Here’s a look from staff writer Brad Crawford at Friday’s Week 9 high school football games involving teams from Robeson County:
Red Springs (0-7, 0-3) at Fairmont (6-1, 2-1)
Coaches: RS — George Coltharp; FMT — Randy Ragland
Recent history: One Robeson County’s most competitive rivalries statistically, Red Springs snapped a three-game losing streak in last year’s meeting, 46-10. The last time these two squared off at Fairmont, the Red Devils squandered a 20-point halftime lead before falling, 40-34.
What to watch: The must-wins have begun for Red Springs, but playoff hopes are slim with two of the Red Devils’ next four games against teams that have combined for nine victories this season. This matchup features the county’s top-rated offense against a defense that has massively underachieved — yielding 45 points per game — despite a handful of new starters. Fairmont’s run game has picked up momentum the last two weeks, pushing more players in the box against Jarrod Neal’s rocket arm. Coming into this week’s game, Red Springs quarterback Blake Greene has 135 career touchdowns — the most ever in the area.
Keep an eye on: Shemar Barfield, Fairmont’s touchdown leader at wide receiver. Nearly half of Barfield’s catches this season have went for scores, a threat Red Springs must contain from the opening possession.
St. Pauls (5-2, 2-1) at South Robeson (5-2, 2-1)
Coaches: STP — Trey Sasser; SR — Stephen Roberson
Recent history: St. Pauls cruised last season, downing the Mustangs by four touchdowns.
What to watch: This week’s marquee matchup pits two programs focused on moving the football on the ground with the county’s top four leading rushers. It’s a big game for both with playoff seeding on the line. St. Pauls, along with Fairmont, still controls its own destiny as far as the Three Rivers title is concerned as long as South Columbus tops Whiteville in a couple weeks. The goal is to win out for both, but that’ll end for one of these two 5-2 squads on Friday evening.
Keep an eye on: South Robeson’s ability to bounce back from a convincing loss. St. Pauls has been the road underdog before and come through this season at Fairmont. A loss for the Mustangs all but eliminates Roberson’s team from conference championship contention.
Purnell Swett (2-5, 0-1) at Richmond (6-1, 1-0)
Coaches: PS — Mark Heil; RC — Paul Hoggard
Recent history: Purnell Swett was one of Richmond’s 11 wins last season, a 56-point shellacking.
What to watch: Everyone’s eyeing Richmond’s battle with Scotland as the SEC Championship Game this season, but first, each team has three games in the way over the next month. The Raiders have scored a ton of points this season, but also given up on average 30.3 points per game — the most in more than a decade. Swett fans will remember what happened during the Rams’ last trip to Rockingham, a 42-41 loss decided by Juan Jones’ failure to cross the goal line on a game-winning two-point conversion try. The talent discrepancy is a bit different this season as the Raiders are one of 4A’s state contenders.
Keep an eye on: Pick your poison between Richmond quarterback Brent Flowers and tailback Diquon Cox, two seniors who have combined for more than 1,300 yards and 21 touchdowns this season.
Lumberton (0-7, 0-1) at Hoke (1-6, 0-1)
Coaches: LHS — Joe Salas; HC — Milton Butts
Recent history: Lumberton mustered a single touchdown in last season’s matchup, falling to Hoke at home, 35-7.
What to watch: Despite being 1-6, the Bucks are one of the Southeastern Conference’s hottest teams coming, with a win over Westover in Week 6 followed by a near upset of Richmond last Friday. Hoke’s run-heavy offense is more straight ahead than what Lumberton faced last week in Pinecrest, but not as potent. Decimated by injuries, the Pirates are a shell of last season’s team and continue to struggle moving the football effectively along with keeping teams out of the end zone. Special teams has been a team strength.
Keep an eye on: Lumberton quarterback Austin Foley’s been efficient in two starts as the area’s most accurate quarterback, but has struggled finding the end zone. He’s the Pirates’ best shot at winning in Raeford.
Reach staff writer Brad Crawford at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MrPalmettoSDS.