Football Playoffs: Looking for history

Providence Grove coach Calvin Brown throws up 1 finger for the extra point after a touchdown against visiting Jordon-Mathews in a non-league game in Climax on September 3, 2021. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

Providence Grove, Southwestern Randolph seek playoff breakthroughs

ASHEBORO — Three football teams from Randolph County will play in home games to begin the state playoffs, though one of them will have to wait an extra week before playing.

Undefeated Eastern Randolph (9-0) is the No. 1 seed for the Class 1-A West Region, receiving a bye to the second week of the playoffs. That’s when the Wildcats will be slated for a home game Nov. 12 against the Draughn / Elkin winner.

The others will be getting started Friday night. Here’s a look at those matchups.

 Forest Hills at Providence Grove

Providence Grove assistant coach Grant Handy lifts Running back Caleb Rogers in the air after their 40-34 victory against Southwestern Randolph on Oct. 22. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

Eighth-seeded Providence Grove (8-2) takes on No. 25 seed Forest Hills (6-4) in a Class 2-A West Region game.

Providence Grove is trying to break through in the postseason. It is 0-9 all-time in football playoff games.

The Patriots are undefeated against Class 2-A competition this season. Their losses came to teams (Eastern Randolph and Ledford) with a combined 16-3 record.

Forest Hills won three consecutive games before falling 38-9 at Monroe in the regular-season finale. In each of the Yellow Jackets’ last three losses they’ve surrendered at least 38 points.

Providence Grove has scored 40 or more points in seven of its eight victories. Topping that list was last week’s 66-12 victory at Wheatmore, with seven players scoring at least one touchdown.

The Patriots have reached the eight-win mark in each of the past two full seasons (not counting the abbreviated 2020 season that was shifted to this past spring).

Friday night’s winner will advance to meet the winner of the Community School of Davidson / East Gaston game. Providence Grove will be home again if it wins in the first round.

Polk County at Southwestern Randolph

Southwestern Randolph’s defensive front matches up with South Stanly in a game at Ivey B.Luck Stadium at Southwestern Randolph on August 27, 2021. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

Also in Class 2-A, 16th-seeded Southwestern Randolph (8-2) is amid a historic season. This just adds to it.

The Cougars have set a school record for wins. This will be the program’s first home state-playoff game.

The next thing to mark off the list: Win a game in the state playoffs for the first time.

“We’ve had a great year,” coach Seth Baxter said. “Anytime you’re the only one to do something, that’s special. This is new to this community.”

Southwestern Randolph’s Adam Cole runs against Asheboro in a non-conference game at Lee J. Stone Stadium in Asheboro on September 24, 2021. SWR won 17-7 winning at Asheboro for the first time in school history. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

The Cougars have racked up the most points in a season in school history. Six times they’ve eclipsed the 40-point mark.

Baxter said the players have embraced the season.

“They work as hard on the practice field as they do on the game field,” he said. “They’re just looking forward to playing this week.”

This will be the first meeting between the Cougars and No. 17 seed Polk County.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us this week,” Baxter said.

The winner will face either top-seeded Shelby or 32ndseeded Black Mountain Owen in the second round.

Randleman at Reidsville

Randleman quarterback Christian Long makes a pass against Eastern Randolph’s John Maness during the regular-season finale at Randleman on October 29, 2021. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

Randleman (4-6) made the field as the No. 29 seed in the West Region in Class 2-A.

The Tigers will go to fourth-seeded Reidsville (9-0), which has made 27 appearances in state championship games and has won state titles the past three seasons.

The chance to play another game is a reward for the Tigers. They picked up some momentum in the middle of the season after beginning with an 0-3 start.

“We’re a better football team now than after that Asheboro game (to open the season),” Randleman coach Shane Timmons said.

The Tigers have lost three of their last four games.

Friday’s winner will face either Chase or Pine Lake Prep.


By Bob Sutton

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