The Randleman Tigers, who recorded just their second-ever undefeated regular season, have been rewarded for that accomplishment with a No. 1
seeding for the upcoming state 2-A playoffs.
The Tigers are one of four teams from Randolph County — all Piedmont Athletic Conference teams — to qualify for the state tournament. The seedings
and pairings were announced Saturday by the NCHSAA. All four teams — Randleman, Wheatmore, Eastern Randolph and Providence Grove — were put into the same 2-A West classification, this coming after ER was originally placed in the East Region.
Randleman earned the No. 1 seed in the 2-A West, Wheatmore the No. 4 seed, Eastern Randolph the No. 9 seed and Providence Grove the No. 14 seed. Randleman (11-0) will host No. 16 Lexington (5-6), Wheatmore (10-1) will host No. 13 Patton (6-5), Eastern Randolph (9-2) travels to No. 8 Brevard (8-3) and Providence Grove (6-5) heads to No. 3 Mountain Heritage (9-1).
All games are scheduled for Friday night.
RHS completed its first undefeated season since the 1983 season and now sets its sights on a deep run in the playoffs.
“The biggest thing about getting a No. 1 is you get home field advantage throughout,” RHS coach Shane Handy said. “You don’t have to travel. Any time you can play at home it’s good. We have great crowds and it’s a great environment. It makes things easier.”
Handy said he was a little surprised his team was put in the West Region.
“It’s been going all week where we were going to be put in the West, but I was shocked at that in the beginning,” Handy said. “We’ve always been in the East.”
That means a date with the Yellow Jackets on Friday night.
“We haven’t played Lexington in several
years,” Handy said. “We like to play new people.”
Wheatmore coach Philip Yarbrough said he read projections that put his Warriors against Providence Grove in the first round. He was relieved when the pairings were finalized and he didn’t have to face the Patriots for a second straight week. Instead, his team will play Patton, a team from Morganton, who placed third in the Northwestern Foothills Conference.
“We haven’t seen them on film, but I looked on MaxPreps and they have some big guys up front,” Yarbrough said. “We’re going to have to break down the film and study and figure it out. I have no idea right now what they run offensively or defensively. If they run some complex schemes, we’re going to have to get things done as quickly as possible and practice.”
Friday night will be the first home playoff football game in WHS history.
“We are absolutely excited,” Yarbrough said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to host two rounds.”
ER got bounced around a bit, first being placed as the No. 10 seed in the East before being switched to the No. 9 seed in the West.
“We knew we were going to be bounced around,” said ER coach Burton Cates. “I told them when the first ones came out, just wait because there would be another one. There are so many variables and we’re right on the bubble as far as East and West. It could go either way. It is what it is and we will get ready to play Brevard.”
Cates said he didn’t have a preference where the Wildcats were sent.
“In the playoffs, we have gone East and done well and gone West and done well,” Cates said. “Once it’s finalized, our focus is now on Brevard.”
Should RHS and ER win their first-round games, the two county rivals would meet at RHS in the second round.
“We are focusing on Brevard and that’s the only game that matters,” Cates said. “It would be great to play anybody in the second round because that means you still have a chance.”
The Patriots could have forced a three-way tie in the PAC standings with a win over WHS on Friday night, but the Warriors took advantage of three turnovers for a 21-0 win.
Now PG heads to Mountain Heritage, from Burnsville, which won the 1-A/2-A
Western Highlands Conference.
“We knew if we didn’t win (Friday) night, we’d be playing one of the top teams,” PG coach Calvin Brown said. “They are a great football team. It will be a tough game.”