.”
Trinity, meanwhile, just missed the playoffs. The Bulldogs won four games, but only one in conference play, which allowed other four-win teams to advance instead. Despite the lopsided loss in the finale, there was plenty to please coach Clayton Trivet. The Bulldogs won their first three games and suffered heartbreaking defeats in two other close calls.
After three straight one-win seasons, a first playoff berth since 2009 would have been nice. But Trivet likes the direction in which his team is headed.
“I’m proud of them,” he said. “We’ve harped on them all offseason about not being the same old Trinity. The kids didn’t quit.”