Among the thrills for Eastern Randolph during the past school year came following a road victory against South Stokes in the boys’ basketball state playoffs as coach Johnny Thomas and the team celebrate. (PJ Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)
RAMSEUR – Eastern Randolph had a different kind of school year in 2022-23.
For athletics director Foster Cates, the perception of athletics at the school might be changing.
That’s because the Wildcats advanced to the Class 1-A state championship game in boys’ basketball. That had never happened before.
“It has been such a football and baseball dominant school forever,” Cates said. “I wanted to make it a one-stop shot. You can come to school and do all three.”
The Wildcats won the Piedmont Athletic Conference title in football last year. They followed that with the PAC crown in boys’ basketball, coinciding with a strong regular season and postseason from the girls’ basketball team.
The fan support followed, with Eastern Randolph drawing big crowds at home and on the road for basketball games.
“It gave the community something to rally around after football season,” Cates. “That’s a long wait before the next (football) season. It was great for the community.”
Cates said the boys’ basketball team’s high-scoring games heightened the interest.
“It’s entertainment,” he said.
The girls’ basketball team had a late-season eight-game winning streak and later won two games in the state playoffs.
In football, after a first-round bye in the state playoffs, the Wildcats won two games before they were eliminated. Combined with the basketball success, there were certain positives.
“Probably getting as far as we did in both sports,” then-senior running back / linebacker Devonte Brooks said of the school year’s highlights.
There seemed to be nonstop attention on Eastern Randolph.
“It was pretty exciting,” Brooks said. “I just wanted to make it a basketball and football school, not just a one-sport school. Leave it better than I found it, that’s all I’m trying to do.”
The buzz around Eastern Randolph athletics continued in the spring.
The baseball team advanced to the Class 1-A West Region finals, extending its season to late May. The softball team won three games in the state playoffs.