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Rivals set to clash

HIGH POINT  In the grand scheme of things, Friday night’s matchup between T. Wing­ate Andrews and High Point Central means nothing.
     The Red Raiders could lose to the Bison and reel off an 11-game winning streak that culminates in a 3A state cham­pionship. Ditto for Central, except the Bison would need to win 10 in a row to capture the 4A crown.
     Realistically speaking, though, Andrews and Central find themselves at a fork in the road this week. Since the teams moved this series to mid-Sep­tember in 1997, at no point have they entered the matchup with a worse combined record.
     Central comes in at 1-3 fol­lowing last week’s 43-16 loss to Wake Forest-Rolesville. An­drews, thanks to a pair of bye weeks, is just 1-1 but stumbled mightily in last Friday’s 27­6 effort at Grimsley.
     “It’s the fact that both teams obviously are looking to win a football game, and this week we happen to be playing our rival,” said new Bison head coach Wayne Jones of the importance of this game. “That’s what makes a win probably a little more important for the kids, but as coaches we just want to get back on the winning track.”
     After a loss, explained new Andrews head coach Rodney McKoy, “The kids are all uptight, ready to go. You want your non­conference season to be consistent.  You don’t want to win a week and lose a week.”
     Certainly the loser of Friday’s rivalry game isn’t done for the sea­son. But winning in the following weeks won’t get any easier. The Bison travel to undefeated 4A foe North Davidson for their final game of the month, then get a bye week to prep for the Metro 4A Confer­ence season. First up on that slate is mighty Grimsley.
     Andrews, meanwhile, travels to Asheboro next Friday and then welcomes 2A state title contender Reidsville. The Raid­ers’ Piedmont Triad 3A Confer­ence schedule opens with a trip to powerful Glenn.  The players know full well that the pressure to perform is on.
     “Since we lost to Grimsley last week, we’ve got to redeem ourselves,” strong safety Jamal Haizlip said.  “Especially me. I’m a senior and it’s my last time playing Central.”
     Bison defensive end Teddy Warren agreed with that assess­ment,
especially since Andrews snapped a five-game skid in the series with last year’s 34-28 decision.  “We’ve got to get the respect back from everybody,” the senior said. “We need to win.  We’ve got a good team and we’ve got to pull it together.”
     Now that both teams find themselves at this crossroads, pulling it together for this rebound game is paramount.
     Besides, if either the Raiders or Bison crash on the road ahead this fall, they’ll need the satis­faction of winning this contest to ease the pain of a rebuilding year.
     “It doesn’t matter how far you go – you could win the state championship,” Warren said.  “If you didn’t beat Andrews, it ain’t nothing.”

Courtesy of: Steve Hanf, High Point Enterprise


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