ASHEBORO — It is said that the most improvement a high school football team makes during the course of a season is between Games 1 and 2.
Eastern Randolph High School varsity football coach Burton Cates saw improvement in numerous areas last week as the Wildcats traveled to Asheboro to meet their rival Asheboro High School in the second week of the regular season. Coming off a 20-point season-opening loss to Eastern Alamance, Cates’ Cats did see that improvement, most notably a 27-16 victory to even their record at 1-1.
But Cates said he sure hopes there’s continued improvement in the coming weeks as ER turned the ball over four times — twice inside the AHS 5 — and had numerous penalties to help keep Asheboro in the contest.
This game was nothing like the 69-7 victory ER recorded over AHS a year ago.
“I can’t say what I want to say, but it was something to build on,” the veteran coach Cates said after ER quarterback Carter Revell scrambled 45 yards for a touchdown with 3:55 to play to secure the victory. “We had some adversity that game. We battled. We did better than last week.”
But in order to get where the Wildcats need to be if they intend to defend their Piedmont Athletic Conference championship won last season, there are plenty of more steps that have to be taken. The quartet of turnovers and numerous pre-snap penalties continually sent them back.
“We did score a few more touchdowns, some that didn’t count,” Cates said.” I think we’re a good football team. We have to work and we have to get better. Turnovers and penalties are going to determine the outcomes of games. And the kicking game. I was really pleased with our kicking game.”
The Blue Comets took the opening drive and drove to the ER 3, where Alex Sanchez kicked a short field goal for the early lead.
ER drove the length of the field on its first possession, but fumbled at the AHS 5 and the Blue Comets recovered.
ER held and took a 7-3 lead on a short field, driving 51 yards in four plays with Revell hooking up with Desean Shamburger for a 38-yard scoring strike down the left side.
Eastern's interior lineman Jani Norwood, who has committed to play at North Carolina, bull rushed AHS quarterback Logan Laughlin and ended up picking off a pass in the middle, but ER fumbled the ball right back. As did Asheboro and as did the Wildcats again.
“It’s definitely frustrating knowing if we didn’t win this game it was our fault,” said Revell, who threw for 185 yards and rushed for 70 more. “But we kept making some plays.”
Asheboro’s Amare Godwin made a nice TD reception with 3:06 left in the second quarter as he stopped and reached over a defender for a 9-7 AHS lead.
ER responded with a 61-yard scoring drive, scoring with just 21 seconds left in the first half on a 24-yard TD strike from Revell to Shamburger.
ER led 14-9 at halftime and extended that on the first series of the second half as Adonya Herbert capped a 67-yard scoring drive with a 3-yard run up the middle. That made it 21-9 and although Cates said his team never felt threatened after that, he was weary of the Blue Comets.
Godwin caught a second score from Laughlin at the 4:41 mark of the final quarter, but Revell broke free from the AHS defense shortly after and scored on his 45-yard run to make it 27-16.
“We have to keep improving, the kids know that,” Cates said.
For Asheboro, it was a game the Blue Comets refused to allow ER to run away with, much like has happened in previous seasons.
“I’m super proud of our kids,” AHS coach Calvin Brown said. “The fight we showed, the competitiveness we showed. We had some guys making plays. I am super proud of where we are right now.
“We have to get better. We are making mistakes. Offensively, we made some plays that we didn't make last week. From where they were 365 days ago, we’re getting better. I don’t think anyone expected us to be in this game this late except for those in our locker room.”
Laughlin threw for 319 yards for the Blue Comets with Elijah Woodle hauling in six for 119 yards.
ER prepares for Southern Lee Friday night while Asheboro has a bye.