Bison savor share of PTC 4A crown

Nov. 09, 2013 @ 06:30 PM

Before the season, the High Point Central football team believed it could compete among the top teams in the Piedmont Triad 4A Conference.

Through the final five weeks of the regular season, it proved that it could, clinching a share of its first conference title since 2004 with Friday’s 35-15 win against Southwest Guilford.
“It feels good,” said Bison coach Wayne Jones, who’s been head coach since 2007 and a coach in the program since 1993. “We’d rather have it by ourselves, but it’s one of those things where we haven’t had a conference in a long time.
“So, we’ll take it any way we can get it. We knew had a lot of talent coming in, and we knew we had to be a little bit more focused. One thing I said early was that we had to be more disciplined. It’s just being disciplined and playing hard.”
Central won convincingly against state-ranked East Forsyth and was in position to beat Northwest Guilford, which also cracked the state rankings during the season, before a late fumble ended its chances.
Then, the Bison (8-3, 4-1 PTC), who will likely host at least one home playoff game (starting this Thursday, alternating with Andrews), played well to beat Ragsdale, Glenn — who aided Central by beating Northwest Guilford in week 9 — and Southwest.
“We wanted to do it for the coaches — they’ve been here for years,” said junior quarterback Jamiel Mack, who ran for 91 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 100 yards on 11-of-20 passing.
“We wanted to do it for the seniors. We wanted to do it for the school and the community. We hadn’t won it for so long that it is just relief to at least know you’re tied for first. … We just stayed focused and played team ball.”
On Friday against the Cowboys, the Bison firmly controlled the second and third quarters, scoring 28 straight points. Both sides of the ball performed well — Tim Ward playing particularly well with an interception and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
“We just knew we had to finish,” Mack said. “After halftime, we said: ‘Finish on three — 1, 2, 3, finish.’ And that’s what we had to do. If we want to keep playing in the playoffs, we’re going to have to finish.”
On the other side, Southwest scored early in the second to tie Central. But the Bison forced them into mistakes and the Cowboys couldn’t keep pace. Senior running back/receiver Rick Mack played well, and so did junior quarterback Ericc Cunningham.
The two even connected on an impressive 36-yard strike down the sideline that set up Mack’s 8-yard touchdown with under two minutes left in the game. So, even though Southwest likely missed the playoffs for the third straight year, there were signs of a turnaround.
“I’ve been here eight years (at the school), and at times it looked like they’d give up,” said Cowboys coach Eric Rainey, in his first season as head coach. “That’s the biggest thing for this team.
“From the outside and the inside, everyone says, ‘Your team fights hard.’ That’s a compliment to the kids for buying in to what we do. Despite what the score says, you just keep playing like it’s 0-0.”