As kids on the home sideline at Cape Fear High, Mark Heil Jr. and I would toss the football around before and after games, some of those featuring Paroli’s Douglas Byrd Eagles. I remember then-Colts head coach Mark Heil Sr. telling us late one Friday night, “Boys, that’s a legend right there.”
Nearly a decade later as a college freshman, the roles were semi-switched and Paroli was one of my first interviews as a stringer. The same warm, inviting man who patted my head on a soggy field was still a football coach, this time at nearby Seventy-First.
“Good luck, son,” Paroli told me after a brief statement on the importance of taking the air out of the ball after a 27-0 win. Maybe I should have wished him luck I thought, after all, he was one of the state’s most successful coaches without a state championship.
That came a few seasons later with the Falcons — 2008 — and I smiled. For any coach deserving of a ring, it was classy Paroli who has always put his players first and winning second. Perhaps that’s the reason Paroli has recently announced his postseason plans.
In August, he submitted a letter of resignation to Seventy-First’s administrative staff, declaring this season would be his last. He has made no further comment on whether or not he’ll continue coaching.
The living legend could be making his final trip to Robeson County tonight when his Falcons take on Lumberton. Don’t miss out.
Week 3 record: 6-0; Overall: 14-4
I hope the athletic departments at Red Springs and St. Pauls have set aside a few extra bucks for the power bill this month because tonight’s flurry of touchdowns will surely keep the scoreboards glowing with electricity.
Two of the state’s highest scoring no-huddle offenses go up against winless teams at home in what is sure to be stat-driven games from quarterbacks Blake Greene and Kane Banner. For fans of the passing game, you won’t want to miss these two. The Red Devils and Bulldogs are shooting for win No. 3 this season, a number Fairmont, Lumberton and South Robeson will also try and reach at home.
Seventy-First (0-3) at Lumberton (2-1)
There’s not a game in the state this week that features a coaching matchup quite like Bob Paroli vs. Mike Brill. Paroli, now in his 55th season as a head coach, has 403 career wins and six state title game appearances. A member of several coaching hall of fames, Paroli was instrumental in the development stages of several local coaches’ careers, including Swett’s Mark Heil, Scotland’s Richard Bailey and Byrd’s Russell Stone, among several others. A fan of the Wing-T like Brill, tonight’s game should be a battle of wills and a hard-hitting affair. Lumberton’s strength on defense coupled with the Falcons’ inexperience across the board will provide the story.
Lumberton 27, Seventy-First 12
Swett (1-2) at New Hanover (3-0)
Things aren’t going well in Pembroke this season for one of the youngest teams Mark Heil has had at Swett. Some bad breaks, mistakes on defense and offensive follies led to last week’s 53-10 setback to Hoggard and the bad taste lingers. It won’t be any easier tonight against a club that has already taken down reigning 4A state champ Scotland. This one could get ugly if the Wildcats step on the gas after halftime.
New Hanover 48, Swett 14
North Moore (0-3) at Red Springs (2-1)
Had it not been for a plethora of mistakes in the first home game of the season, fifth-ranked Red Springs would be unbeaten at this moment, thrashing the opposition with a high-scoring offense and a well-arranged defense. Jadarian Lesane is a hidden gem in the backfield who has a pair of 100-yard games to his credit. Markeiss Blue and the rest of Red Springs’ front seven has been solid all season long and that will be the squad’s calling card against North Moore on homecoming. Get there early if you want to see first-half fireworks from Zach Leach and the rest of the team’s speedy wide receivers.
Red Springs 56, North Moore 6
Lake View, S.C. (1-1) at Fairmont (2-1)
Separated by just 13 miles of country asphalt, most fans on both sides think the Gators and Golden Tornadoes should meet annually in a non-conference rivalry. Lake View has been a Palmetto State champion 10 times in its history and has players move on to the collegiate ranks every season. The Gators lost a load of seniors off last season’s squad, a team that lost to these same Golden Tornadoes. The talent discrepancy should now be in Fairmont’s favor, but this will be a tough one even at home.
Fairmont 22, Lake View, S.C. 20
West Bladen (0-3) at St. Pauls (2-1)
A couple of new coaches and some depth. It looks like the Bulldogs finally have the tools they need to make a run at a conference championship this season, touting a good decision-maker at quarterback and senior leadership on both sides of the ball. The key is St. Pauls’ positive mindset, a “get back to work and get the job done” motto the Bulldogs instituted after being smacked in the mouth by Gray’s Creek in August. The mood around the program is that it’s strictly business from here on out. At some point, West Bladen’s Air Raid offense under Joe Salas will move along with fluidity, but not this week.
St. Pauls 54, West Bladen 12
Southern Lee (0-3) at South Robeson (2-1)
The jury’s still out on just how successful the Mustangs can be considering both of their victories are against winless football teams this season. The defense has played much better since getting kicked around in the opener while the offense has made major strides in the running game despite a lack of experience up front. Head coach Stephen Roberson’s going to kick me for this one, but hopefully he’ll paste it on the board as motivation. I have a feeling the Mustangs may be a little too pumped up coming home to Rowland on a two-game winning streak.
Southern Lee 14, South Robeson 12