West Bladen (0-3) at St. Pauls (2-1)
Coaches: WB — Joe Salas; STP — Trey Sasser.
Recent history: St. Pauls has won its last two games against the Knights since losing three straight to West Bladen from 2007 to 2009.
What to watch: Kane Banner and the St. Pauls offense has been Robeson County’s most exciting to watch this season, averaging an area-high in points, yards and first downs per contest. The no-huddle spread has given opposing teams fits and there’s no plans of slowing it down Friday night against a West Bladen defense that’s been beaten up by three teams from Robeson County the first three weeks. The Bulldogs don’t want a repeat of 2007’s loss to West Bladen, a 52-51 shootout in Trey Sasser’s final year as an assistant. St. Pauls’ defense is what has kept this team from being unbeaten at this point.
Keep an eye on: Datorrius Robinson, a veteran tackle who is helping the Bulldogs recover defensively from a pair of disparaging early-season performances.
Seventy-First (0-3) at Lumberton (2-1)
Coaches: SF — Bob Paroli; LHS — Mike Brill.
Recent history: Connor Haskins helped the Pirates win last year’s game in Fayetteville with a late field goal that proved the final 9-8 score.
What to watch: If you’re a fan of the forward pass, turn away. In this matchup of Wing-T offenses, whoever keeps it off the turf and plays better defense should prevail. Lumberton is 2-1 against teams from Cumberland County this season and Friday’s game is the Pirates’ first at home. Lumberton took a step back defensively last week, but still managed a one-point win at South View. In Bob Paroli’s final season, the Falcons have lost three straight games to open the season without much success defensively. The record of Seventy-First’s first three opponents is 8-1.
Keep an eye on: Daniel Robinson, Lumberton’s overworked running back who has a knack for picking up yards after contact. He’s hit the 170-yard rushing mark twice in three games.
Swett (1-2) at New Hanover (3-0)
Coaches: PS — Mark Heil; NH — Kevin Motsinger.
Recent history: New Hanover’s aerial assault last season in Pembroke was too much for the Rams as the Wildcats captured a convincing 49-21 victory.
What to watch: Loaded with 44 seniors, the Wildcats improved to 3-0 last week after stuffing Wallace-Rose Hill, one of the state’s best ground teams. New Hanover held the Bulldogs to 84 yards rushing in the game and scored 21-straight points in the third quarter. In Week 2, New Hanover snapped Scotland County’s 16-game winning streak, 21-6. The Wildcats will be Swett’s toughest opponent thus far this season. The Rams turned it over seven times in a 43-point home loss to Hoggard last Friday, another unbeaten team from Wilmington.
Keep an eye on: New Hanover’s Jacen Murphy, an athlete who is a threat to score when he touches the football. Murphy rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown last week and also made a 76-yard reception.
Lake View S.C. (1-1) at Fairmont (2-1)
Coaches: LV — Daryl King; FMT — James Atkinson.
Recent history: The Golden Tornadoes and Gators have split their last two meetings, including Fairmont’s 34-19 win last season. The visiting team has prevailed in each game.
What to watch: Despite starting the 2011 campaign at 3-4, the Gators went on to appear in their second Class A Division II state championship game in the last five years. A win over Christ Church would’ve been Lake View’s 11th state title, fifth-most in South Carolina. After heavy graduation losses, the new-look Gators are 1-1 this season under Daryl King. Fairmont has won back-to-back games — in blowout fashion — since opening the season with a loss to Union. Plenty of athletes will be on the field for both teams Friday night.
Keep an eye on: Fairmont wideout Chaise Tolbert has owned the slot position for the Golden Tornadoes this season. He hauled in a season-high seven passes for 76 yards last week against West Bladen.
Southern Lee (0-3) at South Robeson (2-1)
Coaches: SL — Tom Paris; SR — Stephen Roberson.
Recent history: Southern Lee blanked the Mustangs last season, 45-0.
What to watch: The second-half of a mini two-game stretch before a bout with Purnell Swett, South Robeson hosts winless Southern Lee in an attempt to win its first home game — played on a Friday — in three years. At Stephen Roberson’s request, the Mustangs have “gotten after it” defensively as the season has progressed, shutting out Trinity Christian last week on the road. Southern Lee couldn’t stop St. Pauls’ offense and dropped to 0-3 at home last Friday. A win would give South Robeson its first three-game streak in nearly a decade.
Keep an eye on: Deshawn Hamilton, a freshman running back who leads the Mustangs in rushing yards and attempts this season.
North Moore (0-3) at Red Springs (2-1)
Coaches: NM — Greg Simmons; RS — George Coltharp.
Recent history: Red Springs scored early and often in last year’s 50-12 win.
What to watch: Red Springs has pinned North Moore as its homecoming opponent which means the Red Devils expect to please the home fans with a fireworks show on offense. The Red Devils bounced back from a disappointing, mistake-filled home opener last week with a blowout victory at Granville Central. Red Springs will try and start a new winning streak at “The Inferno” against a Mustangs squad that stumbles in at 0-3. In three games, North Moore has reached the end zone twice and given up an average of 40.6 points per outing.
Keep an eye on: JuJu Brown, a two-time all-county wide receiver who leads Red Springs with 17 receptions. Teams have kicked the ball away from the speedster this season on special teams, but Brown has made an impact with big plays in the passing game.