FAIRMONT — If this season’s middle school championship game is any indication, Robeson County prep football will be in good hands when its next crop of talent plays under the lights in a few years at St. Pauls and Fairmont High School.
Backed by a late two-point conversion stop, Orrum Middle tightened its grip on local gridiron supremacy in frigid temperatures, downing Parkton Middle, 14-12, to win an area title for a second consecutive season.
“You could tell by the way these kids practice, they wanted this,” Orrum coach Jerry Lawson said. “They’ve been willing to learn and listen to their coaches all season. I couldn’t be more proud of this group.”
After pushing its lead to 14-6 on Sidney McKeithan’s 36-yard interception return late in the third quarter, Orrum (8-0) stopped Parkton’s John Edge a yard shy of the goal line on a fullback dive with 3:49 left to play nursing a two-point lead.
The Bruins (7-2) got the ball back with 57 seconds to play on their own 27 yard line, but ran out of time in Raider territory.
“We’re always the county team that’s overlooked because we’re small,” Parkton coach Eric Murphy said. “I had some great kids this season. Kids that wanted to win and never stopped believing.”
The turning point came when Parkton quarterback Warren Bell, who came into the final with 31 touchdowns in eight games, ran out of room rolling to his right and lofted a pass too short for an intended receiver. In position to make a play, McKeithan dodged a couple of Bruins and raced to the end zone.
Two possessions later, Parkton pulled to within two points on Bell’s 71-yard strike to Antwain Hoskins who caught the ball at the 35 and went untouched down the sideline after a defensive back slipped on the play. Murphy called a timeout to think over the ensuing two-point conversion, but Orrum snuffed it out.
“We’d like to have the pick back and just have Warren run it there,” Murphy said. “Give Orrum credit. Their defense came up big and Lawson’s always been a great coach.”
Orrum’s second win of the season over Parkton appeared to be in the books early following Jordan Waters’ 76-yard touchdown run on a third-down option pitch in the second quarter. The Raiders had already stopped Parkton twice on offense before Waters got loose.
He finished with a game-high 104 yards rushing on nine carries.
“Jordan ran it hard like he always does,” Lawson said.
Bell, who starred during 1-on-1 drills with Joe Flacco this summer at Vonta Leach’s annual football camp, accounted for 242 total yards of offense, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
In pursuit of a degree, Murphy said he has coached his last game at the middle school level. The former St. Pauls all-county running back rushed for 1,500 yards as a senior in 2005 and hopes to move up as a football coach next season.
“It was a fun farewell, a good night for the Parkton community,” Murphy said. “I wish more people would’ve come out to see what we’ve been building here. We would’ve liked to win, but we had some mistakes and Orrum’s a great team.”
Reach staff writer Brad Crawford at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MrPalmettoSDS.
ROBCOFB Middle School Championship
Orrum 14, Parkton 12
Orrum 08 6 0 — 14
Parkton 0 6 0 6 — 12
ORRUM — Jordan Waters 76 run (Waters run)
PARKTON — Warren Bell 16 run (run failed)
ORRUM — Sidney McKeithan 36 interception return (run failed)
PARKTON — Antwain Hoskins 71 pass from Bell (run failed)
PASSING — Orrum: Thorndyke 0-1-0-0. Parkton: Bell 6-16-2-151.
RUSHING — Orrum: Waters 9-104, Adams 7-39. Parkton: Bell 17-91, Wheeler 7-7.
RECEIVING — Parkton: Shoulters 3-30, Hoskins 1-71, Wheeler 1-37, McDonald 1-13.
RECORDS — Orrum 8-0; Parkton 7-2.