Here’s a look from staff writer Brad Crawford at Friday’s Week 5 high school football games involving teams from Robeson County:
Hoggard (3-1) at Lumberton (0-4)
Coaches: WH — Scott Braswell; LHS — Joe Salas
Recent history: Lumberton’s 2-4 all-time against the Vikings, but won the last meeting, 31-10, during the second round of the state playoffs in 2009.
What to watch: The Pirates might be on to something with junior ballcarrier Josh Sheridan under center, a last-minute replacement for Will Everette last week after Lumberton’s starting quarterback missed a game with concussion-like symptoms. Sheridan had his second straight 100-yard, multi-touchdown contest and helped Lumberton move the sticks on third down. Hoggard has two passers capable of tossing touchdowns, sophomore Xavier Johnson and junior Austin Schoenleber.
Keep an eye on: Hoggard wide receiver Randall Emerson is the team’s top target with 16 catches for 245 yards this season. Opposite of Emerson is Harrison Smith, who’s not far behind with 15 grabs. Lumberton receiver Bryan Carpenter saw his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown reception end at three last week.
Anson (2-2) at Purnell Swett (1-3)
Coaches: AC — Luke Hyatt; PS — Mark Heil
Recent history: Anson owns a 10-6 lead in the all-time series between the former “old” Southeastern Conference rivals.
What to watch: Generating a running game remains top priority for Swett, something the Rams have not done in back-to-back weeks since handing Red Springs its second loss of the season on Aug. 30. Quarterback Thristian Lowry’s thrown five interceptions since earning the starting job and Swett wideouts aren’t helping his cause with a couple of drops. Anson comes in with a power ground attack similar to what New Hanover threw at the Rams defense last week. Wildcats tailback Ramone Simpson rushed for 251 yards and five touchdowns in that contest.
Keep an eye on: Jekev Robinson, Anson’s senior tailback who’s averaging 6.6 yards per carry this season and has seven touchdowns. He’s one of three rushers in the Bearcats’ backfield who shoulders the load along with Damountay Horne and J’Maine Harris.
South Robeson (2-1) at Harrells Christian (3-1)
Coaches: SR — Stephen Roberson; HC — Brian Aldridge
Recent history: First meeting between the schools
What to watch: Harrells Christian fell victim to Florida commit Will Grier and high-powered Davidson Day last week as the defending NCISAA state champions lit up the scoreboard for 63 points. The Crusaders won’t have to worry about a passing game this week as the Mustangs ranked last in Robeson County in total yards from scrimmage through the air. South Robeson’s money is made in the trenches and it’ll try to pound the football early against an undersized Harrells Christian front seven on defense.
Keep an eye on: The Crusaders utilize a three-headed ground game, fueled by senior Kelly Nelms. Nelms has carried the football 62 times for 383 yards this season with five touchdowns. By comparison, Harrells Christian’s other two starters — Zack Carlton and Marcus Scarborough — have combined for 459 yards and six scores.
Power rankings at a glance
6. Red Springs (0-4) — The Red Devils are in disarray defensively, sputtering to an 0-4 without many stops on that side of the football. Non-conference losses to higher classification programs may help down the stretch, but it’s still surprising at this junction that Red Springs hasn’t found a way to finish. The Red Devils’ breakout opportunity comes next week in Rowland, their first crack at retaining their Three Rivers crown. If the Mustangs win however, Red Springs’ tailspin could become much worse as we head into a brutal October.
5. Lumberton (0-4) — Lumberton played its best game of the season at Seventy-First, but similar to the season’s first three weeks, the contest ended in losing fashion. It’s obvious judging the recent tweets from veteran Pirates that Lumberton views a winless as unacceptable in Joe Salas’ first campaign. The schedule’s not letting up though with two games against Wilmington’s best before the Southeastern Conference gauntlet commences.
4. Purnell Swett (1-3) — It’s time for Swett to establish an identity on offense and for the Rams’ leaders to decide how this season will unfold. Friday’s game against Anson is huge in that regard, a home contest that teeters on Swett becoming a contender or falling back into irrelevancy. Four victories are needed for the postseason and considering three SEC programs are still undefeated at this point, those wins need to come sooner rather than later.
3. South Robeson (2-1) — We’ll know if the Mustangs are legit by the end of their home game against Red Springs in two weeks. The soft non-conference schedule is great for a confidence boost, but it does nothing in revealing whether or not South Robeson can compete with South Columbus, Fairmont and St. Pauls for a league championship. While the numbers are somewhat inflated at this point, South Robeson’s running game could be the area’s best at season’s end.
2. St. Pauls (3-1) — Play time’s over for the Bulldogs. Next week’s affair at Fairmont provides all others with an early glmipse at the front-runner in the Three Rivers Conference, a league St. Pauls is intent on winning. The offense is clicking with Malik Livingston under center and Javon Crawford leads a defense that’s proved opportunistic over the last two games. South Robeson’s home league opener against defending conference champ Red Springs is the Time Warner Cable Game of the Week, but it’s too bad producers didn’t look at another game in the area with more impressive teams.
1. Fairmont (4-0) — Doubt the Tornadoes and they’ll make you pay. Fairmont overcame four first-half turnovers last week to suffocate Lake View, S.C., downing the Gators, 40-8. Jarrod Neal’s 19 touchdown passes is tops in the 2A ranks as well as eight touchdown receptions by Shemar Barfield. And the Tornadoes aren’t one dimensional. The combination of Quenton Walker and Cedrique Baldwin has tallied five rushing touchdowns through the first four games. Oft-criticized early this season for being out of position, Fairmont’s defense appears to be figuring things out under Matt Hunt.
Reach staff writer Brad Crawford at 910-272-6119 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MrPalmettoSDS.