Andrews, Thomasville, Southern face third-round tests
SALISBURY AT T.W. ANDREWS
Records: No. 2 pod/2 region Salisbury (10-2), 1/1 T.W. Andrews (11-1)
How they got here: Salisbury beat Cuthbertson 27-18 in the first round, Central Davidson 42-14 in the second round; T.W. Andrews beat Piedmont 28-14 in the first round, West Stokes 31-0 in the second round
What to look for: The Red Raiders, winners of 11 straight, have been plowing through opponents with relative ease. After a bit of a scare in round 1 against Piedmont, they played with much better focus and resolve in putting West Stokes away early in round 2. The team that showed up in the second half of week 1 and all of week 2 looked much more like a team capable of going very deep in the playoffs.
Salisbury, winner of nine straight, is a different monster, though. And it might be the toughest opponent Andrews has faced since the first couple weeks of the season — and perhaps all year. It will have to remain disciplined and avoid silly penalties, which have been problematic. But if they play even reasonably well, the Red Raiders, which have played all phases well in recent weeks, are a very tough team to handle.
What’s next: The winner will face either No. 4 Bandys (9-4) or No. 3 South Iredell (11-2) in the regionals
SOUTHERN GUILFORD AT NORTHERN GUILFORD
Records: No. 2 pod/5 region Southern Guilford (11-1), 1/2 Northern Guilford (12-0)
How they got here: Southern Guilford beat Westover 37-12 in the first round, beat Overhills 35-14; Northern Guilford beat Asheboro 69-0 in the first round, Chapel Hill 43-0 in the second round
What to look for: This is a doozy of an opponent for the Storm to face. The Nighthawks haven’t lost since week 1 — of last year. Twenty-six wins and a state title later and here they are, having outscored their opponents 112-0 in the playoffs. So, putting points on the board — which hasn’t been a problem all year by any means — might suddenly be difficult.
That’s if Northern controls the game. Playing Northern’s game is a very tough way to be successful. But if Southern can control the ball and the clock with its running game, it might be able to do some really good things. If they string enough together offensively to score some points and disrupt the Nighthawks enough defensively, then it very well could be a close, toss-up game.
What’s next: The winner will face either No. 5 Cleveland County (12-1) or No. 3 Wilson Hunt (12-0) in the regionals
THOMASVILLE AT EAST LINCOLN
Records: No. 6 pod/8 region Thomasville (6-7); 1/1 East Lincoln (13-0)
How they got here: Thomasville beat Maiden 27-24 in the first round, beat Lincolnton 55-14 in the second round; East Lincoln beat Wheatmore 49-0 in the first round, Starmount 37-24 in the second round
What to look for: The Bulldogs, winners of six of seven after starting 0-6, likely knew its playoff road would run through East Lincoln, the undefeated Southern Piedmont champion, at some point. Odds were that it wasn’t going to lose to Wheatmore or Starmount. And, frankly, Thomasville’s odds aren’t any better.
But odds mean little once the ball’s kicked off tonight. It has faced adversity numerous times this season and somehow still managed to reach the regional semifinals. So, while the odds might be slim, the Bulldogs should still be expected to compete in all aspects — and who knows what might happen from there.
What’s next: The winner will face either No. 1 Madison (11-1) or No. 2 Shelby (8-5) in the regionals