Friday’s Forecast: Red Springs embraces underdog role
By Brad Crawford
Last week’s surprising loss to White Oak may have been a blessing in disguise for Red Springs this season.
At least that’s how George Coltharp puts it in preparation for Friday’s game against Purnell Swett.
Preseason hype coming off the school’s first conference championship in seven years may have gotten to his team’s head the third-year coach said and maybe the Red Devils weren’t as good as advertised heading into their 2013 opener.
Red Springs cleared the cobwebs quickly after the setback and got back to what it does best this week in practice — executing the short game with rhythm and precision. The Rams come into the Inferno as the 4A favorite, Goliath making his way into David’s den.
Will Swett’s size and strength be too much for the Red Devils to handle up front or can the 2A program’s offense slingshot enough passes down field to prove equal?
Get there early, it’ll be packed.
Week 1 Record 3-3; Overall 3-3
Opening week is always the toughest Friday night to pick of the season. Robeson County’s disappointing 1-5 finish left me at .500, three wins and three losses. This week’s games should be a little easier to predict having watched film and studying the strengths and weaknesses of each team in a game situation.
Swett (0-1) at Red Springs (0-1)
This matchup lost some of its preseason luster when both programs lost last week, but it still should be one of the area’s most competitive games this fall. Among several intriguing storylines, this is the Red Devils’ last opportunity — under the direction of Greene — to show what they’ve got against 4A competition despite the jury still being out on whether or not Red Springs can protect its franchise player in the pocket. Swett has more depth and veterans on defense. With a late stop, the edge goes to the Rams.
Swett 28, Red Springs 20
Lumberton (0-1) at Pine Forest (1-0)
Douglas Byrd’s sideline got real quiet — except for an irate defensive staff — last week when Lumberton scored a touchdown on its second play from scrimmage in Fayetteville. The Eagles’ defense tightened and the Pirates’ Air Raid never was the same in coach Joe Salas’ debut. This week’s road trip presents a different challenge for Lumberton, a matchup against a dominant front seven that held Swett to six first downs in an opening win. Establishing a rhythm early, something the Pirates couldn’t do last week, will be important in the first half.
Pine Forest 21, Lumberton 7
Fairmont (1-0) at Fayetteville Christian (0-1)
Robeson County’s only Week 1 winner shifted its focus to defense the last several days, hoping to figure out what went wrong on that side of the football against East Bladen. It’s early in the season, so the Golden Tornadoes still have a few weeks to get it straightened out before challenging for a Three Rivers Conference title. What does quarterback Jarrod Neal and the Fairmont passing game have for an encore following last week’s 58-point outburst? The short trek up Interstate 95 will be worth the trip for Golden Tornado fans. Expect another gaudy outing.
Fairmont 48, Fay. Christian 28
Trinity Christian (1-0) at South Robeson (0-1)
The Mustangs may have suffered the area’s biggest letdown in Week 1 with a loss to West Bladen and now make a quick three-day turnaround to host Trinity Christian. The good news is Andrew Hill is back and is scheduled to make his debut on a South Robeson offense that backtracked more often than not in the opener. The Mustangs’ defense held the Knights to 287 total yards Monday night, but Stephen Roberson’s offense didn’t hold up its end of the bargain. This one’s as close to a must-win as it gets for South Robeson.
South Robeson 20, Trinity Christian 14
South Brunswick (0-1) at St. Pauls (0-1)
There’s no reason to panic for the Bulldogs, one of a handful of teams talented enough to contend for a league title this season. South Brunswick’s better than what it showed last week and could pose a few problems in St. Pauls’ home opener, but the Bulldogs’ convincing loss to Gray’s Creek may have been the wake-up call Trey Sasser’s program needed in preparation for this week’s game. St. Pauls has a great opportunity at evening its record prior to battling Southern Lee and gets additional reps for a backfield still trying to figure it out behind a veteran-led offensive line.
St. Pauls 36, South Brunswick 12
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