Week 4 prep football previews, rankings
by By Brad Crawford
Here’s a look from staff writer Brad Crawford at Friday’s Week 4 high school football games involving teams from Robeson County:
Fairmont (3-0) at Lake View, S.C. (0-2)
Coaches: Fairmont — Randy Ragland; Lake View, S.C. — Daryl King
Recent history: Lake View has won two of the last three meetings including last season’s matchup, 28-20.
What to watch: These two teams don’t get along very well and the Gators would love for their first victory to be the one that disrupts Fairmont’s winning streak to start the season. Lake View reached the lower state finals last season before falling to Cross, 41-40. The Gators replaced tailback Darius Leonard and quarterback Chris Ford this season with first-year starters in the backfield and the results have shown early. Leonard and Ford accounted for 75 percent of Lake View’s offense during 2012’s 9-4 campaign.
Keep an eye on: Lake View’s offensive line, a veteran-laden unit that returns four starters. With so many newcomers for the Gators on that side of the football, coach Daryl King says it’s vital for his blockers to open holes, and at times, create something out of nothing.
Lumberton (0-3) at Seventy-First (3-0)
Coaches: Lumberton — Joe Salas; Seventy-First — Duran McLaurin
Recent history: Lumberton’s won back-to-back games against the Falcons including a 9-8 decision the last time these two met in Fayetteville during the 2011 season.
What to watch: One team’s winless and hungry while the other is looking to avoid the upset before a showdown with Douglas Byrd. Lumberton had its chances after forcing seven turnovers in last week’s home opener against South View, but a disappointing effort in the fourth quarter led to the Pirates’ third straight loss. The Falcons, after going 0-10 in 2012, have three convincing wins under new coach Duran McLaurin and are averaging a Cumberland County-leading 44 points per game.
Keep an eye on: Seventy-First quarterback Jamel Joliffe, a first-year starter who facilitates McLaurin’s interpretation of the spread attack. The Falcons don’t throw it as often as the Pirates, but when they do, they’ve scored touchdowns this season. Joliffe’s thrown for 287 yards and four scores.
New Hanover (1-1) at Purnell Swett (1-2)
Coaches: New Hanover — Kevin Motsinger; Swett — Mark Heil
Recent history: The Wildcats have overpowered the Rams the last two seasons, winning by an average of 32.5 points per game.
What to watch: Will Swett be able to avoid early mistakes against one of the 4A ranks’ better teams? Turnovers have damaged the Rams’ chances against 4A competition over the last 11 games, a combination of fumbles and ill-advised interceptions in the passing game. Swett will try and establish a running game in the first half to keep New Hanover’s offense off the field, something the Rams couldn’t do in last week’s blowout loss at Hoggard. The Wildcats graduated 43 seniors from an 11-win program in 2012, but coach Kevin Motsinger’s group isn’t hurting for talent. New Hanover’s front seven on defense is likely the most athletic Swett will face this season. Against a similar talent pool in the opener, the Rams mustered just six first downs against Pine Forest.
Keep an eye on: Ward Coleman, New Hanover’s starting junior quarterback and successor to Davidson’s Bates Taylor. After Taylor gashed the Rams for more than 500 yards passing in the last two meetings, it’s Coleman’s turn in the Wildcats’ spread to try and do damage against an improved Swett secondary.
St. Pauls (2-1) at West Bladen (2-1)
Coaches: St. Pauls — Trey Sasser; West Bladen — Russell Dove
Recent history: The Bulldogs are 7-5 all-time against West Bladen with three of those wins coming since 2010.
What to watch: It took three games worth of reps against a live defense, but it appears St. Pauls quarterback Malik Livingston is getting the hang of Scott Barbour’s uptempo, constantly attacking zone-read spread. Livingston is coming off his best career game, a four-touchdown, 297-yard masterpiece against Southern Lee. He also got some help from Chuck Walters who caught five passes for 169 yards. West Bladen’s 2-1 after going winless in 2012, but the Knights haven’t faced an offense like the Bulldogs possess this season. In last year’s contest, St. Pauls erupted for 76 points and more than 700 yards.
Keep an eye on: West Bladen’s Daquon Lennon, a sophomore running back with good speed, is averaging 11.3 yards per carry this season and has scored four touchdowns. Malique McDowell and Malcolm Vaught are two other ballcarriers who share the rock in West Bladen’s Wing-T approach.
South Johnston (0-3) at Red Springs (0-3)
Coaches: South Johnston — Shane Dular; Red Springs — George Coltharp
Recent history: Friday’s the first meeting between the two schools.
What to watch: When will the Trojans score? It has been nine quarters since South Johnston has crossed the goal line, something that plays into the hands of a Red Springs defense decimated by injuries and inexperience. Red Springs, a program that’s won 20 games over the last two seasons, gets a final crack Friday at putting a mark in the win column before a bye week and the Three Rivers Conference opener at South Robeson on Sept. 27.
Keep an eye on: Red Springs quarterback Blake Greene, Robeson County’s all-everything passer who has been quiet this season — by his standards — with eight touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He’s coming off an emotional outing in last week’s loss at Eastern Wayne and should be one of the leading reasons the Red Devils shouldn’t be counted out just yet.
Power rankings at a glance
6. Lumberton (0-3) — Don’t let Lumberton’s record fool you — the Pirates knew this season’s schedule was brutal and the opposition’s combined record thus far is 7-2. Lumberton’s made plays each game, but hasn’t found a rhythm with the football and struggles keeping teams out of the end zone. Quarterback Will Everette, one of the area’s most accurate passers through three weeks with 50 completions in 86 attempts, isn’t expected to start against the Falcons after exiting last week’s loss to South View following a sack.
5. Red Springs (0-3) — The county’s preseason No. 1 is still winless, plagued by a challenging schedule and a rash of injuries at key positions. Last year’s leading rusher Jedarian Lesane was forced to sit out last week’s loss after a violation of team rules. He has two carries in three games, resulting in the Red Devils having almost no balance on offense. The Air Raid works when Red Springs has threats on the ground and coach George Coltharp hopes his team can get back to that at home Friday against winless South Johnston.
4. Purnell Swett (1-2) — Swett’s rushing attack appeared to have turned the corner against Red Springs with more than 200 yards rushing and three touchdowns but struggled moving the chains Week 3 at Hoggard. In his first start, Swett quarterback Thristian Lowry threw three interceptions against the Vikings and a couple special teams mistakes put the Rams’ defense in difficult situations. Along with the help of leading rusher Braylon Locklear, Lowry will have to be more precise with the football for the Rams to be competitive Friday against New Hanover.
3. South Robeson (2-1) — The Mustangs won’t get any style points for last week’s shutout win over North Moore, but it provided a program that’s familiar with getting trampled by the competition in recent years a sense of pride moving forward. Since his defense was fooled on a couple long gains in a season-opening loss at West Bladen, coach Stephen Roberson says he’s happy with the way the unit’s bounced back over the last two weeks. “Maybe it was just a bad game for us,” Roberson said. “That’s in the past now and we’re focused on doing everything we can to get better.”
2. St. Pauls (2-1) — St. Pauls 36-31 win over Southern Lee last week will go a long way in establishing confidence in a team that was still searching for its identity prior to kickoff. The Bulldogs know they can win a game in the fourth quarter, are beginning the grasp the intricacies of an offensive scheme executed by a handful of new skill players and appear improved on defense. St. Pauls will look to avoid a road hiccup Friday in Dublin before next week’s bye.
1. Fairmont (3-0) — Coach Randy Ragland liked what he saw from his defense during last week’s 42-40 overtime victory despite the Golden Tornadoes being undermanned without starting safety Zach Caudle who was serving a one-game suspension after an ejection vs. Fayetteville Christian. “When we played our assignments against (their option), we made stops,” Ragland said. “And when we didn’t, Ashley made us pay. I appreciated the effort our guys gave on that side and I thought Matt Hunt (defensive coordinator) did a great job.” Unbeaten Fairmont travels to nearby rival Lake View, S.C. on Friday.
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