Friday Preview: Thomasville focuses on the end game
This is the time of year when Thomasville Bulldog legends are made.
November is the month teams clinch conference championships and solidify playoff seeding. Bulldogs assistant coach Dickie Cline is insistent those things do not come easily, even for Thomasville. And while others wonder who could be next to go down in Cushwa lore, there is only one thing on the coach's mind heading into Friday night's tussle with North Rowan that is essentially for the Central Carolina Conference championship.
"We have to get the game into the fourth quarter," Cline said. "We've been in this situation several times. Our kids have been battle tested in that aspect of the game. It's definitely going to be a challenge. We have to play our best game of the season."
Thomasville (4-5, 3-0 CCC 2-A) will host an unbeaten squad in North Rowan that has not been tested this season. Cline acknowledges the difficulty of what his team is tasked with doing, but believes the Bulldogs must try to play conservatively in an effort to keep the Cavaliers off the field.
"It'd be nice if we could control the ball, but they're such a big-play team," Cline said. "They don't just have one or two. They have a stable of weapons. We need to keep that under control and win the field position battle. I don't think you can stop those guys, but hopefully we can slow them down."
Among the weapons with whom the vaunted Bulldog defense must contend are quarterback Alexis Archie and running back Jareke Chambers. Chambers led the Cavaliers with 170 yards on nine carries, scoring two touchdowns last week against East Davidson. Archie also rushed eight times for 55 yards and added three touchdowns of his own.
Perhaps even more problematic, Thomasville will have to find a way to reverse a trend from Friday's narrow escape at Salisbury when the Bulldogs turned the ball over five times. They trailed 14-0 at intermission to a one-loss team and arch rival.
"We didn't play real hard in the first half for whatever reason," Cline said. "We stepped up in the second half and were very fortunate to win. We've had a tough time with Salisbury the last few years, but our focus now is the big challenge we have this week."
That challenge begins with determining who will carry the load in the run game, where the home team must make headway. Could Demoris Payne, who has established himself as the lead back, be the latest to etch his name among senior leaders who left a legacy? Or will Thomasville lack a storybook ending to its season?
No matter how it turns out, Bulldog fans will be treated to must-see football for the latest chapter Friday night at Cushwa.
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or firstname.lastname@example.org.