Raiders host Pam Pack in East final
Last week the T.W. Andrews football team cleared the hurdle that tripped them last year. Now it looks to continue reaching for its ultimate goal: a state championship.
The top-seeded Red Raiders, who have won 12 straight since losing in week 1, will face third-seeded Washington on Friday night in A.J. Simeon Stadium in the 2AA East Regional final with the opportunity to reach their first state final in 20 years.
“It felt like we came back to finish what we started,” senior running back Marquell Cartwright said after last week’s win. “We knew we’ve already been through this and knew what it felt like to lose. So, that’s what drives us to push even harder to win.”
Last week, Andrews survived its first close game since the season-opening loss to Central, struggling with turnovers in the first half. But a 92-yard drive in the final minutes, finished off by a short-yardage touchdown by Cartwright with less than two minutes left, clinched it.
The Red Raiders, who are 4-4 all-time in regional finals and last reached one in 2005, will likely face another stern test this week in Washington, which has never reached the East final since records began being kept in 1972 and last played for a state title in 1956.
The Pam Pack are the undefeated champions of the Eastern Plains Conference, which also includes Andrews’ first-round foe SouthWest Edgecombe. Washington has won 10 straight, the most recent a blowout of No. 2 Currituck last week. Trey Spruill and Stevie Green each ran for 160 yards while Markel Spencer finished with 118.
“It’s the East Regional final and a chance to go to the state championship — it is what it is,” Red Raiders coach Rodney McKoy said last week. “... I call it the cookie-cutter process — we do everything the same. It’s interesting that the 2AA state championship’s on a Friday. So, it would allow us to not have to deviate from our schedule. We’re creatures of habit, so I’ll try to keep things normal for the kids. Practice is practice; the field’s the same wherever you go.”
NO. 3 WASHINGTON AT NO. 1 T.W. ANDREWS
Records: Washington (12-2, 5-0 Eastern Plains); T.W. Andrews (12-1, 5-0 PAC-6)
How they got here: Washington beat No. 14 North Pitt 24-14 in first round, No. 6 Bunn 35-32 in the second and No. 2 Currituck 46-6 in the third.
Andrews beat No. 16 SouthWest Edgecombe 43-15 in the first round, No. 8 North Brunswick 39-0 in the second and No. 5 Jacksonville Northside 21-14 in the third.
What’s next: The winner will advance to next week’s state championship against either No. 2 Monroe or No. 16 Parkwood. That game will be Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Kenan Stadium on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill.