Lumberton coach Joe Salas is just as fiery on game nights as he is on the practice field.
His strong personality dominates daily at every two-hour after school session as the Pirates work on what it takes to win. Having been through both at South Johnston and West Bladen, Salas says there’s no difference in getting after it at 0-4 versus 4-0 at this point in the season.
The proof’s in the details.
“It’s a loaded question for coaches because we all love practice,” Salas said. “All your improvement comes from practice. If you’re average at practice, you’re slow and average on Friday nights. Coaches love to get out there and practice because we control what’s going on. On Friday nights, it’s up to the players.”
Salas’ players nearly captured an improbable win last week after reversing a two-touchdown deficit in the second half to take a lead in overtime at Seventy-First. Most expected the Falcons to win by a couple of touchdowns, but the Pirates made a game of it with tenacity and fight in crunch time.
Lumberton (0-4) tackles Hoggard this week before traveling to New Hanover in the non-conference finale. Five of the Pirates’ next six games are against ranked teams sporting one-loss or better records.
“For us, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing, it matters how we’re playing,” Salas said. “It’s how we prepare and how we come out and play. These next two weeks are just two more chances to get this thing turned around.”
Week 4 Record 4-1; Overall 16-6
I never envisioned Red Springs starting the season with four consecutive losses, an epic gaffe on my part. The Red Devils are in major need of this week’s bye to figure out what’s gone wrong before the Three Rivers Conference slate begins Sept. 27 in Rowland.
Anson (2-2) at Purnell Swett (1-3)
If Swett has visions of getting back to the state playoffs, this one’s a must-win on homecoming for the Rams. After a solid week of practice, Mark Heil’s group finds a way to get it done against 3A competition following last week’s momentum-building loss to New Hanover. Swett’s defense has been rocked on the ground consecutive games and needs to get back to what it does best against Anson’s three-player attack.
Swett 21, Anson 20
Hoggard (3-1) at Lumberton (0-4)
Purnell Swett and Lumberton are on the same page athletically and after seeing what Hoggard did to the Rams a few weeks ago, it’s difficult to pick a Lumberton upset. Don’t expect a 45-14 beatdown, however. The Pirates are well-prepared and confident heading into their last home contest before Southeastern Conference play kicks off Oct. 11.
Hoggard 31, Lumberton 27
South Robeson (2-1) at Harrells Christian (3-1)
Trap game perhaps for the Mustangs looking ahead to Red Springs? I hate using the phrase, especially in high school sports when the opposing team, in most instances, is just as talented and capable of winning as the perceived favorite. Harrells Christian is still licking its wounds from last week’s 50-point loss and with an extra week to nurse injuries and prepare, South Robeson should be that much stronger.
South Robeson 36, Harrells Christian 28
Reach staff writer Brad Crawford at 910-272-6119 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MrPalmettoSDS.