By Brad Crawford
August 26, 2013
That was a strange, weather-delayed opening week.
And the handful of losses — most lopsided — certainly didn’t help.
South Robeson’s 34-12 setback at West Bladen on Monday capped a disappointing weekend for Robeson County football as Fairmont’s late two-point conversion saved the area from go winless during a contest in which both defenses took the night off.
In that 58-56 battle against East Bladen, the Golden Tornadoes gave up 623 yards of total offense. Certainly not a film keeper for Randy Ragland’s defensive staff.
There’s a few days to regroup, but it does beg the question: Where do we go from here? That’s why our six head coaches are paid the big bucks, to fix what worked and what didn’t in preparation for the next showdown on Friday night.
The good news is at least one of our programs will have a mark in the win column Friday around 11 p.m. — Red Springs hosts Purnell Swett in a matchup of county rivals.
6. South Robeson (0-1): The Mustangs were on the opposite end of deja vu on Monday after the Knights snapped a 19-game losing skid in the opener. South Robeson was the program that ended a similar streak in the first game of 2012 at West Bladen before finishing with three wins. The Mustangs have very little time to prepare for Friday’s tilt against Village Christian, but coach Stephen Roberson says his team will be ready — not necessarily at full strength — for what they’ll face.
5. Lumberton (0-1): Lumberton’s first play from scrimmage was a fumble that pushed the Pirates back 11 yards against Douglas Byrd. The second? Will Everette’s beautifully-thrown sideline strike to Bryan Carpenter that went for six. That was it for the Air Raid in the opener as the Pirates offense never got on track in Fayetteville. Lumberton’s second touchdown late in the fourth came against the Eagles’ second-team defense when Alonzo Hurtado’s three touchdowns on the ground had already decided the outcome. This week’s not any easier when Lumberton heads to Ramsey Street for a battle with Pine Forest.
4. Swett (0-1): We knew the Rams’ defense would be one of the area’s strongest this season with a ton of seniors, but it may take awhile for the offense to get on track. Four turnovers and a missed two-point conversion try in the final frame was the difference in last week’s game against the Trojans. Swett kept Pine Forest’s offense at bay and did its best limiting the athleticism of the Trojans’ front seven with an all-new starting offensive line. This week’s trip to Red Springs shouldn’t be as physically-demanding, but the Rams will need to be on the look out for speed.
3. St. Pauls (0-1): It was close for a half. St. Pauls did a much better job defending Gray’s Creek’s Wing-T attack in this year’s opener compared to last, but the Bears made more plays after intermission during their 27-point win. With a non-existent ground game, the Bulldogs never got on track sustaining drives. St. Pauls welcomes South Brunswick in a few days, a 45-0 loser to Wallace-Rose Hill last week.
2. Red Springs (0-1): The Red Devils had their feelings hurt at home after last week’s opener was moved to Red Springs due to White Oak’s saturated field. The Vikings, who went 1-10 last season, answered the call with more than 500 yards rushing during a 45-33 win that snapped Red Springs’ six-game home winning streak. “We came out flat and I hope our players took it as a wake up call,” coach George Coltharp said. “We had some dropped passes and didn’t do a great job of tackling. We’ll make some personnel changes this week.”
1. Fairmont (1-0): Jarrod Neal did his best Blake Greene impression against East Bladen with an eye-popping 434-yard passing effort in the Golden Tornadoes’ season-opening win. Neal hit six different receivers, made three of his seven touchdown throws on the run and did an excellent job commanding Ragland’s Air Raid against a program that had beaten Fairmont 11 consecutive times. Fairmont’s first-year coach was ecstatic after the victory in his debut, but did highlight a problem area that will be a primary focus this week. Where was the defense? The Golden Tornadoes’ unit gave up 518 yards rushing, but remains a work in progress with so many new starters on that side of the football.
Reach staff writer Brad Crawford at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrPalmettoSDS.