By MIKE DUPREZ
The 2022 high school football season is about to begin and here are five games to put on your calendar. Depending on how the season plays out, there could be others.
Eastern Alamance at Eastern Randolph, Aug. 19
On the surface, this one wouldn't seemingly stand out since the Wildcats romped to a 34-6 win last year. But Eastern Alamance didn't lose again until the 3-A Eastern Regional championship game. And that was an overtime loss to Jacksonville.
Eastern Randolph had a stellar 2021 season, winning the PAC-7 championship. It ended on a sour note with a loss to Murphy in the second round of the 1-A state playoffs.
Both teams have to replace key players. Yet they both have plenty of returning talent. Chances are this will be a much closer game in 2022.
Randleman at Central Davidson, Aug. 26
The Tigers got overwhelmed, yielding 62 points to the Spartans and their unusual double-wing offense last season. But Central Davidson graduated the running backs who ran wild and coach Clayton Trivett left for Salisbury.
Word is that the Spartans will keep the double-wing. Yet it can't be as good as last year. And the Tigers are surely going to be better after a rare bad season where injuries took a toll.
Southwestern Randolph at Asheboro, Sept. 23
When the two rivals met last year, Southwestern Randolph won in a 17-7 slog. Asheboro got frustrated and incurred six unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. At the same time, the Blue Comets played well on defense, greatly slowing the Cougars’ offense.
Southwestern Randolph had to replace all-conference quarterback Keaton Reed. Asheboro had to replace Khyland Hadley-Lindsay. Perhaps their replacements will have been broken in by then.
Providence Grove at Trinity, Sept. 30
Providence Grove won in a rout last year. But the Patriots lost several key players, including quarterback Luke Thomas and tailback/cornerback Caleb Rogers.
Trinity quarterback Dominic Payne continued to develop and is becoming a star. Perhaps this will be a much better game in 2022.
Randleman at Eastern Randolph, Oct. 28
They played twice last year, with Randleman claiming an emotional win in the spring at Burton Cates Stadium.
It was a completely different story in the fall when Eastern Randolph rolled 46-0. It wasn't unexpected as Randleman had graduated a huge senior class and the Wildcats were at the top of their game.
Will they be playing for the PAC-7 title again? Since it’s the last game of the regular season, we’ll know leading up to it.