Patriots primed for crucial busy slate

Providence Grove’s Zane Cheek scores a touchdown in the first quarter against Trinity in a 49-14 victory Monday night in Cilmax. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

 

Providence Grove treads through hectic week of games

CLIMAX – A schedule packed with critical games is coming fast for Providence Grove’s football team.

The importance of each of those continues to be magnified for the Patriots, who’ll play for the third time in eight days Friday night when Southwestern Randolph visits.

“I told our guys that as long as I’ve done it, I’ve never done anything like this,” coach Calvin Brown said Monday night. “I’ve never had to deal with everything going on with COVID before either.”

The Patriots (6-2, 2-1 Piedmont Athletic Conference) put themselves in prime position by defeating visiting Trinity 49-14 in Monday night’s make-up game.

This came just three nights after falling at neighboring Eastern Randolph by 38-16 in a game ripe with PAC championship implications.

Through it all, Brown said the Patriots came through relatively unscathed from an injury standpoint.

“We put a lot of energy into that Eastern Randolph game,” Brown said. “We didn’t know how we would respond (for the Trinity game). We’re good for the most part (with injuries) and we’ll be ready to go.”

Because first-place Eastern Randolph will be in Class 1-A for the state playoffs, it means that quite a bit is at stake in the Southwestern Randolph/Providence Grove game. The winner will be in position to be the conference’s No. 1 seed for the Class 2-A state playoffs.

“It’s going to have a major impact on playoff seeding,” Brown said. “It could end up meaning at least two home playoff games.”

The Patriots helped their cause by breaking out to a 29-7 halftime lead against Trinity. Zane Cheek scored four touchdowns in the game. He rushed for 102 yards on nine carries with three touchdowns and also caught a 14-yard scoring pass.

For Trinity, Dylan Hodges returned a kickoff for a touchdown and Dominic Payne scored the other touchdown.

Southwestern Randolph (7-1, 2-1) and Providence Grove have been strong since the beginning of the season. Each team matched or exceeded the best start to a season in program history.

They haven’t met since 2019. When the 2020 season was moved to this past spring because of the pandemic, the teams didn’t collide because conference-only schedules were used. They became league mates when the new conference alignments began this summer.

Because of Providence Grove’s busy slate, the Southwestern Randolph game had been moved to Saturday, but it has shifted back to its original date a night earlier. That came after clarification from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association regarding the time off required between football competitions.

“We’re good with that,” Brown said. “We’ll be ready.”

The game marks the regular-season home finale for the Patriots. It will be both homecoming and Senior Night. Homecoming had been scheduled for earlier in the season for the week of the originally scheduled Trinity game.

 

By Bob Sutton

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