That’s where we are right now in Robeson County with all six teams having split the first two games of the season. Friday presents the first opportunity for some to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Where will these .500 teams go from here? Will problems on defense be fixed or further exposed? Can struggling offenses bounce back and regain their composure?
One thing is for certain: The early-season non-conference schedule hasn’t been kind to the locals and there is no clear-cut favorite after two weeks. There’s a lot of work to be done if any of our six teams are to be considered serious threats in the state playoffs.
Rankings are based on strength of schedule, quality wins, talent on offense and defense and a personal eye test. Like all rankings not based on a computer-based mathematical formula, these are subjective. Previous rankings are indicated.
Comments are welcome.
4b. South Robeson (1-1, PR: 6): Losing and streak will no longer be uttered this season in Rowland after Saturday’s convincing win at West Bladen. Now that the proverbial gorilla is off the Mustangs’ back, South Robeson can set its sights on improving what they do best over the upcoming weeks. Watching this program perform over summer, it was easy to see how dangerous the Mustangs could become if first-year coach Stephen Roberson could make the necessary pieces fit together. Roberson reminds his team — and the media — that once win wasn’t the goal this season. There’s still work to be done and as long as the Mustangs continue to hang around in games then make the momentum-altering play, more victories will come.
4a. Purnell Swett (1-1, PR: 5): This is a team that has a chance to make serious noise in the Southeastern Conference if the offense continues to improve under Jeremiah Swett and Andrew Hill. The difference was night and day on offense during Friday’s game against Western Harnett from the two first-down, six-point effort in the opener. Let’s not forget too that Week 1’s loss to Pine Forest doesn’t look that disappointing since the Trojans recently upset Gray’s Creek. The Rams and Mustangs get a chance to move up from the fourth spot when both teams meet two weeks from Friday in Pembroke. Before that, though, Swett takes on Hoggard and New Hanover hoping for a split.
3b. Fairmont (1-1, PR: 4): You win some and you lose some, but thankfully for head coach James Atkinson and his new regime at Fairmont, the Golden Tornadoes took care of business in flying colors last week at Hobbton. Fairmont’s second shutout since 2009 offset a sour taste left after the team’s opening loss to Union. Fairmont fans should get a chance to see an offense, much-improved since that first game, score a lot of points this week against a defense giving up seven touchdowns every four quarters. The Golden Tornadoes’ ability to shake off remnants from the opener and bounce back on the road proves this team has spunk and deservedly so considering Fairmont has won three straight conference championships.
3a. St. Pauls (1-1, PR: 3): What we know through two games is that the Bulldogs’ offense is vastly improved under co-offensive coordinator Scott Barbour, leading the county at 53 points per game. What we don’t know is if St. Pauls’ defense can ever pick up the slack when the other side of the ball goes into a rut. There will come a point this season when the no-huddle offense struggles against a defense that can match its speed. When that happens, can St. Pauls stay in the game with a unit giving up more than 500 yards per contest? Good news for coach Trey Sasser and his staff: There’s plenty of time to fix the defense before Three Rivers play begins on Sept. 28 against Red Springs’ Air Raid and senior running back Shawn Williams is on pace to have his best scholastic season.
1b. Lumberton (1-1, PR: 2): No one associated with Lumberton’s football program was surprised at what happened at Jack Britt last week. Going into their second game of the season, the Pirates’ coaching staff knew that keeping the ball moving on the ground against a Division I-caliber front-seven would be difficult. Throw in injuries to several key starters against a top-5 team that’s nearly unbeatable at home, the outcome was well-foreseen. But what the Pirates did do well was contain Britt’s hurry-up offense, a defense that stood toe-to-toe with the Bucs for the better half of three quarters before wearing down in the final frame. Once Lumberton gets back to full strength, the Pirates will be able to play with anyone based on their defense. If Jez Dees comes around under center and Daniel Robinson has help in the backfield, Lumberton should be fine since defense has always been Mike Brill’s calling card.
1a. Red Springs (1-1, PR: 1): It’s tough to drop Red Springs from its No. 1 spot in this week’s rankings after a mistake-driven loss to one of the state’s best 2A teams. Looking at the film, Red Springs simply made too many mental errors to beat an opponent of equal or greater talent, something that comes with the territory after losing nine seniors off last season’s eye-opening 10-win squad. The Red Devils were within a single score late in the third despite seven turnovers, which is a testament to the program’s overall improvement since 2010. The offense under Blake Greene was beat at the line of scrimmage by a more physical defensive line and the Red Devils never established a running game due to the Stallions’ sheer size up front. There are positives to pull from a loss like this, something coach George Coltharp has stressed to his team all week. The Red Devils are no longer the hunters, rather the hunted, and will get the opposition’s best shot every Friday night.