Wildcats showcase variety of weapons

Eastern Randolph’s Michael Stratton Barwick throws a 30 yard touchdown pass against Asheboro at Asheboro high school on August 27, 2021. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

Quarterback’s precision adds to firepower for Eastern Randolph’s offense

ASHEBORO – Eastern Randolph has so many ways to be productive on the football field.

With highly recruited playmakers dotting recent rosters for the Wildcats, now it’s clear that it’d be wise not to overlook Stratton Barwick.

Eastern Randolph’s Elias Alston makes a 29-yard touchdown reception from Stratton Barwick against Asheboro in the second quarter at Asheboro. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

The junior quarterback is slinging the ball in the right directions these days.

“It’s a joy to see the ball going through the air and the crowd cheers,” Barwick said.

That happened numerous times last week when visiting Eastern Randolph thumped Asheboro 49-7 on Friday night.

“We just came out and played football,” Barwick said.

Veteran coach Burton Cates of Eastern Randolph said Barwick has been impressive with efficiency.

“Last year as a sophomore he had some tough games,” Cates said. “But we saw what he could do in that comeback against Clinton (in a road upset in the state playoffs). We know we have a good one. He works hard.”

Barwick was 7-for-7 for 259 yards in the Asheboro game. That was a nice complement to go with standout running back Nahiem Lilly, who rushed for 95 yards on 15 carries.

With receivers making moves after receptions, there’s no shortage of options on the offense. It’s worth paying attention to.

“They should be,” Barwick said. “It’s something to watch.”

The Blue Comets saw too much of it in the non-conference matchup. Barwick was leading the charge.

“They did a fantastic job protecting him,” Asheboro coach Blake Brewer said. “When he hit them in stride, they (showed) really good team speed.”

Eastern Randolph scored on a pair of 1-yard runs by Davonte Brooks in the first quarter, but those possessions were drastically different. The first one came on a short field after Delonte Glover blocked an Asheboro punt. The next touchdown capped a 95-yard drive after the Blue Comets were halted on a scoring chance.

Then Barwick took command on scoring plays. He connected with D.J. Thomas for a 65-yard play in the opening minute of the second quarter.

In the last 4 ½ minutes of the first half, the Wildcats tacked on three touchdowns to build a 41-7 bulge.

Barwick hit Elias Alston for a 29-yard touchdown play and hooked up with Alston again for a 30-yard touchdown – with Lilly’s 2-yard run coming in between those plays.

The game’s last points came in the third quarter, with Barwick’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Glover followed by Lilly’s two-point conversion run.

“They got it all going,” Brewer said.

Eastern Randolph coach Burton Cates walks the field against at Asheboro on Aug. 27. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

Cates has lost only twice to Asheboro across more than a quarter-century worth of games covering two stints as Eastern Randolph’s coach.

It’s still a big deal when the Wildcats conquer Asheboro. After the latest result, the postgame congratulations came pouring in. Even Kaemen Marley, a highly recruited athlete who’s on the Tennessee roster, came back on a brief break and was on the field for a postgame hug for Cates.

The potential for the Wildcats could be soaring this season.

“We just got to stay healthy,” Cates said.

The Blue Comets (1-1), whose lone touchdown came on Qamelo Butler’s 1-yard run in the second quarter, wasted several scoring chances in the first half. By then, the tone had been set.

“You score early when we were down there and maybe it’s a different game,” Brewer said.

The Wildcats didn’t hesitate to take advantage.

“We didn’t get stops,” Brewer said, referring to no Eastern Randolph punts until late in the game.

Asheboro’s Tyler Smith punt is blocked by Eastern Randolph’s Delonte Glover. PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL

Asheboro has a week off on the schedule, so that’s time for the Blue Comets to adjust. They’ll have to look at special teams as well after having two punts blocked by Eastern Randolph.


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