Week 3 prep football previews, rankings
by By Brad Crawford
Here’s a look from staff writer Brad Crawford at Friday’s Week 3 high school football games involving teams from Robeson County:
Wilmington Ashley (1-1) at Fairmont (2-0)
Coaches: Ashley — Tom Eanes; Fairmont — Randy Ragland
Recent history: Fairmont’s 1-1 all-time against Ashley with both of those results coming since 2011. Last year, the Golden Tornadoes fell, 51-12.
What to watch: For the first time in 10 years, Ashley won its season opener two weeks ago against Hoke County after forcing five turnovers and hanging on late. Tailback Charles Dent scored both of his team’s touchdowns in that contest but left in the fourth quarter with a season-ending injury. The Eagles are taking the running back-by-committee approach this week against a Golden Tornadoes squad that struggled mightily against East Bladen’s similar run-based offense in their opener.
Keep an eye on: Fairmont’s front four, notably Naim Bellamy, must get off blocks and disrupt Ashley’s backfield when on defense. Ashley’s triple option is now in Year 3 under Eanes and the Eagles have mastered its intricacies. Assignment football is key for Fairmont should the Golden Tornadoes intend on moving to 3-0.
Swett (1-1) at Hoggard (2-0)
Coaches: Swett — Mark Heil; Hoggard — Scott Braswell
Recent history: Swett has never beaten Hoggard, losing its second head-to-head meeting with the Vikings last season, 53-10.
What to watch: Can the Rams get past the 4A hump? Swett has lost 10 straight games against 4A competition, but did manage to snap another streak — 11 straight road losses — last week at Red Springs. Swett moved the ball effectively on the ground with a three-headed attack and will try and do the same against the Vikings. Hoggard’s wins have come against South Columbus, a 2A contender, and Irmo, S.C.
Keep an eye on: Vikings junior tailback Keevin Thompson combines speed and power to attack opposing defense and already has four touchdowns this season. His backfield mate, Sonny Cooper, gives Hoggard a stellar 1-2 punch.
North Moore (0-2) at South Robeson (1-1)
Coaches: North Moore — Mike Vogt; South Robeson — Stephen Roberson
Recent history: South Robeson is 4-1 all-time against North Moore.
What to watch: If you don’t include a forfeit win in 2010, North Moore has lost 34 straight games over the last four seasons. This is a good time for South Robeson’s passing game to find some stability. Quarterback Kalvis Chavis has had very little time in the pocket in the year’s early going and Mustang wide receivers can run better routes. If South Robeson considers itself a Three Rivers Conference contender, it will have to be balanced on offense against the likes of South Columbus, Red Springs and Fairmont.
Keep an eye on: Lee McCallum, a South Robeson running back who is expected to see the bulk of the rushing load after an injury to Trevor Bethea. McCallum scored two touchdowns in Friday’s win over Trinity Christian and is the much-needed short yardage back that’s been missing in the Mustangs’ offense under Roberson.
South View (1-1) at Lumberton (0-2)
Coaches: South View — Randy Ledford; Lumberton — Joe Salas
Recent history: Lumberton has won three straight over the Tigers including last season’s mistake-filled 27-26 win in Hope Mills.
What to watch: Will Everette seemed to have a better grasp of Lumberton’s Air Raid offense in his second career outing following a 21-of-33 performance last week against Pine Forest. Bryan Carpenter’s the team’s best receiver and could have a big hand in determining whether or not the Pirates take care of business Friday at home. South View’s defense is one of Cumberland County’s most underrated despite giving up a 41-point outburst at Scotland in the opener. Linebacker Cody Hatley leads the Tigers with 26 tackles.
Keep an eye on: South View’s Jeremy Cox has is averaging 6.7 yards per carry this season for the Tigers who are coming off a rivalry battle victory over Gray’s Creek. It appears Xavier Robinson has replaced two-year starter Troy Cain at quarterback who has been moved to tight end.
Southern Lee (1-1) at St. Pauls (1-1)
Coaches: Southern Lee — Don Simon; St. Pauls — Trey Sasser
Recent history: St. Pauls beat Southern Lee in Sanford last season, 42-14.
What to watch: Southern Lee’s last winning season came in 2007, but it appears this season’s Cavaliers have the athletes to compete at a high level under coach Don Simon. The points and yards haven’t come in bunches for the Bulldogs, but they’ve showed enough on both sides of the ball last week to prove they belong on the potential Three Rivers Conference champion short list.
Keep an eye on: Southern Lee senior wideout Aaron Blockmon has 19 catches for 326 yards thus far, on pace to challenge school records in both categories. He’ll be going up against a defense that posted its first shutout in six years last week against South Brunswick.
Red Springs (0-2) at Eastern Wayne (2-0)
Coaches: Red Springs — George Coltharp; Eastern Wayne — Guy Williams
Recent history: These two programs have never met on the gridiron.
What to watch: Coming off a 35-14 win over Goldsboro, the Warriors are 2-0 this season backed by a defense that has already become the program’s calling card. Red Springs is hoping to snap its unexpected rough start with an offense still trying to gel in the passing game with several new targets. CJ McGeachy’s caught 18 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns in two games while a host of other pass-catchers have been much less reliable.
Keep an eye on: Doody Lesane, Red Springs’ senior tailback who’s had two carries the first two weeks. He was forced to sit out last week’s loss to Swett and is a much-needed addition — on both sides of the football — to a program fighting through inexperience. Lesane is the top returning rusher in Robeson County.
Power rankings at a glance
6. Lumberton (0-2): Lumberton showed some resiliency in Friday’s loss at Pine Forest, falling behind by three touchdowns early before pulling to within a score in the third quarter. Josh Sheridan was the key piece in a Pirates offense that picked up more than 300 yards. Lumberton has give up 44 points back-to-back weeks and that will have to change to turn the tides on the season.
5. South Robeson (1-1): The Mustangs got on the right track last week, but still have a ton of work to do to be considered a challenger in the top-heavy Three Rivers. It starts with being more consistent on offense, with less turnovers. South Robeson’s front seven on defense is talented enough to keep the Mustangs within striking distance each week.
4. Red Springs (0-2): Coach George Coltharp said he expected some growing pains early this season for his crop of newcomers against a non-conference schedule not as favorable as last. But two losses in two games is still difficult to stomach for a team used to winning. The Red Devils travel to Eastern Wayne this week.
3. St. Pauls (1-1): St. Pauls captured its first win with a shutout of South Brunswick. The Bulldogs are still working on becoming in-sync on offense and aren’t anywhere near last year’s record pace — at least not yet. Southern Lee (1-1) comes to the area this week.
2. Swett (1-1): The Rams snapped an 11-game road losing streak with a win at Red Springs, a game that turned out to be Robeson County’s most exciting thus far this season. Quarterback Thristian Lowry’s expected to start Friday’s game at Hoggard for the Rams after leading his team on four touchdown drives in relief of Josh Brooks.
1. Fairmont (2-0): In six quarters, Fairmont’s offense has scored 104 points — that’s 17.3 points every 12 minutes. Last week’s opponent quit at halftime. That won’t be the case Friday against Ashley (1-1) and the Screaming Eagles’ ground game. It should be Fairmont’s toughest test to date.
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