Red Raiders send emphatic message
T.W. Andrews perhaps had something to prove. Since losing to High Point Central in the first week of the season, it won five straight games handily and moved into the state 2A rankings. That was easy fodder for detractors.
The Red Raiders (6-1, 2-0 PAC-6 2A), however, proved just how well they really have been playing in beating Randleman, which was 6-1 coming in and a perennial contender in the conference, 42-10 on homecoming Friday night at A.J. Simeon Stadium.
“Everybody was saying we weren’t playing anybody,” Andrews senior quarterback Lamar Raynard. “They had a 6-1 record, and we knew we had to take it to them and let everyone know we’re for real. So, we beat them 42-10 — that’s a pretty good score.”
If the Red Raiders can beat Eastern Randolph (5-3, 2-0) Friday in Simeon Stadium, they would be well on their way to sweeping their second straight PAC-6 title and earning a high playoff seed, which would likely keep them at home for much of the playoffs.
“It’s going to come down to us and them for the conference — that’s the way it is,” Andrews coach Rodney McKoy said of Eastern Randolph. “You’ve got to play the games on your schedule. And it really helped us to start off the schedule against some tough teams.”
ANDREWS OFFENSE OVERWHELMS
The Red Raiders are known for their running attack — featuring, in large part, Marquell Cartwright and Rontei Wilkes. For much of the early season, they’ve been so effective that they haven’t needed much in the passing game.
When called upon, though, Raynard played well in helping Andrews’ big win against Randleman. He completed 8 of 11 passes for 122 yards and three touchdowns, hitting Justin Lea four times for 56 yards and two TDs.
“We knew the linebackers like to blitz a lot,” Raynard said. “So, we wanted to jet them — we were really good at that. And then Cartwright and Rontei did really well. So, we did great as a whole, and the O-line did awesome.”
Cartwright and Wilkes helped set the tone in the first quarter, each running for a long TD. That drew the Tigers’ attention and allowed Raynard plenty of time to look downfield, laying passes in perfectly to his receivers to make plays in a breakout game for the aerial attack.
“It was big,” Raynard said of establishing the running game early, “because when they ran the ball everyone came up. That opened it up for the passing game. Sometimes, I didn’t see it, so I had to run. We just did a great job, and I’m so happy.”
McKoy added: “Part of it’s been that we’ve had big leads against teams, and he really hasn’t had a chance to throw the ball nearly as much as he would’ve. This was a game we knew we had to have to win the conference. We knew we’d have to play well, and we did.”
KEY CONFERENCE RACES TIGHTEN
With its loss to Northwest Guilford on last Friday, High Point Central joined a four-way tie in second place with Glenn, Ragsdale and East Forsyth one game behind the Vikings. With East and Northwest still to play Nov. 8, that leaves open the possibility of any of those four teams at least tying for the Piedmont Triad 4A Conference title.
For the three area teams, Central, which has lost three games by a total of five points, has Ragsdale, Glenn and Southwest Guilford remaining. Glenn has Northwest, Central and Ragsdale left, while Ragsdale has Central, East and Glenn remaining. So, with several key head-to-head games left, there are plenty of opportunities for them to catch Northwest. But East and Northwest will still likely be the biggest.
In the Mid-Piedmont 3A, with two conference games remaining, Ledford has an opportunity to really mix things up. After facing nonconference East Rowan this week, the Panthers, who are 1 1/2 games back of the lead, has second-place Southern Guilford and first-place North Forsyth to end the regular season. If they win either one — or both — they would be in position to be among the top couple teams in the conference.
In the Central Carolina 2A, with its win over East Davidson, Thomasville remains tied with state-ranked and undefeated North Rowan for the conference lead. The Bulldogs have Salisbury, North Rowan and Lexington left. So, with Salisbury and Lexington combining for one win so far this season, Thomasville can pretty much pin its hopes of a seventh conference title in nine years on its Nov. 1 meeting with North Rowan.