Here’s a look from staff writer Brad Crawford at Friday’s Week 2 high school football games involving teams from Robeson County:
Fairmont (1-0) at Fayetteville Christian (0-1)
Coaches: Fairmont — Randy Ragland; Fayetteville Christian — Bruce McClelland
Recent history: Friday marks the first meeting.
What to watch: Could Fairmont become a 2A darkhorse this season? The Golden Tornadoes have a ton of problems that need to be answered on defense first but the other side of the football had one of the state’s top performances in last week’s opener. Randy Ragland’s Air Raid generated nearly 600 yards of total offense and featured seven plays that spanned 40 or more yards. Fairmont has big play potential every snap with a veteran-led unit that tests opposing defenses at a breakneck pace.
Keep an eye on: Da’Shawn Fields, Fairmont’s lanky senior receiver who scored twice in last week’s victory over East Bladen. Along with Shemar Barfield, Fields is a deep threat for quarterback Jarrod Neal and could have a monster outing against a secondary that’s seldom tested against the pass.
Swett (0-1) at Red Springs (0-1)
Coaches: Swett — Mark Heil; Red Springs — George Coltharp
Recent history: In the last two lopsided Swett wins, the Rams have outscored Red Springs, 102-24.
What to watch: Swett coach Mark Heil is 13-2 against teams from Robeson County since returning to Pembroke in 2007 with both losses coming to Lumberton. Why have the Rams been so dominant against the area’s 1A and 2A programs? Swett’s calling card is its defense, a feisty unit that likes to blitz and come at opponents from all angles. Red Springs allowed a little over 500 yards rushing against White Oak, so its matchup with a bigger, faster Swett team could prove futile.
Keep an eye on: Red Springs’ inexperienced offensive line. Swett’s defense attacks often and could make quarterback Blake Greene’s night an annoying one should the Rams get into the Red Devils’ backfield with ease. Red Springs’ attack is based on rhythm and timing. Swett will try and throw it off course early.
Lumberton (0-1) at Pine Forest (1-0)
Coaches: Lumberton — Joe Salas; Pine Forest — Bill Sochovka
Recent history: The Pirates beat the Trojans in their last matchup, 49-14, on Aug. 20, 2010, but Pine Forest leads the all-time series 12-11.
What to watch: Sustainability. Lumberton rarely put together a drive that lasted more than four plays in its loss to Douglas Byrd, struggling with the no-huddle after finding the end zone on the second play from scrimmage. Quarterback Will Everette was dropped to the turf several times and didn’t have much time to throw. Pine Forest poses an even bigger challenge up front with a front seven that could be Fayetteville’s best.
Keep an eye on: Lumberton running back Josh Sheridan, the Pirates’ leading rusher in last week’s opener with 30 yards on six carries. He’ll need to see more touches against Pine Forest to be effective in Lumberton’s pass-heavy offense. If a sophomore-laden offensive line can open a few holes for Sheridan, the Pirates have a shot at their first win.
South Brunswick (0-1) at St. Pauls (0-1)
Coaches: South Brunswick — John Rusk; St. Pauls — Trey Sasser
Recent history: St. Pauls is 8-0 against South Brunswick but hasn’t played the Cougars since the start of the Trey Sasser era in 2008.
What to watch: How long will it take for St. Pauls’ vaunted uptempo offense to get on track with a new quarterback, running back and weapons at wide receiver? Gray’s Creek isn’t the greatest litmus test considering the Bears have now won sevens straight over the Bulldogs. This week’s matchup with South Brunswick will give us a better indication of St. Pauls’ offense taking a step back or perhaps being better than last season’s yard-eating, point-producing unit.
Keep an eye on: Malik Livingston, St. Pauls’ starting quarterback who injured his shoulder in the opener at Gray’s Creek. Livingston kept it seven times on the zone read and picked up 79 yards rushing but it wasn’t enough against the Bears’ physical front seven. Damien McMillan will need to run hard and run fast to alleviate some of the pressure off Livingston.
Trinity Christian (1-0) at South Robeson (0-1)
Coaches: Trinity Christian — Chuck Webster; South Robeson — Stephen Roberson
Recent history: The Mustangs are 1-1 all-time against the Crusaders including a 20-0 win last season.
What to watch: With the help of two returning all-state running backs Dominique McCallister and Dorrian Allen, senior quarterback Jeffrey Ross and the Trinity Christian offense put up 58 points last week in a win over Fayetteville Christian. The Crusaders are run-heavy and the Mustangs have struggled in the past against the run under Roberson. South Robeson’s cupcake non-conference slate isn’t as bad as it looked before the season began. Should the Mustangs have been considered one of those easy wins on the opposition’s schedule?
Keep an eye on: South Robeson senior playmaker Andrew Hill was sidelined for Monday’s opener after missing a couple days of practice last week. The Mustangs were noticeably a step slower without No. 1 and need his speed against a Trinity Christian defense that likes putting eight players in the box before the snap.