Close connections define matchup for Blue Comets, Patriots

New Providence Grove football coach David Hayes, left, and former coach Calvin Brown talk at a Providence Grove basketball game last winter. (Randolph Record file photo)

Asheboro staff stocked with ex-Providence Grove coaches

CLIMAX – Providence Grove’s football team has thrived in the opening weeks of the season.

Next comes a version of show-and-tell in a reunion of sorts when Asheboro visits Friday night.

There’s far from an ordinary vibe for the non-conference matchup.

“It’s weird, for sure,” Providence Grove senior running back/linebacker Logan Fox said. “It’s definitely going to be emotional on both sides. It will be more than a game for me. I don’t have anything against them.”

Indeed, admiration seems to be flowing in both directions. First-year Asheboro coach Calvin Brown and most of his staff were at Providence Grove for the past few years when the Patriots flourished.

An offseason move has Brown in charge of rebuilding at Asheboro.

“It will be different, obviously, on that visiting sideline after 11 years,” said Brown, who was an assistant coach for four seasons and head coach for the past seven at Providence Grove. “Every player on their team I’ve had an impact on their lives.”

Brown was also athletics director at Providence Grove.

“As the AD at Providence Grove, I’m the one who scheduled this,” he said.

The Blue Comets didn’t play last week, so Brown was there to scout the Patriots in their 26-20 home victory against visiting Bishop McGuinness on Friday night.

It was good “to watch so many guys I’ve coached and care about. I don’t get to see them every day, so that (was) good.”

Providence Grove is 3-0 under first-year coach David Hayes.

“Can’t ask for anything better than to win them all so far,” Hayes said. “We’re checking off boxes. The last few years PG has been wildly successful and very veteran-heavy. These guys we have now didn’t have to be relied on.”

Hayes said the Patriots’ fortunes would “depend on how quick our guys can learn to play varsity football.”

Even with what Hayes described as some typical self-inflicted snags, things have worked out.

“It’s really good when you can still pull wins out,” he said. “We feel good about a lot.”

While Carson Jones kicked two field goals last week, Hayes said regular kicker Tucker Batten should be available to return from an injury this week.

Asheboro is 1-1, defeating Albemarle and falling to Eastern Randolph. This will be the Blue Comets’ first road game.

“Our guys are starting to realize we have the potential to be good,” Brown said. “They realize, ‘We can do this. We can win games.’ We improved a lot from Week 1 to Week 2. You could see a big difference. We were a few plays away (against Eastern Randolph).”

The Blue Comets have receivers making plays at the back end of Logan Laughlin’s passes.

“Our passing game is rolling right now and it’s going to improve,” Brown said.

Providence Grove has players emerging into more prominent roles.

Fox and senior quarterback James Ellis, in his first season as a starter, have been leaders, Hayes said.

“They’ve really set the tone,” Hayes said. “They’re buying into what we’re preaching and that really makes a difference.”

Fox said he was close with several coaches who are now at Asheboro. He said Hayes has been an ideal fit for the Patriots and he likes how the new connections have developed.

Three current Providence Grove staff members are holdovers from last year.

There’s no lack of familiarity between these teams.

“It should be a tough one for us,” Brown said. “Our coaching staff knows them well. I’ve already talked to (our staff members) about it and that’s one reason we need to take the emotion out of it.”

That might be difficult to entirely wipe away.

“I think at the end of the day we all want to win this game so bad,” Fox said.


Prep football — Week 4

Friday night’s games

Asheboro at Providence Grove

McMichael at Southwestern Randolph

West Davidson at Trinity

Randleman at Union Pines

Wheatmore at Bishop McGuinness

By Bob Sutton