Randleman linebacker looks to shine in N.C. East-West All-Star Game

Randleman linebacker Thomas Dobias tackles Providence Grove quarterback James Ellis. (Randolph Record)


RANDLEMAN – Randleman senior Thomas Dobias is excited for the chance to put a finishing touch on his high school football career.

He hopes that helps lead to other opportunities on the gridiron.

Dobias, a linebacker, will play in the North Carolina East-West All-Star Game on Sunday afternoon in Greensboro.

“I definitely want to play college football,” Dobias said. “I think this is going to help me.”

New for the 2023-24 school year, the North Carolina Coaches Association has moved the game from the mid-July spot to December so it better aligns with the football season. The N.C. East-West All-Star basketball and soccer games will continue to be held in July for recent graduates.

Dobias played a key role as Randleman re-emerged as an area power this season, posing a 10-2 record.

“We had been OK,” he said. “I think (the strong season) had a lot to do with the senior class. Our senior class really led it.”

The Tigers also dealt with the absence of coach Shane Timmons, who relocated during the season to Tennessee because of a medication situation involving his daughter, Ophie. The team didn’t want to let him down.

“That gave us a lot of motivation to do good things,” Dobias said.

Dobias had been a starter on defense since his freshman season, which was abbreviated because of the pandemic. Then injuries limited him the next two seasons, with a broken arm in the latter part of the 2021 season and the need for arthroscopic knee surgery shortly before the beginning of the 2022 season. He returned last year at start of Piedmont Athletic Conference play.

This year, he made the most of his final prep season.

“Finally, a full year without injury,” he said.

Dobias recorded a PAC-leading 134 tackles, including 18 for losses. He said he’s better as a run-stopper, but that didn’t prevent him from collecting a team-leading six interceptions this year after having no pick-offs during his first three seasons.

“Experience has a lot to do with it,” he said.

Dobias, who even with the injuries garnered all-conference or all-county honors in all four football seasons, has been a running back for Randleman, but that role was reduced as the Tigers had better depth at that position this year.

“I feel like I react fast. I know football. I’m smart about football,” he said. “I definitely prefer defense. I like to hit people, but I don’t mind playing offense at all. That’s fun, too, running the ball and scoring touchdowns.”

He said he felt obligated to show leadership traits and set good examples, especially “with all my work in the weight room,” he said. “Ever since I was little. I’ve always loved football. Everybody has looked up to me. I try to take that to heart. I try to keep everybody positive.”

Dobias, now at about 210 pounds, gained a reputation early in high school as a top-notch player in Randolph County. He said he learned to be unfazed, even as a freshman.

“My dad (Ryan Dobias) has helped coach,” he said. “I’ve grown up around high school kids. I’ve worked out with them. It was a little intimidating at first, but I got used to it.

“They know about me. I try not to put that in my head. I try to play good every game. Make them know my name that game.”

When players from around North Carolina gather Sunday for the 2 p.m. game at Jamieson Stadium on the Greensboro Grimsley campus, it will be a special day for Dobias. That’s also his 18th birthday.

“It should be a pretty cool experience,” he said. “You’re going against really good players. It’s going to give me an idea of what it’s going to be like at the next level.”

Dobias said he plans for another track and field season prior to college. He hopes to major in wildlife biology.

Norwood in Shrine Bowl

Eastern Randolph senior lineman Jani Norwood will be in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas on Saturday afternoon.

That game pitting top seniors from North Carolina vs. seniors from South Carolina will be held in Spartanburg, S.C.

Norwood is a University of North Carolina commit. He had excelled as an offensive lineman, but he was named this year’s Defensive Player of the Year in the PAC.

By Bob Sutton