Blue Comets collect early prize

Asheboro pulls opening surprise at Randleman

RANDLEMAN — Asheboro’s football team won for the first time in more than 600 days to open the season.

Now the Blue Comets will have their sights set on more conquests.

Asheboro players and coaches give head coach Blake Brewer an ice bath after they beat Randleman 20-7 and giving him his first win as a head coach Aug. 20 at Randleman. PJ WARD-BROWN/RANDOLPH RECORD

After a winless record in seven games when the 2020 season was shifted to this past spring, Asheboro might have been largely dismissed as a factor entering the new campaign.

That was far from the case in Friday night’s season-opening 20-7 conquering of Randleman.

“We proved that we got the talent,” linebacker / running back Qamelo Butler said.

Asheboro plays its home opener Friday night against Eastern Randolph, another highly regarded team.

“We proved we could step it up and fix our mistakes,” Blue Comets defensive end Charles Perry said.

Randleman cheerleaders hold a sign up prior to the season-opening game against Asheboro. PJ WARD-BROWN/RANDOLPH RECORD

The first-week result was jarring in many respects, particularly given that Randleman hadn’t lost a regular-season game since 2017. The Tigers roughed up Asheboro 43-7 slightly more than four months ago in Asheboro.

“All they’ve heard about is how good Randleman is, how good ER is,” Asheboro coach Blake Brewer said. “They have a lot to prove.”

It turns out that the Blue Comets entered the season with a certain fatigue – though not of the physical variety.

“We’ve got a lot of kids who are tired,” Brewer said, referring to players he described as fed up with losing. “They’ve had enough.”

Now, they want more of this winning.

“Just hard work and dedication,” Perry said. “No lollygagging.”

Butler began the scoring on a 9-yard run right after a successful fake punt late in the first quarter.

Asheboro’s Hakemme Butler makes a jumping catch for the touchdown over Randleman’s Nick Connor in the second quarter during the first game of the season. PJ WARD-BROWN/RANDOLPH RECORD

“I got the first touchdown of the season,” Butler said, noting it was the first time he ever scored against Randleman.

A 65-minute lightning-related delay followed, but it didn’t distract the Blue Comets.

They scored in the second quarter on Markell Graham’s 60-yard pass reception on a toss from Khyland Hadley-Lindsay on the first play following the Blue Comets’ fourth-down defensive stand. Asheboro went up 20-0 with 1:53 left in the first half on Hakemme Butler’s 28-yard catch from Hadley-Lindsay.

By game’s end, Hadley-Lindsay threw for 98 yards and rushed for 80.

There was a relentless nature to Asheboro’s defense.

“We were able to finish no matter how tired we were,” Perry said. “We had to keep pushing.”

For Randleman coach Shane Timmons, he figured a new season would bring certain challenges.

“Did I see it coming to this level? No,” he said.

Part of the issue was that the Blue Comets didn’t budge along the line of scrimmage.

“They were strong where we were weak,” Timmons said.

Randleman quarterback Christian Long throws on the run against Asheboro in the first quarter. PJ WARD-BROWN/RANDOLPH RECORD

Still, the Tigers reached the Asheboro 14-yard line in the final minute of the first half. They were stopped on downs after moving inside the Asheboro 20 early in the third quarter before finally scoring on Errvod Cassady’s 11-yard run with 5:07 to play in the quarter.

Then Randleman threatened again later in the quarter, but Quamelo Butler intercepted Christian Long’s fourth-down desperation pass.

“Our defense, they were so confident,” Brewer said.

The Tigers have turned to Long at quarterback. The sophomore has switched positions after lining up as a receiver last season.

Timmons said he liked the determination that Long showed. He said the quarterback kept a positive outlook that a turnaround would come despite possessions that fizzled. His 12-for-33 passing for 102 yards with one interception is something to focus on improving.

“There’s going to be growing pains.” Timmons said.

There were just 93 rushing yards for the Tigers, who were 0-for-6 on fourth-down conversions.

“Failure is never fatal,” Timmons said. “But it better get your attention. … There’s going to be a different atmosphere in practice. We haven’t tasted this in a while.”

By Bob Sutton

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