State Playoff Preview: Bulldogs wolf hunting for third straight year
Thomasville will face a familiar foe to open the NCHSAA 2-A playoffs Friday at Cushwa Stadium.
The Bulldogs tangle with Lincolnton in a win-or-go home scenario. These two teams have met in each of the last two postseasons, with Thomasville throttling the Wolves 55-14 last year in the second round. In 2011, it was Lincolnton that shut the Bulldogs out of the state semifinal that sent the Wolves to Raleigh for the 2-A championship game.
"It seems like both of us are getting accustomed to playing each other every year," assistant coach Dickie Cline said with a smile. "We have a chance to keep playing."
Now the rubber match comes on the heels of an impressive close to the season for Thomasville after the squad struggled early. If recent history offers any hints as to what is on the horizon, it might be that fans at Cushwa on Friday could be in for a celebration, considering the home team has won both of the previous matchups.
Another similarity between this year's game and the one played 12 months ago is the Bulldogs' record entering play this week. A season ago, the group dropped one conference game after losing every one of its non-conference contests. Aside from a victory over Mount Airy, this year's unit appears much like a carbon copy.
"Record-wise, we are in the same situation as last year," Cline said. "We were really playing good toward the end of the season. Teams that are playing well and don't turn the ball over have a chance. We'd like to have some wrinkles, but we're pretty in what we're doing."
The disconcerting reality for Thomasville is that this may not be a carbon copy of last year's Lincolnton squad. A more versatile offense led by quarterback Jordan Easter, as well as running backs Chavis Russell and Justice Charles, is averaging 22.6 points per game this season. Despite scoring almost 10 more points per contest than the Bulldogs, that mark will be tested against a stingy defense.
"They are still an option football team, more of a flexbone set this year," Cline said. "They run out of an I-formation some, but they're still an option football team. That means you've got to be disciplined on defense. It's not like other offenses. It's assignment football. You've got to stop three phases, be disciplined and match up. They have some outstanding skills players and a hard-working group, so we know it's going to be a challenge for us."
Pre-sale tickets are now available for $7 at the school office, and will be until 3 p.m. Friday.
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or firstname.lastname@example.org.